So, how do you start building? Years ago, around third grade, my teacher wrote us a letter and ironically enough, my professor (last night) did this exact same activity. The teacher letter is similar to the introduction letter most teachers write at the beginning of the school year. The teacher letter is designed as a basic assessment of students. It can start both students and teachers on the same level. The letter is pretty basic, the teacher writes about themselves to the students. Talk about who they are, what they like, what they don’t like and in turn the student writes a letter back. This has become a great activity with in the digital age using everything from Google Docs to Livebinders for students to respond. A simple letter back to the teacher gives the teacher an insight into their students before the school year starts. However, a few years ago, I did something a bit different, I wrote a letter to the classroom or my office since I didn’t have a classroom of my own. That’s right, I wrote a letter to the room. It went like this:
Dear Technology Facilitator Office,
My name is Ryan Read, this is my first year with you and also my first official school where I am in charge of both the teachers and students use of technology. I am new to education, but I bring a lot of passion to the classroom with my teaching. I’m a long time Cubs Fan (don’t judge me). I am a collector of comics, I love to write and create and I take all challenges that come my way. I live in Genoa with my wife and son, who I both love and hold dear. I work every day to make their lives great, especially for my wife, who has had epilepsy since she was six. I am an advocate and dedicated husband to her and I work every day to make her life great, especially for our son. I know I will make mistakes during the year, but I plan on learning from my failures and finding success no matter what happens. So, let’s do this office and make it a great year.
Sounds kind of funny that I was writing a letter to my office and not the parents, but one thing about building is you lay a foundation when you start. What are your hopes? What are your plans? What are you doing as you build? That is the point of this letter, about building your school year with you room first before with your students. This became a tradition of mine. I wrote a letter to my office either digitally or in my smashbook (More on that later) every year. I encouraged this to others, but many said they did that with their letters to the parents of their future students. Something that is different of writing a letter to your parents or students from writing to your classroom is that it gives you time to reflect. What are you passionate about for the coming school year or your new position? Why are you doing what you are doing? I said those things in my letter to my office. It was a driver for my foundation that I was laying for the upcoming school year and for my new position. After it was finished, I put that letter away and took it back out at during the middle of the school year. This way I could see if what I had built was square with its foundation or if I needed to start building on what I had created. Something most people forget it is when something isn’t built quite the way they envisioned it, they don’t just tear it all out and start again. They take what they have built and add onto it to create something even more amazing with what they have.
I know in the Fall of 2013 when I wrote my classroom letter what I built on that year’s foundation went in a major new direction that I could have envisioned, but I didn’t tear everything down to start again. I simple added on and created something even more amazing as a result when the school year ended the following spring. My letter to the classroom always started out with my hopes and dreams every year and then this past August, I almost didn’t write a letter. As we know, my position was cut just a few days before I started writing it. As crushed as I was, I did something different, I wrote a goodbye letter in digital form. Below is the video:
It was that moment I realized that I had been missing something the last few years, I never wrote a goodbye letter to my classroom/office in the last few years. In created the video I realized that I had been missing a big part of my Dear Classroom Letter the last few years. The saying by Tracey Morgan says it best:
“Stand-up is my foundation. That’s where it started at. And I love it because it’s personal. It’s mine. It’s all me. It’s my experience in life.”
The foundation I lay every school year is me, and while the final structure may come out looking completely different than we envisioned it. Its the experience, personal growth and adventure we saw during that building time that defines who we are. We have a vision when we begin our journey and where we end up might be something completely different, but as we know, the journey is always more exciting than the destination. So, get our your computers, smart devices or a classic pencil and paper and write a letter to your classroom, but don’t forget to write a goodbye letter too when the school year is finish. As we know, goodbye is always bitter sweet, but what we learn in the power of hello and goodbye is what makes the journey amazing.