Leave a Letter for Yourself
At the end of the school year you’re exhausted. It’s all you can do to pack away your instruments and materials, input thousands of grades, get through field day/field trips/special assemblies, and make it out the door to summer freedom. You deserve time in the summer to relax and recharge, but before you leave I would suggest you do one last thing. Take a few moments in your empty classroom to sit down and write yourself a little letter to find when you come back at the end of summer break.
All through my first year of teaching I had to complete “beginning teacher training” with my district professional learning department and at the end of the year they had us do this exercise. They gave us some paper and an envelope and they told us to write ourselves a letter. The letter could talk about the good things that had happened during this first school year, things we might want to change, encouragement for the next year, stories that we don’t want to forget, or anything else. Over the summer the professional development team mailed the letters and about a week before I started my second year of teaching my letter to myself showed up in the mail.
I’ll admit that when I was initially faced with the task I wasn’t too keen on it. If I remember correctly, they gave us this assignment in the last 10 minutes of the last “beginning teacher training” session of my first year of teaching in late May. Needless to say, after all that professional development throughout the year I was ready to get out of the building and go home. However, I sat down and really thought through what I wanted to write to myself. A few months later, reading through that letter at the beginning of a new year was a really wonderful encouragement. I was reminded of the phenomenal growth my students had made, the awesome experiences we had, and all of my exciting plans for the future. It really helped me jump-start into a new school year.
Every year since then when I’m packing up my room at the end of a school year, I take a few minutes to write myself another letter. I don’t go to the trouble of mailing it but instead just seal it up and put it in the top drawer of my desk. When I open the desk again in August, there it is to greet me with words of encouragement and excitement. Sometimes when you’re faced with another school year and all the ideas of looming concerts, deadlines, and learning goals, you forget the joy and accomplishment you felt before. This letter never fails to help me rethink my path and reorient towards new goals and opportunities. In fact, I hang these letters behind my desk and read through them a couple times during the school year. It’s a good way to get perspective.
Maybe you’ve already packed up and left your school or maybe you still have a ways to go before you’re done. If you’re already out of school then write a note and mail it to yourself at your school building and it will be there when you return in August. If you’re not done yet, take a moment to sit down and think of all the things you’ve done this year and what you might want to tell yourself when school rolls around in August. It just takes a minute but is a good way to document and remember.