I’ve been teaching full time for six years; I love my job more now than I ever have. If you had told me that when I was twenty years old walking into my first class as Drew McCorkell’s support teacher, I would have laughed in your face. As things progress they tend to get mundane, or routine at the least. But at six years in, I don’t think I will ever use those words to describe my job or my heart for it.
This morning I finally sat down with the bags. I’d like to think all teachers have this day or this time where you sit down and unpack all that you deemed worthy of bringing home for the summer. For me, it usually takes a week or so to motivate myself to do it. Probably mostly because I have no idea where I’ll put all that stuff for the summer, but also in part because I know I’ll start seeing my kids in those bags and in the beginning I’m just not ready too sad for that.
And then I found the folders, labeled with their blocks, containing handwritten feedback happy kid notes from my students writers. Soon the floor was covered in their writing, and the tissue box was sitting next to me. Of all the assignments I give in a typical year, this one is the most selfish. I know that; I don’t care. I tell them to write me, what they loved and what they hated about the year so that I would know what to change and what to keep—then I throw onto the end, add in anything else you want to tell me, no rules at all.
This year’s end result were notesfromhappystudents, and of course since I am ahappyteacher I couldn’t have been more pleased or moved by the power of their words. If you’ve never had your students write you notes, if you’ve never written someone a note of encouragement, sit down—write—it breathes life into unspoken truths.
So I’m going to leave you today with a unique note written by one of my writers— she caught me off guard with this style—she had tears in my eyes before the first comma, because in the end, each year is like its own fairy tale, my childhood dreaming, my adult reality.
Dear Miss Smith,
Once upon a time, there was a teacher who cared about her class. She taught from her heart and her mind was so connected to them, it was so unreal. She made them feel so safe and secure, as if they could never get hurt. Her class was like a big sanctuary of secrets. Only her students knew what was up.
She showed them videos of what her neighbors had to say, and videos of poets who inspired their eyes word by word. Like someone who had them all brainwashed. Only for the good. Because truly they were the stars. The ones shining above the rest. Each and every day.
And they glistened in her eyes as she watched them grow and become writers instead of kids who scribbled their minds across a blank page. She crafted them. She molded her students into better people inside and out of the classroom. She told them continuously, over and over, like a broken record, that they were special. That they could easily make a difference in this world. They didn’t believe her at first. But now they do. And some of them believe in themselves. All because she dedicated her heart to them and continued to love them no matter what the circumstances were. Feeling like they were on top of the world, this class loved her back.
So once upon a time . . .
This unforgettable teacher was you. And those crazy students . . . well . . . they were us.
Yeah . . .
It was definitely a wild adventure . . . and honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way either.