I wrote this letter on the second day of the 2014 Eastern Michigan Writing Project. We went on a writing marathon to various locations in the area and this piece came out of our first stop, which was at Whole Foods of all places. Now that I'm coming back into the classroom in the fall, I felt the need to let my students know just how much they mean to me. I don't think this is the final version, but I do want to read this to them on the first week of school.
To my students:
I want you to know that I believe in you. There are innumerable messages coming at you these days from people telling you that you CAN'T:
These students can't even identify what a verb is.
These students can't write.
These students just can't learn.
But through the sea of voices telling you what you can't do, I want you to listen for my voice across the din and hear me saying that you can. Let me be your beacon, a respite from the storm because you, too, serve as my guidepost, a constant reminder for why I continue to weather this storm. I hear the same discouraging messages, telling me that I'm not doing enough to make you "college and career ready." While you are being called "these students" I am being called "you people" and in one reductive swoop, informed that I want too much despite never doing enough.
But to me, you are enough. You keep me passionate and excited to come to work everyday even when all the other noise that surrounds me (testing, teacher evaluation, politicians, scripted curricula...) is telling me I want to quit. I did, in fact, quit for a year. But do you know what ultimately called me back? Each and every one of you.
You make me happy.
You make me fullfilled.
I believe in you.