Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Teach For America 25th anniversary summit in Washington, DC. The summit had over 15,000 attendees, all committed to improving the quality of education for students in low-income communities. One session that particularly moved me was titled “Fighting Like Hell for Kids: Award-Winning Teachers on Staying in the Classroom.” As we know, our society asks a lot of teachers. Between data analysis, writing IEPs, progress monitoring, lesson planning, grading, communicating with families, attending professional development, and many, many more duties associated with the job, teachers have no time for their own lives outside of school. It is no surprise that many teachers are leaving the field for more sustainable careers.
I wrote this letter to express to my students all of the emotions I had bubbling after this particular session. I do not know if I will stay in the classroom forever, but I do know that I will always fight for my kids in whatever way possible.
Dear students I have taught, teach, and will teach:
I recently attended a workshop for teachers that got me thinking about you. Some of you have been going through a tough time lately– your families are struggling to make ends meet; you have lost friends and family to diseases or to gun violence; you are struggling to understand material in your classes; or you are feeling like you don’t belong, you have no friends, you don’t know who you are. Some of you have expressed these issues to me; many of you are silently struggling with them.
I want you to know that you are not alone. I believe in you. You matter. Every single one of you matters. You are bright. You are strong. You are resilient.
As middle schoolers, you sometimes struggle to communicate effectively. You experience emotions passionately, and you have trouble managing them appropriately. You are sometimes disrespectful to your classmates or to me.
I want you to know that I will never hold a grudge against you. You will always have a chance with me. I will help you find your strengths and help you celebrate yourself and your classmates. When you are feeling down, I will give you the tools to pull yourself back up (because you don’t need me to do it for you). I will fight like hell for you, but more importantly, I will help you fight like hell for yourself. No matter what happens, I will fiercely believe in your potential for greatness. And I will never, ever give up on you.
— Written by Elise Hopkins, KIT Blog Editor
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.