Last week I received something that all teachers treasure–the written note from a student who has moved on in his education, but reaches back to say thanks. The note read:
Thank you, Ms. Sadler, for helping and inspiring me in writing and poetry. I may not be the next Stephen King, but you helped me become one step closer to something amazing related to writing.
It was signed by a student from my first period class last year. The reason this is so significant to me is because that was one of the toughest classes I ever taught. I had returned to middle school after six years in high school, and had taken on 8th graders, which I obviously was not ready for. I felt like the curriculum was disjointed because we were teaching from two sets of standards, and I never felt like I really did what I could with the students in regard to their writing.
There have been classes I have felt connection with, and the learning fun we had was obvious. The class this boy was in was not one of those. I sometimes want to forget last year ever happened; this note helped me see that we all were right where we needed to be. It was one of those creations being born through me without my immediate knowledge.
I will readily tell other educators they make a difference just by being there every day, giving their best energy to their students. I sometimes forget that it applies to me as well. I am proud to be an educator doing this important work. When it becomes visible that I am taking students “one step closer to something amazing”–that is worth whatever it takes.