Sunday, August 30, 2015

Letter to my students at the start of a new school year

My Dear Students,

Tomorrow, you start a brand new school year. You're excited and I'm excited. My heart is full with so many emotions as I prepare to teach you for another year. I feel both honored and humbled by the opportunity to be part of your lives again.

You've helped me clean and organize the classroom. You've labelled and personalized your notebooks. I've watched you organize your pens and pencils. There was a general buzz of excitement as you tell me that you're looking forward to the new school year. You've told me about the subjects that you're most looking forward to: Spanish, History, Spelling and Science. And yes, we'll be learning all these things, and so much more. You'll learn about decimals, the Crusades, how to use a microscope and how to spell words like 'squeeze' and 'Avenue'.

But those aren't the things that I consider to be the most important parts of this year. I want you to learn to think for yourself. I want you to learn how to evaluate information and come to conclusions for yourselves. You'll see that I don't have all the answers - and that's okay. We can search for answers together. I hope you'll gain self-confidence, poise and maturity. I hope that your love for learning will increase and that you never lose that curiosity that sometimes makes my job a little harder. I want you to see yourselves the way I see you: adorable, intelligent students full of potential. I want you to know that you can do anything and everything you set your minds to.

I'll be hard on you this year - just as I am every year. I'll push you. I'll make you do things that you might not want to do. And there'll be times that I don't let you do things that you want to do. You'll write more. You'll spell more. You'll do more math. You'll read harder books. You'll have to think harder and work harder than you've ever done in your short school lives. I'm sure there'll be times when you get frustrated and when you'll frustrate me. And that's okay. Do you know why I'll push you? Because you are so smart. Because I know you have the ability to succeed. And because I would be doing you a huge disservice if I let you get lazy or to plateau. You deserve more than that from me. I'll give you my best and I won't let you do any less. So even though there'll be frustrations, maybe even some tears and days when I wonder 'where did I go wrong?', at the end of the day, I love you so much and I know you love me, so we'll be okay.

But we'll have fun too. Don't worry. This will be a fun year. We'll paint. We'll play games. We'll do experiments. We'll make messes. We'll laugh. Because learning should be fun. Perhaps, if I show you how much fun learning can be, you'll never want to stop learning. Also, I think learning should reflect real life. And life can be frustrating, messy and just plain hard. But it can also be full of wonder, fun and laughter.

My precious students, I hope that you'll learn a lot this year. I also know that I'll learn much from you too. You have the whole world at your feet. Your possibilities are endless. And I want to help you get one step closer to those dreams that you might not have even dreamed of yet.

Here's to another year. May it be our best year yet. So let's pick up the pens, pencils and markers. Let's crack open the text books and notebooks. And let's get to learning.

Your very excited Teacher.

Friday, August 21, 2015

I've Still Got A lot of Fight Left in Me

This week has been somewhat difficult for me emotionally. There are times that I get too into my head and can't find my way out. And this past week was one of those times. I had way too much on my mind, I was tired because I haven't been sleeping well. By this morning I was at my limit. I honestly didn't even want to get out of bed. But I did. And I had a song stuck in my head. It's one of the most popular songs of the summer 'Fight Song'. (If you haven't heard it yet, you should give it a listen.) Mr Caramel has this theory that the best solution for songs stuck in your head, is to actually listen to them. And that's what I did. And I'm glad I did.

It reminded me that even though I am so tired - physically and emotionally - I still have some fight left in me. I started thinking of all the things that I've fought for in my life. I've been fighting and struggling for so long. I fought to come to the U.S to go to college, when so many people said I couldn't. I sent out close to a hundred job applications before getting my dream job. I fought to marry Mr Caramel when some of the closest people in my life didn't approve (and still don't). But each time I fight and succeed, it makes the victory so much sweeter.

So I'm going to keep fighting because I have so many dreams that haven't been realized yet. I will take Mr Caramel to see the place where I grew up, even though it costs thousands of dollars. I will get my American Green Card, even though the American immigration process is costly, difficult and time-consuming. Mr Caramel and I will own a home of our own some day. One day, we'll have the life we're dreaming of - complete with kids, dog and porch swing. You know why? Because I'm still fighting. And the difference this time is that I have someone fighting with me. This is not to negate all the wonderful people who've supported me all along. But it's different having someone to actually fight with me, to believe in the same things that I do and to hold me at night when I'm ready to throw in the towel.

I believe in my dreams. Passionately. I've always gone after what I wanted with everything I had. And I'm not about to change that. So I'm going to fight. And keep fighting. And one day, my dreams will explode into reality.