To my 161,
Tomorrow is the first day of school. You might be excited, and maybe a little nervous. Maybe you’re dreading it. I know that I’m a mixture of all three.
I’ve been thinking about you for the last two months. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. Some days I can’t wait to meet you and show you what I’ve been learning how to do for the last few years. Other days I worry that I won’t be able to teach you well. I worry that I’m not good enough for you and that I’ll mess something up and you’ll hate school forever. I worry that I won’t be able to be what you need me to be.
But then I think about how much fun we’ll have together. I think about how much of an honour it is to be your teacher, and I am humbled by it. I think about how I get to see you grow on a day to day basis. I think about how I can teach you things that will delight you and stay with you forever. I think about how I am a good listener and a good planner and that I’ll be able to stay calm even if you decide to freak out.
We’ll meet at some point tomorrow or the next day, and I hope we get along. I will plan and plan in advance, but I really don’t know how it’ll all work out until I get to know you. That’s what I’d really like to do this year. I’d like to know what you’re good at, what you need some help with, and figure out how we can get better at both things, together. I want to be a person that you can come to if you have questions. I hope that I’m approachable and friendly, but that I set boundaries. If all I am for you is consistent, stable and a good listener, I think I’m okay with that. I know that’s what you need the most, and I know I can provide that for you.
You might hear some stuff from your parents or teachers about the government and disagreements and some other scary sounding stuff. You don’t need to know all of the details because you’re just a kid. It shouldn’t affect what happens in your classroom. In fact, I will do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t affect the way I teach or the way you are treated.
I show up to school every day because of you. I want to teach YOU. I am not there for the paycheck or the holidays or the benefits or because I feel entitled to any of these things. I am there because I believe that every child deserves to learn. I am there because I know I can help kids learn. I am there because I happen to think you are pretty awesome.
I don’t know what to tell you about this whole situation other than this: adults forget things sometimes. Adults forget what it’s like to be friends with everyone. They forget how to work cooperatively. They forget what it’s like to be a team and to treat everyone with respect. They forget how to play fair. They forget how to be compassionate and generous and how to listen to each other. But you know who is good at that? You! You are the best at being joyful and generous. You love simply because that’s how it should be. It’s your nature to be hopeful and positive, and to see the best in any situation.
If you learn anything from me this year, let it be this: always remember to love well. Love your parents. Love your family. Love your teachers. Love your friends. Love all of the people around you. Especially love the people who are the most difficult to love because they’re the ones who need it the most. Things will get stressful and scary, but I promise you, everything will be just fine. We will all have bad days, and we will drive each other crazy, but don’t forget that there’s always a reset button. There might be chaos around you, but there is always someone there who cares for you and who will take the time to listen to you.
I promise you this: there is always a solution. There is always a new day. And no matter how hard you try to use it up, you can’t run out of love.
Always remember that, my 161, and please remind me if I ever forget.