Dear 6th grade class of 2020,
I cannot tell you how proud I am of you.
This year has not been at all how we expected it to be. Your first year of middle school, abruptly ground to a halt without notice. Leaving our classroom on a Friday, headed in to the weekend that ended up lasting 2 months and went right into our summer.
You all handled it so well. Really. I cannot believe how quickly you adapted, how wonderfully you adjusted, and how you rose to the challenge of learning remotely. Your resilience has not gone unnoticed, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that it will serve you well in the future.
But even before you made this incredible shift, I got to see you grow in our classroom. And my goodness, did you all do me proud. The progress each of you made is astounding, and I’m not just talking about reading and writing skills (though you guys made HUGE growth in that area).
I’m referring more to the growth you made as people. As thinkers. As questioners. As explorers.
You came into our classroom anxious, unsure, and for some of you, afraid. But I’ve seen you blossom into confident, kind, and wonderful middle schoolers who are ready to take on the next chapter in seventh grade.
I know I pushed you. I know there were times when you were frustrated at my refusal to answer your questions or my consistent request for more, for better. I know that many of you were pulled outside of your comfort zones, into a world of gradeless learning, and I am so proud of the way you stepped out and shone. I never would have let you flounder, but you showed me (and yourselves) just how high your potential could reach. You should be so proud of everything you have accomplished this year.
And man, did we have some fun. Our silliness and laughter filled the four walls of our classroom, often spilling out into the hallway and spurring Mrs. Atkins to come see what was going on. Our “class walk”, dance parties, and creatively named plants hold such a special place in my heart, just like each of you do. Our circle time Fridays were so special, and I thank you for entering that journey with me; I am grateful that you shared parts of yourselves with our class and filled our classroom with love. You made me smile every day, and every day was a little brighter because of you.
I also must take a moment to be sad with you. Sad for all the things you did not get to have this year. While many are talking about the missed proms, graduations, and clap-outs for our seniors, 8th graders, and 5th graders, you missed out on the excitement that comes at the end of your very first year of middle school. My heart goes out to you. Because while these events aren’t the “big ones”, they are still memories you did not get to make. Take time to feel these feelings. You should. But also take time to reminisce and cherish the memories you did make. The new friends, the PE skating unit, industrial arts class, incentives with the whole grade, and cringing at my rhymes at lunch. Those memories can’t replace the ones you didn’t get to make, but they are still important. Still something to hold on to as you get older and “grow up”.
Big changes are coming. You know that, and I do too. It’s okay to be a little nervous. You’re not alone in that feeling. Change can be daunting, especially when we aren’t really sure what it brings.
But know this.
I am here. No matter where we are or what we are doing, I will be here if you need me. I hope to hear about your greatness in the future, and I cannot wait to see how you each change the world. I know you will. Because you can.
Use those voices, ask those questions, and continue to shine brightly.