Dear grown-up students,
I hope this letter finds you well, and I know that sounds like it’s just a standard, generic greeting, but I actually mean it. I mean I really, really mean it. If you were ever in my class–whether you were an academic all-star or a struggling slacker, a model of politeness and respect or a frequent flyer to the principal’s office–I hope your life is good. I hope you are successful and happy and using reflexive pronouns correctly.
If you were ever in my class, I also hope you’ll visit sometime. Let me see how you’ve grown! How school is going for you now? Tell me about your plans and goals. Or maybe it has been longer than that since I’ve seen you. Maybe you’re all grown up. Even if it has been years, stop by. Tell me what you did after high school or about your job. Show me pictures of your kids. This isn’t just idle curiosity or making small talk. Because if you were ever in my class, I genuinely care about how your life is going.
And it’s not just me. This is probably true for most of your teachers. Maybe, as I encouraged so many of you, you are planning to be a teacher yourself or you are one already. In that case, you know what I’m talking about. If not, you might find it hard to believe that someone you haven’t seen in such a long time cares about your life. But for most of us, that‘s just part of the job. Your teachers didn’t just invest in your education–teaching you math or science or writing skills. We invested in you. We taught and lectured and corrected and advised because we wanted so much more for you than just what was on the syllabus or listed in our standards.
If you were ever in my class, maybe you thought I was too strict and too particular. Maybe you got tired of me correcting your grammar, insisting you make eye contact, or calling you out for making excuses. Maybe you couldn’t wait to get out of my class. Stop by anyway.
No matter how silly my rules seemed at the time, that wasn’t just fussy teacher stuff–that was me wanting good things for you, wanting you to be prepared for life in the real world. Are you? Did what you learned in my class and at our school help you become the person you wanted to be?
To be honest, if you visit, I might not remember right away the person you wanted to be. I might have forgotten your goals and plans. I might even have forgotten your name. But I want you to stop by anyway. Refresh my memory. Because even if the details have escaped me, I will remember you, and I have not stopped caring about you.
If you were ever in my class, come visit me sometime. Stop by my classroom. Sit in your old seat–or better yet pull up a chair at my desk, and let’s swap stories and reminisce about the good times. Because if you were in my class, even if you were a real troublemaker and you thought I was a real pain, I bet we had some fun too. Maybe I wasn’t your favorite teacher. Maybe you didn’t even like me. It’s possible I didn’t always like you all that much either–after all, we both know kids can be real jerks. But please know that if I got mad at you for sleeping in class, I was also worried about whether or not everything was okay at home. If I called you out for your attitude, I was trying to teach you how to get along with others. And if I scolded you for talking too much…well, my teachers scolded me for that a lot too, so no hard feelings. Whatever your experience in my class and however we felt about each other back then, I did and do want the best for you now.
If you were ever in my class, I hope this letter finds you in the middle of a life that is meaningful and satisfying and free of errors in grammar and spelling. Whatever the case, please consider this letter an open invitation to visit my room or to send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
All my best,
Your former teacher