Letters, Part One

Teachers have a dream letter. It’s the letter that says simply, “Thanks. You helped me.” Sure, it’s an ego boost, but more than that, it’s confirmation that a teacher is doing his job effectively from the only source that matters: the student.

I received one such letter after my student teaching. A young lady in the honors course I was teaching was frustrated with the amount of reading I’d assigned. She came to me after class and explained that she has great difficulty comprehending what she’s read. “I have to have my mother help me. She reads it and explains it,” she said quietly, wiping her tears and glancing about to see if any other students were in the room.

The next day, I gave her a list of techniques I’d created the night before while pouring over all my notes and books from college. I explained how each technique worked, modeling a couple. She used them at home and said they were helpful.

When my cooperating teacher had the students write letter to me before I completed the assignment (one thing you liked, one thing you didn’t, and advice for the future), she wrote a sentence that, though I have long since lost the letter, I remember clearly: “You’ve helped me more than you realize.”

Fifteen years later, I receive another letter.

To be continued

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