Things I Wanted to Say to my Students Yesterday (But Didn’t)

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For anyone who’s been living in a cave somewhere in the desert, the end of school has come and gone (for a lot of school districts anyway). So while I was getting ready to finally leave the school last night at 8 PM (the students had all gone home at 11:30), I had some time to myself to think about all the unsaid things burning in my brain that I’d managed to refrain from saying all year…

Dear Certain (Mostly Male) Students,

Really? You wanted ME to sign your yearbook? Me, the teacher you talked back to, ignored, fought against, and seemingly appeared to absolutely despise with every nerve in your body? Not only am I flabbergasted, but I am honestly racking my brain about what to write: “Good riddance”? “I should warn your teachers for next year”? “I’m sure we’d both be okay never seeing each other again”? “Remember that one time you actually listened in class and actually learned something, and we were both shocked”?

Take your pick.

(For the record, I did NOT write anything close to any of those things. I managed to scrape up at least one positive thing to say to every single student, a feat I probably deserve at least a double scoop ice cream cone for.)

Dear Students Who Loudly Griped About Me & My Class Within Earshot,

I get it–I am a hard teacher. You probably aren’t used to teachers actually following up on threats to fail you if you don’t write in complete sentences or plagiarize your work. And even though I’m sure it is discouraging to try and fail at something as difficult as writing, it’s even more discouraging as a teacher to see you give up altogether, as it forces me to do things like pull you in during lunchtime to finish your work or make sure you come in for extra help (which, as you probably weren’t aware, weren’t the ways that I wanted to spend my lunch and my free time either).  I really hope that one day, when you’re much older and (hopefully) a heck of a lot smarter about things than you are now, you realize what I was trying to teach you and you feel at least a sliver of appreciation. (Of course, you probably won’t remember my name by then, but still—as long as you feel the sliver, I’m okay.)

Dear Students Who Dressed All Alike for the Dance & Insisted on Showing Everyone How Fast  (& Provocatively) You Could Shake Your Bums,

Even though I know it’s nearly impossible for you to grasp this, there are more important things in life than “being hot” and “selling your sexy.” So go change into something more appropriate and respectable, stop watching so many music videos, and reach your potential!

Dear Students Who Got Overshadowed by the Constant Flow of Behavioral Problems from Others:

I’m sorry you got so little attention this year. If it wasn’t for you though, I really would have thrown up the white flag and quit teaching forever. I was always amazed at how much you managed to learn amidst my yelling comments like, “Stop doing that!” or “We don’t hit people in class” every other minute to the first group of students mentioned above. Just remember, adversity makes you stronger, and you’re smart enough that you’ll probably never have to work with people like that ever again after a certain point (because sadly, they will probably all have dropped out or landed themselves in jail).

Dear All Students (Frustrating and Delightful, Lazy and Uber-Motivated):

Somehow, despite all the setbacks and problems, I did manage to care about every last one of you (even you stinkers that I sometimes rejoiced at when you were absent). I wasn’t lying when I told you all that I see your great potential—from the laziest of the lazy to the brightest of the bright, I saw growth in you all, a fact which makes me proud of being your teacher. Historically, eighth grade seems to be the most difficult for the majority of people, and you will face things and feelings and drama next year like you never believed. Just remember that your public school days are just for a moment, and before you know it, you’ll all be adults wrangling with your own kids and jobs and finances, and all the lessons you were supposed to have learned will either be helping you greatly or haunting you for the rest of your lives.

So take your pick—-pay the price now to learn what you need to learn, or pay it endlessly later as an adult.

You know my high expectations for you. Now go out and reach them!


Your 7th grade Language Arts teacher (whatever the heck her name was)


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