The Letter Every Teacher Should Write in June
Five years ago at the end of each school-year in the busy month of June, I started the practice of writing a letter to myself. Like a ritual, I would seal the letter and place it in the left-hand drawer of my desk on the last day of school. At the end of September, during the beginning of the following school year, a time when the lighthearted novelty of freshly sharpened pencils, crisp and clean notebooks, and excitement to ignite passion in the hearts of our students seems to melt like a brightly-coloured rainbow popsicle on a hot sunny day into thick greyish soup of overwhelm, lack of sleep, and a thorough sense of imposter syndrome, I would allow myself to pry open the letter. I would read each word slowly, with intention, allowing the message to sink into my skeptical spirit… reminding it that, yes, these students would get to where they needed to go. I just had to meet them where they were.
Patience. Time. Faith.
That was all I needed to keep in my mind over the coming months in order to stay afloat.
Throughout most of my career, I have had the pleasure of teaching Grade One, one of the most incredibly rewarding age-groups to teach because of the nature of exponential, near-explosive growth and learning that occurs in such a short period of time.
Like little jumping jellybeans, pint-size bodies file into the classroom in September,
eyes and hearts wide-open to the possibility of learning,
passionate about their beliefs,
sure-footed about their perspectives of the world,
filled with a desire be their authentic selves,
some students filled with trepidation,
others eager to show off their strengths,
certain children combative and oppositional,
other kids quiet and observing,
most are not yet able to
or do math.
There’s truly nothing like it!
It’s also incredibly exhausting.
But most of all, teaching Grade One (or any grade) can seem insurmountable in September.
The magic of the learning and deep growth that occurs within the soul of each child seems impossible to the rational teacher’s mind at the beginning of the year.
And so, the letter served to remind my “September-Self” that according to my “June-Self”…it would all work out.
No matter how long you’ve been teaching, the beginning of the year can seem tough. Why not take a moment now, in June, to reflect on how far your students have come, you have come together on your journey?
I urge you to jot it down on paper, pop it into an envelope and open that gift of insight and wisdom in September. It’ll alleviate some stress and create a sense of certainty for the future.
I guarantee, it’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself.