Monday, July 12, 2010

A (School) Year in Review, Part 2: Some Words from the Students

To finish up this school year, I wrote my students a two page letter reflecting on the year from my perspective, and they each had to write me a letter back. To put it bluntly, I worked my ass off this year. And reading the letters from my students made every minute worth it. As a teacher, there are a lot of times throughout a given school year when you feel like a failure. I wrote here about how I felt like a complete failure for most of the beginning of this past school year. But, there are also those great moments that bring tears to your eyes, and you are reassured why you signed up to be a teacher in the first place. So I am writing this entry for myself (it's not like anyone else reads this anyway). Because I know next year will come along and it will be good, but it will also be hard. And I can look back on this post really quick and see a little reassurance from some of my former students.

Excerpts from student letters to me (written by a range of students):

"You helped me significantly on the path of finding who I am and what I want to be in the world, not only in the sense of a career but what type of person I will be and what legacy I want to leave. You are one of those teachers that will cross my mind in years to come and I will smile and remember what a great person you are because of your constant openness and guidance. I've always known I wanted to make a difference in the world and you have given me such an amazing platform to do so... You have helped me become someone I am happy and proud to be."

"My views and beliefs of this world and of myself have changed, all just because of this one year. Brooke, you showed me a world that I was so blind to, and I have been inspired to make a difference. I've learned that I can make a difference if I set my mind to it. Looking back to the beginning of the year, I can see a huge change in myself as a person, thanks to you Brooke... In your letter you asked if we, as students, who are part of a culture and a generation that seems to value consumerism and materialism above all else, really care about what is going on in the world around us. I have an answer for you coming from a student, yes. Learning about all the injustices in the world really influenced me... Brooke, you have really had an effect on my life as a teacher and I can honestly say that you're the one who made the most change. I thank you so much for being a great teacher and I hope to make you proud by doing something with my life."

"I just want to say one more thing: thank you Miss Brooke. I know I have acted like a child most of the year, but you didn't treat me like a child. You have treated me like a capable adult and brought out the very capable adult inside of me. I know I have been one of the most frustrating kids in your class, and that is a very bad return for all you have done for me this year. But please don't be fooled by my dim-witted actions, I do really appreciate all you have done for me this year."

"This year has been... different, in a good way. I felt so enlightened about the world around me, it was refreshing, it seems like I was blind before. You seemed to have high expectations for the entire class, the entire year. At times, the amount of work was stressful and hectic, but at the end of projects or essays I was always proud of my hard work and personal achievement. I think you taught with a passion and power that I have never seen in any other teacher, and your assignments only helped get your points across, many though there were."

"This class has changed the way I think of the world and life. Brooke you did a great job in teaching me how to see the world in a different way. I am an independent person and before coming to this class, I thought, if what I am doing is not for me, then it doesn't matter how I do it... I focused on myself a lot and what my business was, and this year was the total opposite. This year was giving, helping, and serving others... Learning about all the people that need my help changed my mentality... I learned that I was very ignorant... I don't want to waste time doing things that are not worth doing. This year I learned to value people and things, and I also learned that there is always a way I can help someone. I want to stand up for what I believe in and also stand up for those who can not."

"One thing that struck me in your letter was when you asked, do tenth graders care? At the beginning of the year, we did not know what to expect but just more work. But once we got into the work... we all saw a different side of the world that never occurred to us existed. This changed our whole perspective on the world. In time, we started to really care about what was happening in our world and how we could make a difference. So, in time we started to grow a passion to want to help those innocent people around the world suffering, but I have to say thank you for bringing this subject matter into our minds to be able to see what was going on in our world... I started to care for those people. So, Mrs. Brooke, we students all really do care."

Okay, that's a long enough blog post.

High school students are cool.


  1. Two thumbs up. I can see how much effort you put into your work, whether it's as a student or teacher, and I bet it feels very satisfying to receive such kind and honest responses.

  2. So the stuff you taught your kids this year blows my mind. I should use you as a source for my master's thesis. So, considering that and the amazing student responses. I'd say this year was a tremendous success. You taught them to really see the world they live in and they saw it. Bravo.

    Now teach me how to do that.

  3. Thanks Brad! I appreciate you leaving a comment on this post especially. It means a lot. (And Matt, too, but you're my husband, so you have to say nice things to me.)

  4. I read your blog! And these letters brought tears to my eyes, you are making such a big difference!