An Open Letter to my Students at the End of the Year

An Open Letter to my Students at the End of the Year
An Open Letter to my Students at the End of the Year

My students,

I know these last few weeks haven’t been easy. There are so many expectations and much excitement over the end of the school year. I know I’m a little more easily frustrated this time of year and I can seem more difficult to please. I know you are feeling a bit more wiggly as you become filled with anticipation over the fast-approaching summer, but I want you to know something.

I want you to know that as we embrace the blur of awards ceremonies and report cards that this time of year brings, I’m feeling a bit bittersweet. 

I look at you and realize you aren’t the same kids that I welcomed into my classroom last year. You’re all a couple inches taller. You have a different haircut. Your style has changed a little as you’ve grown into yourself a tad bit more. 

I think of how you’ve learned. You’re reading at a higher grade level and you can speak with a confidence you didn’t possess in August. You’re not that same kid I met; you’re different, and that simultaneously breaks my heart and comforts me.

You see, I’m looking forward to this summer as much as any of you. I’ve dreamed about my alone time and I’ve wished time away. I’m proud of the job I’ve done when I realize the kids you’ve become, but I can’t help but wonder if I did enough. Could I have done more? Did I prepare you for the road ahead? Did I give it my all?

And mostly, I did. I had cloudy moments where my vision was blurred by stress from too many papers to grade and too many conferences to conduct, but I always cared. Always. And I hope you always felt that. 

I hope you always knew that I cared; more than you learned how to write a thesis statement and more than you know how to write a coherent essay. Of course, I hope that I prepared you for what’s ahead and made your transition to the next grade easier, but I could live with not being the best essay-grader or the coolest lesson-giver. I hope, more than anything, that I’m the teacher that prepared your heart. I hope I’m the teacher who helped you handle rejection with grace. I want to be the teacher who was firm but kind. I hope I was the role model you needed.

Today, it’s hard to say goodbye. It’s an adjustment to go from welcoming your face at my classroom door each morning to wondering how you’re doing years later. It’s difficult to go from being your safe place to someone you see occasionally in a hallway. 

I know I am *just* your teacher, but we’ve spent five days a week together for the last ten months and change is never easy. I hope you’ll remember me. I hope my discipline made you stronger. I hope my kindness made you feel safe. I hope that my classroom was a place that you learned many things and made many friends; I hope it was a place you genuinely like to be. While I’m a little sad to welcome a whole new group next year instead of continue to know you more, I’ll think of you succeeding where you’re at. I’ll think of how you’ve grown and how you’ll continue to do so. And I’ll not only think of how much you’ve learned but also how much you’ve taught me as we’ve grown.

An Open Letter to my Students at the End of the Year

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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