Twenty:5- A Writer’s Gallery was last night— I will blog about it; have no fear. For now though, I’m still in processing and feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of what an event like that meant to my students & I. Thank you for supporting us!
Today I’ve decided to post the piece I wrote for the gallery last night, in hopes that you might catch a glimmer of the love that I feel for these kids. Enjoy!
An Open Letter to My Students:
As a child I loved nothing more than to sit quietly in the back of my mother’s middle school classroom, and watch her teach. It was there, as an observer that I first fell in love with the art of education. During summers and after school, I would stand in the front of the room and instruct my imaginary class. I don’t remember any of them ever forgetting to bring a pencil to class—then again, they were imaginary.
Then I went to college, eager to find out how to be a better teacher. Soon, I became obsessed with knowing the top research and using only the best methods. I subscribed to magazines for teachers and went to seminars and workshops, all in the name of being the best educator around. When I first got my own classroom, I was meticulous; I made sure I followed the rules, if something didn’t go as planned, I turned to the experts. It was a beautiful thing.
And then there was you.
You broke the rules; the books had no answers for your heart and tenacity. There were so many times this year that I was unsure. Unsure of where to go next, unsure if something I was teaching would stick. It was then that I fell back on the best lesson my mother ever taught me: build relationship.
And build it we did.
Twenty: 5 is a testament to that investment, on your part and mine. You pressed through and journaled everyday, playing with your sentence structure, genre, voice, and content. Sometimes in the stillness of morning I would sit with your words, and oh how you moved me. Your stories of growing up captured my heart; I would not have had it any other way.
In the classroom, I felt most like a family when we were on the floor, huddled around a piece of chart paper. It was there that we learned to let down our guards and accept feedback on a piece we had poured our hearts into. Our room became a safe place to take risks, for both you and me.
Now, in the first week of June, I’m sitting the back of our classroom, trying to wrap my head around exactly what to say to you tonight. Your gallery pieces are almost ready, but my heart is not. I certainly will not know what to do when I arrive at Starbucks next Saturday morning without a bag of your writing beside me.
And so, right now, in this moment, I need you to know, I believe in you. Your words, your passion, your compassionate, and laughter filled hearts—you will go far and do big things.
As you move onto your next phase in life, I hope you’ll remember the time you spent with your journal in this classroom. I hope you continue to capture small moments and ask yourself the three questions we’ve heard over and over this year.
Why is this important?
That matters because . . .
So, what I’m really trying to say is . . .
Because in the end, what I’m really trying to say is: Thanks for the adventure, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.