I told you last week (or was it Monday?) that I wrote a letter to my AP classes this year and individual notes to each student, which I stapled to the back of the general letter. For the past 8 years of my teaching career, I have wanted to write notes to all of my students. This year, I finally did it. (I couldn't write to all of my sophomores, but I decided that was okay. Baby steps.) Could I have spent that time grading essays? Absolutely. Was this a better use of my time? You bet it was. You see, this year was my first year teaching AP, and the thought of it scared the--excuse my pig Latin for a moment--shit out of me. However, they proved all of my fears wrong. I loved teaching them so much that I actually feel a little emotional about sending them off to 12th grade. Anyway, I thought I'd share the letter that I wrote to the classes as a whole. If you don't mind. Here goes.
My Dearest AP students,
When my department head told me that I would have to teach AP this year, I feared for my life. Okay, maybe my feelings carried much less drama, but I worried about whether or not I would do right by all of you. After all, freshmen and sophomores have consumed my life for eight years; my brain could be in a state of Swiss cheese emergency. Truthfully, I also worried I wouldn’t like you because you’d be smarter than I am and act like it. (With more than a shred of acceptance, I can say that some of you are, but I find you far too endearing to dislike you for your intelligence.) Yes, teaching AP for the first time is just as scary as taking AP for the first time. Maybe more so. What if I failed you? What if we didn’t get along? What if you didn’t appreciate my—how do I phrase this?—eccentric sense of humor? (Did you catch my anaphora there?)
I know I am an English teacher, but the words to express how much I’ve loved teaching you this year stick in my throat. Allow me to try. Every one of you has surprised me in the best ways. Just when I think you cannot impress me anymore than you already have, you leave me wondering such things as, “Did that just happen (in a good way, not an I-have-to-write-a-referral-for-that-don’t-I? kind of way)? Did that student really slather himself in mud to play the role of Pap? Did that male student really don a wig and speak in a high-pitched voice in order to play a female role? Did those students just hold a discussion in Parliamentary fashion, clapping included? Did those students just devise a creative solution for increasing their learning while decreasing my workload? Did a student actually draw that masterpiece (and not some horribly inappropriate doodle on a desk)? Did a student really bring in a praying mantis for me? Did I really just read those beautiful words in a teenager’s essay?” Every single one of you fills me with pride.
I recognize how arduous this year has been for most of you, and thank you for taking this journey with me. Hopefully, you feel that taking the AP Language and Composition plunge was worth every all nighter, every moment of intense frustration, every dreaded AP essay, every blasted Scarlet Letter quiz, every group project, and every laborious annotating assignment. Hopefully, you feel as if you learned more than you expected to this year. Hopefully, you feel proud of yourselves and recognize how much you evolved academically. Some of you mastered argument techniques, others persevered in the public speaking arena, others improved every AP essay score by at least one point, and others learned how to manage their time effectively. All of you improved. All of you make me proud. All of you made my eighth year of teaching my best year of teaching.
My mom tells me that I “popped out of the womb wanting to teach,” but sometimes I wonder if all of this passion for what I do leads to making a difference. It is you who has made a difference in my life. So, thank you for reminding me why I went from teaching a bedroom full of lifeless stuffed animals to a classroom full of living, breathing, spirited students.
Thank you, all of you,
Yeah, so, I just reread my letter and teared up. Crikey, am I a sap or what? I tell you what. As crazy as teenagers might drive me sometimes, I love what I do. No, I do not like the bureaucratic educational system, nor do I like the negative light our country currently casts on teachers as a whole. However, I do not teach for those people. It is those crazy, wonderful, impulsive, creative children who inspire me. I shouldn't have to explain myself to anyone other than those kids. After all, they're the only reason I return every single day.
On that note, let's not-so-successfully transition to some pictures of what I wear. Hooray! Feel free to judge me for showing you two outfits in a row that feature these sandals. I'm not sorry. (Focus on how much you enjoy this color combination. It's like summer with a hint of fall. And the shade makes my legs look a little less pasty. Thanks, shade.)
Dress: Pim & Larkin via thredUP
Cardigan: New York & Co.
Sandals: Franco Sarto via Marshall's