With only two weeks left, one of which will consist of us playing outside during English class because I don't have to give a final, I gave my seventh grade students one final English assignment to complete for the year. It's a Letter to Self. Another teacher at my school does this assignment, and I think it's such a neat idea. The students will write a letter to themselves, turn it in, and I will return it to them at the end of their 9th grade year. Just think about how much growing happens in those two years. They may all be mad at me for giving them one last big assignment now, but they'll be glad they have it to look back on later. In a way, this blog is kind of my "letter to self." Sometimes I go back to look at posts from my student teaching. or the time before I found this job, or even earlier in this school year, and I'm amazed at the growth I've made as a teacher and as a person. The imperceptible baby steps we make each day seem so much more monumental when we look back on them from a distance.
In honor of my students' last assignment, I decided that I, too, would participate in the assignment and write a letter to myself.
Dear future Ms. Herring,
Here are just a few words of advice from the "new teacher" version of you, learning new things everyday:
- Go to bed early. You are not only nicer, but you are better at your job when you get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Smile always. A smile is the ultimate "fake it 'til you make it" cover up. You can have absolutely no clue what's happening or be heavily opposed to what's happening, and a smile can help you survive until you can fix it or change it later.
- Mistakes help you grow. It's great to be a perfectionist, but you found a lot of perfection within your mistakes and monitored adjustments this year. Bumps in the road keep things interesting.
- Be a leader, a mentor, and a friend. Above all, your job is not to teach infinitives and prepositional phrases. Your job is to be a positive role model, a confidante, a secret-keeper, an encourager, a cheerleader. During this year, the reality that teachers may be the only positive adult figures in a child's life has become terribly and sadly obvious. Be the person your students may lack and supplement the positive people that they do have.
- You get out what you put in. Enough said.