Wednesday, May 14, 2014

love letters...better than money!

Today I ran to the office to make a quick copy, and when I got there, Maria, our secretary, said, "Ms. Brezek, I have something for you!"

I replied, "Oh, is it money?" thinking that there was some outstanding reimbursement that the board still hadn't approved. (I actually think they do still owe me some money, but I clearly need to keep better records.)

"No, no," she said as she took some papers from a manilla envelope and handed me two essays by former students, and I thought, "Oh yes, it is that time of the year!"

See, after my eighth graders move on to the high school, they always have to write an essay at the end of their freshmen year about a teacher that impacted their education. Two years ago, I got a few, and this year, I got two more. I love this day - because these essays are much like the letters I used to write with students!

today's letters: a great blog to follow!

Before we blogged about our books, we wrote dialog letters. Students would be responsible for writing one letter a week to me - but all about reading and their books. Then, I would write a letter back to them about their books. Round and round we'd go over the course of the school year, having our own 1:1 conversations about books.

When I came to Heritage, these changed to blogs, but I still kept aspects of the letter writing. When seventh grade began, the first homework assignment was to write me a letter in response to a letter I wrote to students introducing myself. They would write back (on stationary that I provided them) and tell me about themselves. These would be filed into their writing portfolios as an On-Demand writing sample to look at at the end of the year for growth.

At the end of seventh grade, I wrote them another letter (one same letter that was copied for all students) and their last homework assignment was to write me back. I love these "love letters," as Nancy, a fabulous teacher who I got to work with called them. I would bind them into a book and save them:

Here's a letter I wrote to them at the end of seventh grade:

In eighth grade, we continued talking about books, writing blogs about books, and developing our thinking about experiences with them. At the end of eighth grade, I again, wrote each child a letter. This time though, every student got a hand-written, personal letter. They *loved* this, and even though it took ages, I loved doing it too, because then I got back the best love letters of all!

Here's one of my faves from the end of eighth grade last year:

So back to my main point about the freshman essays. This year, Lillian and Kirstin were the two girls who wrote about me. Here's Lilli:

Did you love how she said that I have a degree in Lit Studies? :-)

And Kirstin said...

Anyways, just wanted to share the highlight of my day with you all, and let these two special girls know just how important they are to me. Lillian, you remind me how important it is to *really* get to know someone before I pass judgment and that great relationships take time. And Kirstin, you are always so happy and so positive - I am not sure there is much that gets you down and I love that about you! Also, you remind me that it is great to try new things that might be outside my comfort zone! Thank you both for trusting me for the two short years we spent together, and I hope we are always just a phone call or a text away!

So...any of you do the letter writing, too? It's that time of the year, my first without my own class and I'm feeling kinda sad!

Please leave a comment with your version of the love letters, especially if you are someone who is out of the classroom now, like me!

Happy Wednesday!


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