To my intelligent, creative, messy, beautiful students,
At one point last week, I wanted to write you all a group letter before you went on break, but, in the end, I decided against it, and wrote you all individual cards with personal pictures. I think some of you enjoyed the letters, others of you enjoyed the cookies you were eating at the time more. So it goes when you are six years old and sugar is allowed to take over the taste buds in your mouth.
Words cannot express how much room you all take up in my heart. While I am not the kind of let-me-give-you-hugs-all-the-time and sing-you-praises person that perhaps is the stereotype for a young teacher, I truly do love you all so, so much. To see you all learning how to read, to speak a language that is not your own (whether it be English or Spanish), to do challenging math, to adapt to a new learning environment that is different from 95% of your old ones, to making friends in a classroom that is more diverse than the neighborhoods you individually live in, it makes my heart swell with pride.
You all make mistakes. Lots of them. And I make mistakes. Probably even more than you do. Sometimes we handle those mistakes well. We calmly pick up the dropped Stamp Game, with its hundreds of pieces all over the floor. We erase the pencil drawing from the table. We change the date on the board. We remind ourselves to listen to one another, and not make assumptions. We throw the broken glass away.
Sometimes we don’t handle mistakes so well. We place the blame on others. We forget to say sorry. We act out of anger, or we become too curt. We don’t handle our emotions the way we should in that little room of ours. And yet we still have love for one another and we treat each day like it’s new. Even if the words said the day before were not ideal. Sometimes we sing, in our school song, “I admit mistakes. I do what’s right. I make the world a better place.” Other times, we accidentally, but honestly, sing, “I make mistakes. I do what’s right. I make the world a better place.”
You all have so much stinking potential, it’s ridiculous. I wish everyone could see the works you create at six or nine years old. From really thoughtful letters to Obama about the prevalence of guns in the U.S. and the lack of recycling in some of your neighborhoods, to your desire to create your own multiplication work at six years old, to creating series of books, to inventing your own science experiments, you all are brimming with a creativity and intellectual energy that I hope never gets crushed. The way you all care about the smallest of insects to the biggest of dinosaurs makes me excited about the world again, too. You all have such unique, and original interests, from finding bugs in your Mary Janes, to writing a letter to a professor asking about DNA to designing catapults at home in your free time. Your minds are more than Disney Channel shows and iPad apps, and I love that. The way you all were so excited to hike through the woods on our first field trip almost made me tear up. You see the beauty beyond screens.
Speaking of tears, I know this may sound strange, but I love that we are a room where we have all seen each other cry. Some of us have cried over hurt feelings. Others of us cried when Hercules, our classroom guinea pig that we only had for three weeks cause we couldn’t handle him, died.
Some of us A LOT of us have cried out of frustration. The first year has been tough. For all of us. But I love that we are a room where no one feels ashamed to cry. Where no one feels ashamed to grapple with challenges and ask for help. Where we have each learned how to help each other and care. You all have seen me cry. About three times now. At the beginning of the year, I probably would have said I would never, ever cry in front of my students. But now that I have, I can honestly say I think it’s been good for you all to realize that I am human, that I struggle just the way you all struggle, and that who I am in front of each of you is not fake, but very, very real.
Thank you all so, so much for helping me through my first year teaching. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for being wise. Thank you for being flexible. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t love myself. I could not have asked for a better “first” class. I love you all to the moon and back.
I am so excited for the adventures to come.
P.S. To Mary Kate (or are you Ashley?), thank you for helping me through my first year, too :) You are the best.