Dear Next Year’s Teacher

Dear Next Year’s Teacher:

You are probably too tired to read this. I know I am too tired to write it. It has been mulling around in my brain for the last two weeks as I’ve tried to squeeze in every moment of learning between required assessments, data entry, evaluation reports, data analysis, meetings, and deadline after deadline. Well you know. But this is important and it worries me.

What will happen to my kids next year?

You see some of them they will soar. They will probably struggle with fractions, important American people in history and the explorers. But don’t hold that against them. We just ran out of time. There is so much to cover and though I could stand and present all the information there just isn’t enough time to actually learn and connect with all the required material. Like I said don’t hold that against them. They are ready to soar for you.

And then there are others who are not quite ready to soar but they are gaining momentum. They have worked hard and they are starting to believe in themselves and that belief is 95% of the way towards getting them ready to take off. Please hold that budding confidence gently and protect it. They are ready to take risks for you.

And there are those who are going to push every button you have. I know because they have pushed all of mine. I ask you to hold these the firmest and gentlest. These are the ones that have come the furthest but when they come to you in the fall they will be testing you. Can they trust you? Will you believe in them? Will you still care when they make bad choices? Do it. Do it all. They are ready for your guidance.

You see I worry because I love these children. I have poured my heart, soul and mind into them for the entire school year but that is not what is important or profound. They have made every moment of exhaustion, frustration, and yes even sometimes anger completely worth it because they have loved me right back. Together we have worked, grown, learned and made meaning in this world, a gift I am so grateful for.

This has been my best year as a teacher. And it started with changing me. So this is what I did each day. I showed up. I put the kids first. I did the next right thing. I went home and rested. And after doing this for a while I loved them. And that made it easier to show up and do the next right thing. And then a magical thing happened. At night when I laid my head on my pillow I was tired but not worried, because I knew that I had done everything I could do on that day as a teacher and a compassionate human being. And tomorrow I would have a chance to do it again. And if I had messed up some things I could go in the next day and do it differently. I could even ask for forgiveness because it would be OK. I loved them and they loved me. We were in it together. And we made it better together. Not perfect but better.

So you see it is so important that despite my exhaustion and yours that we know these things and that we remember these things because I only get to hold them in my hands for one year and then I have to pass on the torch. You will get to hold them next year and I need you to know how much they are going to give to you and how much you will learn from them. It won’t be be easy but it will be worth it.