Every year, I ask my departing fifth graders to share what they’ve learned about language arts and about themselves throughout our time together.
Every year, I tell them this is the last thing I will remember them by. I only give them two rules: letters need to be written in letter form, and I want them to be written by hand.
Every year, I tell students I don’t read their letters right away, but I wait until a day where I particularly feel like I miss them.
Today was that day.
Here’s what I love about reading through these letters:
1) The doodles, drawings and decorations – particularly the “trademark” ones certain kids drew all the time.
2) The way each letter encapsulates every one of my kids and their personalities, without fail. Who’s inventing their own language? Who constructed their letter via origami? Who wrote four lines and moved on? Who encoded a secret message? If you asked me who it would be before I opened the letters, I still would have been pretty darn accurate.
3) What the kids absorbed from their experience. Whether it was a meaningful quote from The Little Prince, a love for all things reading and writing, the kids were listening, and they were learning. I’m proudest that some of the kids reflected that our time together was safe, protected, a place where they felt the freedom to be a fuller version of themselves. I can’t think of a higher goal than that.
In keeping with what I’ve started in recent years, I’ll be writing them all back. Soon, I’ll dust off the writing paper and the Flair pens. In the meantime, though, I might just breathe deeply enough that my lungs match the fullness of this here teacher heart. ❤️
11 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Dispatches from Fifth Grade”
Ahhh, this is a heart warming story! I can feel the connection you make with your students and the comfort and joy you instill in your classroom. This is a wonderful idea…and a great way to start the new year, reflecting on the previous one and remembering your special friends. Love it!
Thank you! And I’d agree that these letters are wonderful for reflection, especially after a difficult year. Things like this remind me that there’s still joy and wonder to be had. =)))
Yes…it’s amazing how one can find joy if they look for it. Have a super school year!
What a lovely ritual. And that last image…of course that makes you repeat the ritual, year after year! Thanks for shairng!
Right? It’s amazing to me how “The Little Prince” continues to resonate with students across the years. One of MANY timeless texts, for sure.
What a great tradition! Saving these letters until a time when you are really missing your students makes the content of the letters much more heart warming. I am sure they bring a smile and maybe even a tear.
Thanks! And ohhh yes. Reading these letters gives me ALL the feels. I have such respect and regard for these amazing humans, so having these pieces of them is quite meaningful.
What a beautiful tradition! I love this so much – every part of it!
I remember writing the letter! Thank you, for all that you’ve done for our Navigate crew. Even if I didn’t join in 1st grade, four full years with you-online or in person-changed the way I looked at writing. So thank you, again.
-Honsye Zahoo (kinda maybe sort of your old student of 2021-2022)
P.S. I hope I get your response back soon!
Soooooooo did you get your response back? It certainly got mailed, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
This is an utterly marvelous tradition. A wonderful way to close the year and yet let it linger just a tiny bit longer knowing you will read and respond to these at some point over the break. But Lanie, the last one – oh my goodness. The sentiment shown over the fact that the student cared enough to redraw it get it right for you, and the fox’s charming smile says so much that taming than the actual words. Did you hear me cooing “Awwwww!”?