Monday, August 11, 2014

A Letter From Your Teacher

Every year teachers spend their summers lounging by the pool, reading a book (that isn't required by their school district) and researching (or should I say pinteresting) new and exciting ideas to begin a new year.  Let's be honest, even though we have the summers off, our brains are always searching for the cute bulletin board idea or developing new lesson ideas to start the next year off perfectly.

I must admit that once August 1st hits (sometimes even before) I am pulling long hours in my classroom crafting, organizing and preparing for a new school year.  I always get so excited to get a new group of third graders to spend nine months with.  Every year, typically right around this time I also like to send out a friendly letter to my students.  I send a post card welcoming them to third grade, telling them how much fun we are going to have, and expressing my excitement to meet them at Meet the Teacher night in a few days.   But this year, my letter was crafted a little differently.

This past July, I had the opportunity to attend Podstock (read more about that here) and was honored to listen to the keynote speaker (Todd Nesloney).  In his powerful and inspiring speech he talked specifically about his students and the letter that he sent out prior to meeting his class.  He, like many teachers, also sent out a letter to his students before Meet the Teacher, but his was different.  Instead of welcoming them to 5th grade, he wrote about what he knew they could do, dream, and accomplish that year together.   "I know I haven't met you yet, but I know you can accomplish anything."  Wow.  How powerful.  To think, some of those students probably have never heard that, had the encouragement to do anything they want to do, and this teacher, never to have met them, believed in them.  Todd continued on with his story, ending with one specific student coming back to him at the end of the year with this same note in his hand saying, Thank you.  He told Mr. Nesloney, you believed in me, and you didn't even know me.  That meant something to me.

As I sat there (of course bawling) I thought about the impact that short note had on that one student in Mr. Nesloney's class and knew immediately that I wanted to have that same impact on my students this coming year.  So three days ago, I wrote.  I wrote 23 notes that went something like this....

                               "I know I haven't met you yet, but I already know how amazing you are.  I know you can accomplish anything, learn anything and be anything.  I can't wait to help you on your educational journey.  You are awesome!   We are going to have a great year of learning and growing together!  See you soon. - Mrs. Pickett"

I hope that this note will help inspire that student who needs a little extra love and encourage my struggling students to keep going this year.  I hope to make the same impact that Todd made on that one student, that one year.

My challenge to you and other teachers is to do the same thing.  If every teacher across the country was able to write a letter like this.  Think about the impact we would have on kids.  The inspiration and culture that we could create allowing children to accomplish ANYTHING they want to... Amazing!

I know this time of year is hectic, stressful, and overwhelming, but instead of organizing that cabinet, or crafting that project, write a letter to your students.  Even if  you have already met them, it will still mean the world to them.

Thank you Todd Nesloney, for helping me inspire others.

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