Dear student teacher,
As your mentor teacher, I would be remiss if I didn’t end our year together with some words of wisdom as you make your way into the “real world.” This was not the ending that any of us had planned, and yet, here we are.
Let me start in saying that the work that you did this year made an impact on our students. Although our time was cut short, you made a difference in the lives of our students. Whether it was a funny book, a memorable lesson, or heartfelt discussion, you will be remembered.
Some things have been on my mind about the ending of this year and I wanted to share some thoughts that I have about our year together.
You got to know our students on a personal level. You took the time to listen to them, hear their stories, and find out their likes and dislikes. You connected with each one of them to find out what makes them tick and how to engage them in learning. You adapted your lessons to meet their individual educational needs. This made it all the more heartbreaking to have such an abrupt end to our time together. You didn’t get to carry out all those fun lessons that you had planned. You didn’t get to see them as end-of-the-year learners. You didn’t get to experience the entire depth of the learning process from beginning to end. You came in as a quiet observer in our classroom and transitioned to a leader and teacher before our eyes.
Where you should have been showered, in those last days of May, with handwritten notes from students, thoughtful coloring pages and gifts to start your own classroom, instead you were sent quietly and alone to collect your belongings in an empty school. An empty classroom. There was no fanfare. No tearful goodbyes. No final hugs. No last days of school as their student teacher.
While I am sorrowful for the way that this school year and experience ended for you, I also have to remember my role as your mentor. I have to reflect and point out what you have learned from this experience. What WE have learned.
You were able to witness and be a part of a transition in education that we have never seen in history.
You had a front row seat to see how a collective of educators, staff, administrators and community can come together in a time of crisis to meet the needs of our children and families, whether it was books and supplies, food, technology resources, or a shoulder to cry on.
You got to experience an immense amount of pride for our profession as educators as we shifted to online learning with little or no training, planning, or resources, all in a matter of days.
You were able to get involved in learning how to stay connected with your students and families when we couldn’t be physically close.
You got to practice how to conduct online learning meetings with children that are not accustomed to using technology in this way.
You were able to see our community of teachers take action to make sure that our students’ educational, social, and emotional needs were being met.
You learned how to participate in online groups, virtual meetings, and social emotional pick-me-ups that brought us together as a school and community.
I could sit here and rattle off all the things that you missed out on due to school closures, but I think we should focus on the bigger picture and the lessons learned. While you may not have been able to finish out the school year like all the student teachers before you, you have been gifted with a once in a lifetime experience. You have learned a lesson about the humanity in teaching. That is, how we care for our students, unite as a community, and give from our hearts; because that’s what teachers do.
I wish you the best of luck as you begin your career in education. I am confident that you will take all the things that you have learned this year and make an impact on a whole new group of students in your community. Just remember, we will never forget you and all the things that you taught us.