Thursday, June 7, 2012

Goodbye to my dragonlings

As I participate in my #TeachersWrite summer camp, I'm finding that I have a lot of writing on my plate on a daily basis. On Wednesday I wrote this letter to my fifth graders. As a resource teacher, it is my delight and reward to often have the same students from second grade through fifth. As such, we develop a very strong bond. Pushing my little dragonlings out of the nest can be hard, but they are so ready to fly free. (As a side note, I have called my room "the lair" for six years now and dragons cohabit with Star Wars in the lair.)


To my wonderful departing dragonlings,

It has been a wild ride. Whether I’ve known you since you were little or this was your first year as a dragonling, I will miss each and every one of you.
Some of you filled the room with boundless enthusiasm, energy, and quite a bit of noise. In spite of the endless “hushing”, you always made me smile. Keep that excitement, as it will serve you well in the many years of school left ahead of you. Maybe, just maybe, take the time to learn when to toss some reins on that prancing pony. There will be many outlets for your effervescence, but not every classroom teacher can allow it to bubble out in daily work time.
Some of you proved true the adage, “still waters run deep”. Your quiet attention and thoughtful insights enhanced your groups and discussions. Reading your journal entries or listening to you contribute in small groups got me to think about things in a new way as well. Remember to speak up when you have something to say. Your unique perspective is important to share.
As a group, you have so many talents. Some of your talents I could directly support, and give you ways to help you grow. The writers and performers and mathematicians among you hopefully found my feedback and instruction valuable in taking your skills to the next stage. The artists and musicians among you have my undying admiration (and jealousy).  Whatever your skill – whatever your passion – take the time to nurture it and it will grow. As a favorite author of mine, Neil Gaiman, said during a recent commencement address, “Make good art”. That is true even if your art is math or science. Get out there and DO it!
Of course, I can’t write to you without a few solid Star Wars references, right? In spite of the fact that Yoda is the master, take his “Do, or Do Not” advice with a grain of salt. There IS “Try”. I believe what he means is that you should go into every endeavor with the attitude that you WILL make it succeed. Don’t go in with failure in the back of your mind. Unless it is science, and then “failure is ALWAYS an option” – Mythbusters. Learn from your mistakes. Unless you are making mistakes you aren’t really taking the kinds of risks you need to make the world a new and more beautiful place. Learn from Han Solo, “Never tell me the odds”. Defy gravity.

Please stay in touch. Email me. Touch base to let me know how things are going. Send me notes to tell me about good books you’ve discovered or new insights you’ve had.

Remember, the Dragoness will always cover you with her wings. It’s time to fly on your own (mostly), but the Lair will always be your nesting ground.

The “Dragoness”

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