Each year, on the last teacher workshop day, I would write a "goodbye" letter to my students, then post it on my website for them to read. I would reflect on the school year and share my thoughts and feelings with my students. It was therapeutic. I thought it was a good way to bring closure to nine months of working together. Plus, I wanted my students to know how much they meant to me and that I would miss them. So I would sit at my desk, at my computer, in my vacant classroom with my iced caramel latte and write to my students about highlights from the school year, things I learned, things I hoped they learned, wish them luck in the future and let them know that I would always be there to help them, if they needed it. I would get sad knowing they wouldn't be my students again and that even though they would stop by and keep in touch, it wouldn't be the same. The "goodbye" letter was also a good way to reflect on the school year and think about if my class was the experience I wanted for my students. Did I inspire anyone? Did I challenge anyone? Did my students have fun? Did they think and create and discover on a regular basis? Did they enjoy my class? Did I work hard enough on building relationships? Many questions I asked myself and nowhere in that list did I mention standardized test scores. So, as the year ends, I would encourage you to write a 'goodbye' letter to your students. It would mean a lot to them.
The school year is about to expire. With it, I will end my time as Instructional Coach with Sioux Falls and be moving on to a new challenge in my educational journey. I will be an instructor at Dakota State University, in Madison, SD. I will be teaching social studies methods, geography methods, Native American studies, and The Middle School. I am excited for the challenge and the opportunity to work with college kids. I hope I can bring fun, engagement and excitment to these students and show them that school should be fun and exciting! It should be emotional and something you look forward to. To show them that school isn't just a building or a classroom, it's just learning and growing as a person, whether that's in social studies, math, or just as a person. Whether that's in a building or a coffee shop or a football field or walking down the street. School is a place that we want students to grow and be curious and to think and to wonder. My goal for my daughter's teachers is the same every year: Make sure they like school at the end of the year. If, by the end of the school year, they don't like school, then the teacher failed. Make sure they continue to be curious. Nothing would upset me more than for a teacher to crush my kids2-year-oldy. Kids are born naturally curious. Hazel, my 2 year old daughter, is curious about everything. How something works, how something feels, what happens when you touch something, what happens if you throw something, what something looks like, what her sister's are doing, what's happening on t.v. or the ipad or outside. I didn't teach her that. She was born that way. Not because she's special, but just because that's how it works. Kids are born curious, then at some point, they lose that or it's taken from them or it's crushed. School should be a place that grows curiosity and a place filled with emotional attachment. So how do we foster curiosity in our students? Be curious yourself. About a new topic. About life. About anything. It will spill over and ooze out into your classroom and your students will know what it means to be curious.
Check out this video of the little boy who fell into the Silver Back Guerilla enclosure recently at the Cincinnati zoo. How frightening for the mother and the child. The child wanted to go "play in the water" in the enclosure so he scurried off and jumped into the enclosure. He is only 3 (or 4) so he perhaps didn't quite understand what he was doing. But the video is fascinating to see how the guerilla treats the boy and the panic that must be going through the mom and boy. Though the boy emerged unharmed, it's a sad story because the guerilla, 17 years old and an endangered species, was shot and killed to protect the boy. Tranquilizers were an option but the zoo staff feared the tranquilizers would cause the guerilla to lash out against the boy and/or possible pass out on top of the boy, thus crushing him.