Old-Fashioned Letters

Today is the kind of day I wish I could pause. The kind where the sun shines brightly all day in the cloudless sky but there’s still a calm, cool breeze blowing. The kind where everything is still and peaceful. Perfect hammock weather, you know, provided you’re into that sort of thing, actually own a hammock, and have two trees in your yard to attach said hammock to. Of course, sitting on your back porch sipping lemonade with your feet propped up on an extra chair works almost as well. So well, in fact, that maybe you lose track of how long you’ve been outside and you discover that it’s actually much, much later than you thought it was. (DST 1, Me 0.)

Days like today help me plan my lessons. Not the sitting-in-front-of-the-computer, typing-it-all-in-and-making-it-make-sense part, but the what-do-I-want-my-students-to-actually-learn part. One of my goals as a teacher is something I won’t be able to measure: while I want my students to be excited about their education and futures, I want them to be good people. I want them to value kindness, have integrity, and to treat others with compassion. I want to build character that permeates into their homes. I want my students to love well.

But in order to build that kind of drive in my class, I have to already have it within myself. Anyone who’s been around children for long periods of time understands that you replicate who you are, mostly through your actions. So ideas of kindness, citizenship, and compassion have to be my first responses, not just words I say when two of my students are arguing with each other. And more importantly, building character is intentional, not just a defensive maneuver you squeeze in if you catch one kid pushing another.

This week we’re going to learn about writing letters and how important it is to take the time to send mail. Emails and texts are effective methods of communication, but there’s something special finding something in your mailbox that isn’t a bill or an advertisement for life insurance. At least, for me there is. It’s the feeling of being noticed, whether it’s a thank-you or a letter from a pen pal, where someone made an extra effort. For you. Because they value you and think you matter. And that’s what I want to teach my kids, both my future biological ones and the ones I parent for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.