Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Letter to My Students

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Dear Students,

If you haven't noticed from my whooping and hollering in the hall, the high fives with former students and the big smile on my face every day, I'm pretty excited about school starting.  I'm something of a school geek. I wake up in the morning thinking about what I'm going to do that day and fall asleep at night reflecting on the day.

And here's my little secret

I sometimes think I've failed you.


Sometimes I feel like a dog and pony show. I'm there for your entertainment, but am I really getting through to you?  I can make sure you pass the class. I can help you write wonderful speeches, create six-word memoirs, and understand theme in a story. By the time you leave my class you'll learn to deal with nerves, create a portfolio of your writing, and have your own idea of who was responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

What else is there you ask?

Passion. Curiosity. Imagination. Stamina.

I want you to have a burning desire to make your world a better place and a willingness to help those around you.

I want you to create works of wonder, even if no one sees it but you.

I want you to stand up and speak your mind when the bullies of the world try to quiet you.

I want you to know that anything worthwhile sometimes starts with failure and you have to try again and again to succeed. And sometimes, even when you think you know it all, you stop and start over again because something still isn't quite right.

I want you to know that learning doesn't end with a diploma.

I want you to leave my room with a passion for something that will carry you through the dark days and make the sunny ones shine a bit brighter. If this turns out to be your job in the future, even better.

In order to do this, I need your help.

I need you to say.  Mrs. Day, I don't understand. Can you show me one more time?

I need you to point things out.  That's just not right.  There's an easier way to do this.

I need to you to question me. Why are we doing this? When will I ever use this? What difference will this make in my world?

I need you to want to learn.

I need to know if something is stopping you from that learning.

And if we work together, we will work wonders.


  1. Deb, you are truly an amazing teacher and person! The letter to your students will hopefully make them "stop and think" and get excited about learning, reading, writing and speaking. We do each of those things every day of our lives. I'm sure not all of your students will "get this", but even if it's only one, you have made a difference. Thanks for sharing your letter.

  2. Oh boy, Deb...this is so awesome. You have it exactly right - it's a two way street, this teaching business, a contract for the learning year that will enrich teachers and students alike. Such a wise post...I'm printing this out and putting it in my plan book. Thanks, Deb! And good luck for the new year....I'm so excited that I don't think I can wait until next Wednesday!

  3. This surely will touch your students, Deb. It is so clear, heartfelt & evident of the passion you have for being their teacher. I love what you said that was more than learning about Romeo and Juliet. That is exactly it, learning goes beyond the diploma, and it starts-in your class & all their classes! Thanks for sharing.

  4. "I want you to leave my room with a passion for something that will carry you through the dark days and make the sunny ones shine a bit brighter."

    That's the line that finally pushed the tears out of my eyes. You have a wonder-full way of reaching your students because it all starts with this genuine desire to change their lives for the better.

    Your words help change my life for the better. Just knowing you are out there reminds me how good the world is.

  5. You touch the heart with your words. If kids read this they will look at you with different eyes. They will see a person who truly loves and cares for them here and now but also in their future. They are so fortunate to have you in their life. I am so fortunate you are a part of this community and I get to read your words.

  6. As always, you amaze me. I love it. I absolutely fricken love it. (Can I say that? Hehehe.) I do wonder if you will share it with your students. I hope you do. What an impact your words will have on them! They need to hear this. They already know you care, but your words, your writing, your open heart will dig that much deeper. This is one to be "pinned" and savored!

  7. Beautiful, touching, inspiring and motivating!

  8. Thank you all for your comments. This morning and tonight after school, I was feeling a little inadequate. And you all know how writing helps....I will share this eventually. I still feel like it needs a little work. Besides posting it on the class web sites, I'm going to hang it outside of my room. They seem to pay attention to the things I hang there!

  9. This is such an great idea! So honest and real and isn't that what we want from our teaching and our relationships with kids? Thanks for posting this.

  10. Your letter is so powerful. I love that you're a school geek. I think that being a school geek is what makes teachers great. Teachers are school geeks because they believe in the power of school to prepare children from the mental and social tasks the real world will throw at them.

    Great open letter, Deb! May you have a wonderful year with your students.

  11. Well you didn't fail me, that's for sure. You helped break me out of my shell through speech and was one of the first teachers to spark an interest in reading because you allowed choice. For that I will always be grateful! Love you.

    1. Who cares what the rest of us think . . . Christine's words mean the most! :)

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