Last year I really started getting into writing more with my students. (This probably started because of my first year of blogging.) Specifically, I did Friday letters and notes that I wrote students while they took exams. I also had my students write themselves a letter mid-year that I held onto and gave back to them at the end of the school year.
To culminate all this writing, on the last day of school I had each student write me a letter that I didn’t open until the first day of classes this year. I asked them to give me some inspiration for the new school as well as simply capturing the moment at the end of a long, hard-fought school year. I locked the letters away for the summer.
When I opened my closet a few weeks ago upon my return to school, the letters were staring directly at me. I strategically placed them in front of all my crap so I wouldn’t forget.
What I read convinced me that I have to do this again in June. Some letters provided fresh perspective and advice of how to teach more effectively. There was some really good advice, like being tougher and expecting more. Others served as reminders as to exactly why I became a teacher. I was informed by one kid that I was head and shoulders their favorite teacher of all time. Others proved more serious, like the one that shared insight into the world of living with divorced parents.
They were heartfelt, real, and unadulterated. The letters allowed me to reconnect, at least in spirit, with those kids and all we experienced in room 516. I learned a lot too. They were exactly what I needed to start the year.