An Open Letter to My Former Students
Dear (Former) Students,
As I am writing this, my new job looms on the horizon. I’ll be taking on a new role, at a new school, in a new state for crying out loud. Perhaps most jarring, though, will be the new students in my care—after nearly a decade of teaching teenagers, I’ll be working with elementary aged children.
I’m excited. I’m ready for the change. And I miss my former students tremendously. I couldn’t move forward until I wrote a little something for all of you.
People used to gape at me when I told them I taught at the high school level. And, really, can you blame them? The media paints you guys as selfie-obsessed, self-absorbed monsters.
I mean, to be fair, you do take a lot of selfies.
But I always saw something else, too. You were funny. You were energetic, inventive. You were just figuring out who you were going to be, and you had an optimism for the future I’d long since forgotten.
So here’s what I want to say. Whether you were in my homeroom for a single semester or had me for two (or more) years of English, whether you are still in high school or have long since graduated and have a career and/or a family of your own, whether I was your favorite teacher or we butted heads nearly every day, I am so very glad I got to know you.
My decade in the classroom wasn’t easy. There were days when my lessons fell flat, when I lost my temper, when I let you get away with more than I should have. There were times that my personal life was such a wreck that I wasn’t even sure that I deserved to be your teacher. But then I’d get your sweet notes on crumpled pieces of notebook paper. I’d see your scribbles on my desk calendar. I’d watch your eyes widen when we read a good book. I’d see your smile of satisfaction when you finally understood a new concept or aced a test. It made every trial, every early morning, and every frantic grading session worth it.
Before I moved to Arizona, I asked for updates on Facebook—where my former students were now, what they were doing career-wise, whether they had families or gotten married or traveled the world. I received over 80 responses. And I thought about how lucky I am to have played even a small role in your story.
So know that, even though I am another time zone away, I will always be rooting for you.
Thanks for the memories,