After a week of not seeing kids (thanks, Octavia), I went to school for today’s optional teacher workday to get some organizing and other small tasks done that I wouldn’t normally have time to think of doing. Walking into my classroom and tossing my backpack in a chair, I saw my TA left some papers on my table. I figured these came from my mailbox and were probably items to go home with students, until I saw a hand-drawn colored apple written on one of the envelopes. Upon further inspection, I noticed a child’s handwriting:
To: Ms. Allison Stewart
I squealed with joy as I snatched up the envelope, tearing into the paper casing and excitedly screaming to my TA, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS?!?!?”
Opening the letter, my heart melted despite the “life-threateningly cold” temperatures from which I had just come inside. Its contents:
Dear Ms. Stewart,
Thank you for being my best 3rd grade teacher, really funny and super active. You are important to me because you really boosted my knowledge in a really fun way.
Yours truly, Luigi
P.S. You rock.
This is, by far, my favorite thing.
As teachers, we aren’t supposed to have favorites, but there are always students with whom we connect on a deeper level than others; this was one of those students I had last year. He is a brilliant, hilarious, nuanced hot mess who couldn’t sit still on the carpet unless I gave him a shoelace to play with while I did mini-lessons. He laughed at my jokes and we chatted about the stories we heard on NPR that morning, and I’ve never been sadder to see a kid transfer schools at the end of the year.
If there’s something I want my kids to remember after my class, it isn’t content; it’s the life experiences gained from the year. It’s the friendships, the collaborative thinking, the way they found learning to be fun and powerful. I need my kids to know that when they walk out of Room 40’s door in June to become fourth graders, they are prepared to take on the world and they know that they will always have their biggest fan just a building (or an email filled with emojis) away. This is how we make an impact – through our relationships.
What a perfect pick-me-up in the midst of a week of bitter cold and boredom.