A letter to my students. A letter to middle schoolers. A letter.
To my students,
You are the best part of my day. On days when I don’t want to get out of bed, when none of my clothes are clean, when I whine all morning to my colleagues seeing your faces changes my mind. I love the 6 hours a day I spend with you. I love the 10 of you that eat lunch with me and tell me about your lives. I like that you think it’s funny when at lunch I ignore you because I have “just 2” more things to do. I enjoy when I get to spend time with just one of you because you find what we are doing in class challenging and you have taken it upon yourself to come in and learn. You make my day but not only that you make this part of my life worthwhile.
But today I am sad. I am disappointed and sad. I may even include disheartened but very few of you know what that word means. Two of you got cease and desist letters from the police today for harresment. Many more of you are harassing people under the radar. You make fun of each other both in the hallways and at home. You threaten each other on the internet and over text messages. You make these already tough 3 years of your life harder by pushing at each other as opposed to bonding together.
I watch unable to change the way you treat each other outside of my walls. I want to scream at the administration, “I don’t get it! Don’t you see? They are good in my class. They come after school. I just called their parents to say what a good job your child is doing.” I want to stand up for you. I want to stand next to you. I want to hear you say, “I get it. I made a mistake but I will try, I promise, to do better.”
I believe in you. I am so mad at you and all I can think is I believe in your ability to improve and change. I can’t just stand with you though because the students you have been hurting; they are mine, too. They deserve to feel safe and welcome, too. I have to stand with them, too. I have to say, “Why aren’t we protecting these kids? How did we let this happen? How can we make them feel as though this is their place, too?”
So today I write you a letter, a letter to all middle school students and a letter to all middle school teachers. Take a little time each day and think about the way you treated people. Think about what you said to the kid that made you angry and how you could do better next time. Think about the way your friend acts in the hallway. Decide who you want to be friends with. Teachers think about the way that students talk to each other in your room. Think about talking to the kids about their lives. Try just a little bit harder.
I don’t expect you will change tomorrow. I have no thoughts that next week will be different. I just want you to know that I notice you, I see you and I want better from you and for you.
With Love and Hope,