I wrote the following letter to my students at the grade 5 Moving On Ceremony this year.
Dear Fabulous Fifth Graders,
You know who you are!
We have had an amazing year. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always taken care of each other. Reluctantly, we’ve said our goodbyes to Layla, Cata, and Santi. We’ve read some amazing books as a class, and each one of you read many more on your own. Some of you, you know who you are, read books that then made the rounds in our class.
Some of you, you know who you are, came into 5th grade not liking to read or write, and some of you were afraid to make mistakes in math. Throughout our year together, sometimes without you realizing it, you became readers, writers and mathematicians, not because your reading, writing or your math work was perfect and you learned everything there was to learn in a year of school, but because all of you developed an appreciation for reading, writing, math and deep thinking. In fact, you found joy in books and stories. Sometimes, you shed a tear or two.
Some of you, you know who you are, came in with a very beginning level of English and now you are able to defend your ideas and opinions with confidence, orally and in writing.
Some of you, and you know who you are, made me laugh every day at least once, and usually more than that.
But all of you taught me more than I probably taught you. Sometimes I failed miserably, but because teaching is really about learning, I had to learn. So, I dusted myself off and moved on. The learning curve for me was steep sometimes. But, in spite of my shortcomings, you taught me to be patient; to laugh; to be prepared for all kinds of questions; to apologize when it was necessary; to realize when I was wrong and fix it; to make changes in my lessons so that you would hopefully learn better and more. After all, how many times did I ask you to be patient as I tried, for the umpteenth time, to make our math stations work for all of us?
You matured, solved problems and came up with some amazing actions in your PYP Exhibition of Learning groups. I hope you’re proud of yourselves for that and for so much more.
So, here is some final advice as you move on to 6th grade:
Never give up when things get a little bit challenging. Remember: if your brain doesn’t hurt, you’re not learning.
Always tell the truth. You’ll feel better about yourself and you will be respected for being honest no matter how difficult the situation.
Read, write, and be curious about the world. Take on the difficult problems in your community with confidence and passion. You are our hope for the future.
And, last, but not least, laugh and be silly. I will always say yes to that.
I love you. Congratulations!