Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dear Reader: A New Year

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my blog. I had previously written here and then took a break. Then I tried again and I stuck with it a bit longer before stopping again. I enjoy writing, but as I have grown older, I have realized that it takes a much greater effort to make the time and schedule it into my week. Additionally, I need it to be almost silent when I read or write. Tell that to me as a student and I wouldn't believe you, but now I have a different understanding.

One of my favorite things to write, and read, are letters. Not as daily emails, but actual letters. Multiple times throughout the year I ask my students to write me a letter, whether to introduce themselves at the beginning of the term, to check-in throughout the year, or to reflect on the year and give me suggestions so that I can improve my practice for future students. At back to school night, I ask parents to write me a letter, introducing their child and telling me about their family. Many students and parents also choose to write to me on their own. Reading their letters, I am frequently awed by what they have to share. Far beyond anything else, these letters are my favorite gift from my families. Sure, gift cards are nice and I'll never turn down chocolate or homemade cookies (chocolate chip are my favorite, if you feel like baking). But so few people take the time to sit down and write a heartfelt letter that when they do there is nothing like it.

Thinking about that made me realize that in the wonderful field of teaching, we interact with students and parents who may never really know our thoughts and intentions. We are perceived (and sometimes misperceived) by the public.

I decided that I wanted to try sharing through here again and do it in the form of letters - while breaking many formal writing rules. When I Googled the term "Dear Student", a title I was planning to utilize, I discovered quite a few letters already written. The majority of these letters were from higher education and were quite belittling of their students. The letters that I found were not representative of my experiences and perceptions of my students and their families. Although that initially discouraged me from using the same verbiage, I ultimately returned to it in the hopes that I can contribute something positive.

These letters are intended to convey the sentiment I believe many teachers and administrators have regarding their students. They address some of the many situations that we encounter on a daily basis. Some of the situations are from my own experiences as a teacher, or as a student, while others are not. While I am a bit hesitant, as writing like this can easily be misconstrued, my hope is to provide a glimpse into something that so many have experienced, but few outside see.

I'm looking forward to sharing. Thank you for coming along this journey.

The Teacher

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