End of Year Letters (Part 2)

I wrote this whole post that is basically a transcription of student letters.  Once I got through the fifth kid I realized this sounds like a love letter to myself.  It’s not that.  It’s me feeling really good at end of my first year teaching.  It’s me feeling that maybe even if I wasn’t the best teacher of math in the world (or even at my school) that I made a difference.  That the students caught on to how much they mattered to me.  That I got to see them change and grow.  That I was a part of all that changing and growing.  Anyway, if you don’t feel like reading a lot of nice things my kids said about me I would stop now.

After reading my students the letter I wrote I asked them to write me back I gave them the following prompt

Please write me a letter.  You may write about whatever you’d like, tell about the best and worst parts of this year.  Tell me about your plans for high school and or afterwards.

Student 1: male, once told the principal he liked to make me mad to see me throw “tantrums”

me and you went from bad to good threw out this year. We became friends.  We got closer.  You teached me how it’s better to become friends than enemies, how it’s better to respect the teacher rather than be a jerk to the teacher.

he goes on to talk about his plans for high school and beyond. He tells me he won’t end up dealing on the streets. I have never been so proud.

Student 2: female, asked me if I was pregnant at the beginning of the year just to piss me off.

Thank you for spending your lunch time trying to help me in math. I’m glad I for to know you and talk to you this year.  I remember in the beginning of the year when I met you, I didn’t like you at all.  I thought you were just a mess, you didn’t know what you were doing and I could just walk out of class and do whatever I wanted.  But then I realized you were just trying to do you job.

she cried when we said goodbye at graduation.  I have high hopes. at the bottom of the note there is a little person saying “Ms. G is fuckin’ awesome.”

Student 3: female, wasn’t sure that I connected with I just like these sentences

I want you to be proud of me.  When I go to high school I want to start soccer and work my way up to be a professional soccer player and I will email you and tell you how it’s going.

Student 4: female, quiet but brilliant.

Ms. G,

To the teacher who believed and never gave up….

…Thank you for the way you taught, because without your strange methods I wouldn’t have loved it as much as I do now. I will miss you dearly and I never forget a teacher. Now I have something for you.

Then she wrote me a poem ending with “I will always smile about you, with your jokes on my mind.”

Student 5: male, student I gave the math award to.

You taught me how to do stuff I didn’t understand. You were one of the teachers that if you won’t let them fail. You always cared about us even if we were bad and misbehaving.  If we needed something you would always be there.

There are more but again feeling a little self conscious I’m going to stop now.

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10 thoughts on “End of Year Letters (Part 2)

  1. I had my students do something similar. I always wonder, though, how much they’re just saying what they think I want to hear and how much they actually realized or learned. Even when it’s not for a grade and I won’t read them until after their grades go in, I think a few of them are just “nice” enough to feel like they should say things they think I expect. You know?

    1. I totally get where you are coming from. I don’t believe that my students understand (culturally or maturity wise) how to say what they think I want to hear. I’ve been trying all year to train some of them on playing the school game and they still don’t. The few that do… I didn’t include.

  2. I understand the impulse to hold these up to the BS-meter, but I think you can trust the authenticity of these expressions. Most kids aren’t that skilled at pretending. These comments feel genuine and well-deserved. I hope you will bask in these warm reflections. You have earned them!

    – Elizabeth

    1. Yes! I didn’t mean to imply these weren’t genuine. I’m just thinking of my own seniors who say stuff like, “I shouldn’t have sat next to my friends and I would’ve done better” or “I should’ve done homework on my own when it was suggested even if it’s not graded.” I honestly hope they mean it and learn it as a life lesson, but my pessimistic side wonders.

      1. Sorry, CalcDave! I wasn’t suggesting that you questioned their authenticity, but rather that we all suffer from occasional attacks of ‘I must be an impostor syndrome’ that cause us to suddenly doubt the sincerity of positive feedback. I think it’s legitimate to just take these comments at face value.

  3. Holla! You are awesome! I think it’s important at times to pat yourself on the back, and reading these, you need to pat yourself on the back a lot. Like, dislodge some organs!

    1. Yup – keep these with some pictures and other notes, along with some sample responses to math prompts or tasks. You will love having a first-year scrapbook.
      P.S. Best ever complement received from an 8th grader goes to… Ms. G, who is most clearly fuckin’ awesome. (possibly having come from a lineage of fuckin’ awesomeness)

      1. Definitely from a lineage of fuckin’ awesome. But I think Ms. G. has set a new level of awesome.

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