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Opening Day tomorrow. My bags are packed, my alarm is set, I even think I know what I am going to wear. I’ve been through many, many opening days in my time, and I never fail to feel that prick of anxiety. I know that my kiddos are feeling the same way, too…
Dear Sixth Graders,
It’s the night before your first day of middle school, and I know that you are probably just as anxious as I am. That’s a funny thought, right? Who would think that a teacher, of all people, would be anxious about starting a new school year?! But, the truth is that even after teaching sixth grade for as long as I have (longer than you have been around!), I still get butterflies when I think about the start of the school year and meeting a whole new group of sixth graders. I still get nervous just thinking about all that lies ahead for us this learning year, which is such an important one for you.
Tomorrow, you will walk into Room 202, and we will have to figure out some “stuff” together – how your lock and locker work, how to get from one classroom to another in just four minutes of passing time, where the bathrooms are and how bathroom passes work, how to get to the cafeteria and make sure lunch time is pleasant and inclusive, what to do if you get lost in our big building. Tomorrow will go by in a blur, it is a half day after all, and you will leave the building exhausted but also exhilarated. You made it through your first day! Tomorrow will really be a breeze. I am not nervous about tomorrow…but I have butterflies about those first days after, when our work together really begins.
Here’s what I want you to know:
*Our sixth grade life is all about learning how to trust and value each other – we cannot share our reading, writing and thinking lives without those important anchors. Grades and “right” answers are all very well and good, but how we help each other learn is much more important. Our classroom community is built on trust and respect, because the search for answers to important questions begins with how we support each other in this process.
*We will all make mistakes, the important thing is to figure out what we learned from those mistakes. And, the important thing is not be be so afraid of making a mistake that we don’t try, even if it means taking risks and challenging oneself. I never learned anything of value when I played it safe, and I want you to feel safe enough in our classroom to take risks and challenge yourself.
*Be kind to each other from the very first day. We never really know what someone else may be going through at home or with their friends, and we never really know who is suffering quietly or behind an outward smile. Practicing everyday kindness is a way of life in our classroom, it is an expectation and our only rule. You will be surprised how much kindness helps to make each day easier to live in and live through.
That’s it, really. Three things to remember about our year ahead, three things that will, I hope, become part of who you are in sixth grade and in the years after. So, I have butterflies…because I know how big a role I play in making sure each of the above is possible for each and every one of you. It’s an important learning year for both of us!
Here’s to tomorrow, and all the days after. I can’t wait to see you and begin our journey together!