[another] open letter to my students

Ever since my first year of teaching [which feels like a lifetime ago], I have made it a tradition to write my students an end of the year letter. They receive this the last week of school and then also get to watch an embarrassing home video of me "teaching" when I was six. This letter usually has sounded something like this : CLICK HERE : and for my LA II students it still will. However, my LA III students have been with me two years now, and theirs ended up sounding a little different. Here is your sneak peek…they won't get this until next week.
Dear LA III students of 2011-2012 school year: 
I truly cannot believe that my time with your class is over. Two years ago when I first met you guys I had no idea what was in store. That first day of school we looked at each other, you wondered if my jokes could get any more lame [later realizing, of course, that they could], and I wondered what you all would be like. I had never had the experience of having a class for two years in a row, and to be honest I was a little concerned I wouldn’t like you and that it would be a long two years. Luckily for me, you guys proved to be completely wonderful, and I’m sad that year two with you is wrapping up. 
Your class has seen me through quite a bit: you saw me figure out how to be a high school teacher, since I had only ever taught middle school before; you saw me get to teach my favorite book for the first time ever, and I apologize for my crazy amount of enthusiasm about that; you saw me figure out how to teach AND balance a coaching schedule, and though I loved softball and basketball that was a crazy busy year; you also saw me grow very pregnant, and I never imagined you guys would be so excited for me. And obviously, since we’ve spent so many days and hours and weeks together, you’ve also seen my everyday things such as crabbiness, tiredness, and my i-need-some-coffee-ness. I apologize for the days I lacked patience, and I thank you for giving me grace in those moments I may have snapped at you. 
More than you getting to know me though, I have gotten to know you as well. I appreciated your honesty in your writing and projects, and for always trusting me with your stories. I appreciated your sense of humor, and for your ability to make me laugh even on bad days. I appreciated when you’d correct mistakes I made, because it helped keep me humble. I appreciated you always doing the work I asked you to do. I don’t think I ever once had to throw a temper tantrum to get someone to do their work, and that means a lot to a teacher [yes, I did have to wake a few of you up, but that’s to be expected every once in awhile, right? Am I right Mich, Trent, Ryan, Avery, Luke, Dakota, Julian, Zeph, Allie, Taylor...wow, this list could keep going ;)]. 
 Thank you for trusting me to be your teacher; for trusting that what I had to share and say mattered. Thank you for allowing me to respect you, and for respecting me in return. Even though I don’t think any of you ever learned where the rulers were [for crying out loud, they are in the door of the tan cart!!!], you all made my day, every day, for the past two years. 
I was thinking about my time with all of you one day when I was driving-- I know that sounds really weird, but it’s true-- and one of my favorite songs came on. I’m sure you guys have never heard it, as you have learned by the music I played for Writers Notebook we have very different tastes in music, but it put into words perfectly my thoughts about my time with you all. It’s by an artist called Sara Groves [who actually used to be an English teacher!], and it’s called “I Saw What I Saw.” I want to leave you with a few of the lyrics, as every time I hear them I will think of the past two years I spent with your class:
I saw what I saw and I can’t forget it
I heard what I heard and I can’t go back
I know what I know and I can’t deny it
We’ve done what we’ve done and we can’t erase it
We are what we are and it’s more than enough
I say what I say with no hesitation
I do what I do with deep conviction
Your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I am afraid of
and what I know of love
Please know that deciding to stay home to raise my daughter, Blythe, was a tough decision; it was a tough decision because every time I thought about it, I saw all your faces. However, I will still be around if you ever need me. And you better believe I’ll be at your graduation to see you ALL walk across that stage. And just like the song lyrics  say your dreams have inspired me, your hopes have ignited something in me, and you have shown me courage in how you have handled and dealt with so many things. You have truly taught me these past two years. And your faces will always be a memory of mine. Please don’t forget what it felt like to write and be heard. Please don’t be afraid of telling YOUR story.
THANK YOU for the past two years. As you finish high school and go out into this big world of ours, please show others the YOU that I got to see. I will always remember you. Stay in touch! 
Mrs. I

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