Friday, December 31, 2010

The January Letter

Tomorrow begins a New Year. As English teachers, our goal is not only to teach the language and reading skills, but also skills of self-reflection to our students. In many ways, English is a catch all place to learn all the skills that just don't fit anywhere else. January is a great time  for self reflection. I have my students follow this letter created by a teacher in my building:

The Traditional “January Letter” to Yourself

January is named for Janus, the Roman god of the two faces that faced both backwards and forwards.  So, it’s appropriate to pause in January to reflect on the year past and the year to come.

In a letter to yourself, to be sealed, saved, then opened and read in January 2012, reflect on 2010 by writing your thoughts on some of the following:

·     what events represented highs and lows:  most exciting, most frightening, most satisfying, most frustrating, most depressing, etc.?
·     which people in your life mattered most to you?  When and how?
·     what were you most proud of accomplishing, and what was that like?
·     If you could change anything about 2010, how would you make it different?

Now look the other direction and consider 2011:

·     what would you most like to accomplish, personally, academically, athletically, etc – and how do you plan to do it?
·     what predictions can you make about yourself, your family, a favorite sport, politics, music, the world scene ….?
·     what resolutions or promises to yourself can you make?
·     what wish for the world and its people can you make – what change would you like to see happen for the health and safety of others?

Since I have my students do this every year, I thought it would be a good idea to do this myself.

Dear  Mrs. B,

This past year has been crazy. I've had a lot of great times and some scary and sad moments as well. When the year started, I found out that my sister was pregnant. My sister-in-law was just months away from delivery. My own son began the year by learning to walk on Super Bowl Sunday! The year just kept getting better. My niece was born on my son's birthday and my son had a great birthday party. To make things even better, my students responded really well to a new ORQ teaching technique really well and their scores began to skyrocket! 

As the year went on, things got a bit sad. One of my students accidentally shot his younger brother. Another one of my students brought a knife to school and was removed to alternative placement. My sister ended up on bedrest with her pregnancy and when she finally did deliver, she ended up back in the hospital with an infection. Things got really scary for my family at that point.

The frustrating moment came in September. We were told we were going to be audited. Our school, which is dedicated to serving some of the most awesome and challenged children in the district, was told we weren't good enough. We began to prepare for the impending audit in a daze. 

The people that have meant the most to me in the last year were obviously my husband and son, and the rest of my very large, very awesome family. My students, all of them, have been very important to me. It appears that I may have started becoming more important to them considering the number of kids that randomly show up at my classroom door!

I'm most proud of accomplishing my weight loss. I made a resolution at the end of 2009 to lose weight, and I did. I lost a total of fifty pounds and have kept it off. I still work out regularly and eat as healthy as I can.

If I could change one thing about 2010, it would be the audit. I know our school will come through fine and they'll see how amazing we are. It's still frustrating to have your work, motivations and results questioned.

As 2011 approaches, I'm going to continue my goals regarding my health. I'm going to run in the Derby Mini Marathon in May. I will also begin research on getting my Rank I. Working at my school can apparently get me a discount at state universities, so I'll see how I can use that.

For my resolutions, I'm going to stick to my goal of being as healthy as I can. I'm also going to resolve to potty train this toddler of mine by the end of the year!

In the world, I hope that the economy picks up more. I also want the housing market to turn around, mostly for selfish reasons. I want the unemployment rate to drop. Maybe we can cure something loathsome this year as well.

Overall, I hope for happiness in this coming year. I guess I'll write again in a year. 

Mrs. B

Write your own January Letter. You can leave it in my comments or you can post it to your own blog. If you post it to your own blog, please leave a link in the comments. I love getting to read January Letters! Since my students seal theirs, I never get to read theirs.

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