Having students write a letter to next year’s teacher is an easy end-of-year activity that is done often at the elementary level. Students jot down some hobbies they have, things they liked about the past school year, as well as possible plans for the next school year. The activity offers a sense of closure to the school year. But what about the teachers? What end-of-year reflection do we embark on? As I took the first morning stroll of my summer break, I thought that it would be a good idea to write a letter to my next year’s teacher – or to put it another way – write a letter to myself.
Dear Next School Year’s Matthew,
Your fifth year of teaching was indeed a roller coaster ride. You taught 5th grade for the third consecutive year and I think it was both a blessing and a curse. Perhaps the dichotomy of “blessing and a curse” is too strong a sentiment. Let’s just say for a person like you, teaching the same grade for many years in a row seems to have both its positives and negatives. The positive was that in this role you were completely well-versed on all aspects of teaching the age group; you had the curriculum and the time it would take to effectively cover it down pat and you understood the mentality of your students. Because of this, you had the ability to take risks and try new things. You shook things up, in a positive way, and this benefited your students as well as your craft as an educator.
There was also some downsides to this past year. Because you have been teaching the same grade for a few years now, in all honesty, there were times where you got too lax. You relied on what you had done in the past with less flexibility than what you had exhibited in prior years. This created less synergy in your classroom this year. There was enough teaching and talking, but there wasn’t enough listening. You were not as attached to your students as in years past. I don’t know, maybe that comes with the territory of transitioning from a fairly new teacher to a “vet”. Either way, you should not make excuses about your practice. In the relatability/compassion department, as compared to other years, this year your grade was a mediocre B.
Things will change next year. Not only are you going to be teaching a different grade, but you are also going to be doing it at a new school. Change is definitely a good thing. It allows you to get out of a comfort zone and grow as a person. Teaching in a middle school will also bring a unique perspective and experience. Embrace the opportunity with confidence and positivity. This year has been a grind. Perhaps this may have been the first time you truly felt what it meant to be “burnt out”. Take the summer to relax firstly. Use the summer break to grow personally and professionally. Organize your plan for next year and good luck!
See you in September,
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