Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dear Students, Thank you

While I was at NCTE last week, I left my students a writing assignment.  I asked them to write a thank you letter to any adult in our middle school. I told them it could be a teacher, principal, counselor, lunch lady, custodian, substitute, any adult.  My only requirement was that they choose someone who has helped them through middle school and that they make it meaningful.  I wanted them to share with that grown-up his or her true impact.  I knew that I was really needing a pick-me-up before our Thanksgiving break, and, judging by recent lunch conversations, my colleagues were really needing a pick-me-up, too. 

We have the whole week off for Thanksgiving this year, so yesterday I had the opportunity to spend a quiet, uninterrupted day in my classroom reading their letters.  I was amazed and pleased to find that, without receiving any direction from me to do so, my students managed to write at least one thank you letter to every seventh grade teacher, every counselor, every principal, the lunch ladies, the secretaries, the librarian, and the custodians. Reading their kind, thoughtful, honest letters inspired me to write my own thank you letter. I've found this year, that my students seem to really like it when I have to do the homework assignment, too.

Dear Students, 

My name is Ms. Herring, and I am thankful for you. I'm thankful for your smiles and greetings on mornings when I'm sleepy or sad or frustrated. I'm thankful for your encouragement and patience when a lesson doesn't go as I planned, or when our wireless internet quits working, or when the network fails to save your paper that you spent two days typing. I'm thankful for the mutual respect we've developed as our year has progressed, and I'm thankful for the trust you've put in me to be your teacher and to, in some small way, prepare you for your future.

I'm thankful for the times when you laugh at my nerdy teacher jokes, and I'm thankful for the times you say thank you after a lesson, either with your words or with the "light bulb moment" I can see on your face.  I'm thankful for the times I have to ask you to be quiet and get focused because it means you're excited to be at school (whether you'll admit it or not), and I'm thankful for the opportunity to channel that energy and excitement into your learning. 

Most of all, I'm thankful for the opportunity to get to know you.  I'm thankful that I get to be surrounded by interesting, funny, smart kids all day.  I'm thankful that I get to read your writing and hear your thinking in class.  I'm thankful that you come into my classroom everyday prepared to let me stretch your mind in some way. On this particular Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for a job that I love and for students that make it an easy job to adore. 

Ms. Herring