On feeling encouraged about teaching

27 02 2011

At school last Monday, for the early start day, students were asked to write 3 letters of encouragement – one to a friend, one to a member of their family, and a 3rd to a teacher, which would be collected and distributed. This was a movement against the usual lack of gratitude we often demonstrate, and the intentional speaking and writing of encouragement started something amazing this morning. As students’ heads were bowed in concentration over their papers and the occasional giggle was heard, along with affectionate (and not-so-affectionate) nicknames, the task at hand seemed to consume their energy, and letters were written, rewritten, and then separated into sections to be given to the subjects.

I led one of the sessions, the one for the junior class, and the number of letters I have been receiving has been overwhelming. They were full of encouragement, and I have spent a considerable amount of time reading the notes. They would not be sold for much money as works of art; they don’t always demonstrate good penmanship; the torn edges are mostly jagged and uneven; but each and every note is perfect to me. The multi-coloured sheets of torn-up A4 paper are beautiful to me, and I feel impossibly encouraged right now. As I sat there at my workstation in room 528 of the school, some freshmen were giving presentations on the French Revolution for Modern European History, and I felt like I was in my own, separate bubble of existence, hearing the words kind students had written, and which will buoy me up in the times when I will feel frustrated or tired.

The reflection above may have been written almost exactly one week ago, but the thought of the coloured pieces of paper still encourages me and inspires me to work harder at teaching well, and not just plain teaching. I long to be a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of my students.

For now, this image will do, although I had meant to take a picture of all the letters I’d received.

Also, a big Happy Birthday to my sister, who’s 22 today and will be a freshman come September out of hard work. Congratulations!

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