During my second block, as I walked around the room watching students craft letters and share stories, I was hit in the arm with a paper airplane. I looked over my left shoulder and was met with a sheepish smile. "For you, Ms. Ward." Inside, the student had quickly scrawled, "Thank you Ms. Ward for helping me discover a talent I never knew I had."
This is a student who I had earlier in the year as a creative writing student and who now sits in my tenth grade honors English class. I got to know him first through his writing: snarky and clever, quick-witted and insightful. The voice of his narrator leapt from the page; his poetry sang honest and vulnerable. But when he started in my tenth grade English class the following semester, his first essay lacked that voice. So I told him that he needed to bring our creative writing class into tenth grade English. His academic writing would be stronger if he let his voice shine. He is a writer. I'm not sure how he did not know this. But I think this is the unquantifiable part of what it means to be a teacher. A teacher opens up space for discovery. This was reinforced over and over again in the letters that my students wrote Friday.
By the close of Friday, I had the pleasure of sharing 96 thank-you notes with my colleagues and friends who make a difference every single day. I am grateful to work with such talented and caring peers and with students who recognize these qualities in their teachers.