Friday, August 14, 2015

A letter to my students on the first day of school

Dear 1st Grader (Well, let's be real, I should call you "pretty much kindergartner"),
  Did you eat breakfast this morning? I hope so. I hope you ate something healthy and hearty and that your mom and dad woke you up with excitement and joy for you on this big day. And it is a big day! You're in the big time now, baby! School all day. Big playground. Lunch at school. Homework. New friends. Your own desk. Right now I'm pretty sure the big playground and the idea of THREE recesses has you jazzed. And that's ok, those things are pretty cool. I can't blame you for not knowing yet all the other awesome stuff that will happen this year. You will learn to read. Yes, you. You will start off reading cautiously, sounding out letters and looking to me for acknowledgement that yes, you did it correctly. But just you wait. Soon, probably much sooner than your mom and dad realize, you will be reading sentences and paragraphs effortlessly and smoothly. You will laugh at Captain Underpants and your heart will break for Wilbur when Charlotte dies. You will discover a joy in books that I hope never dwindles. Your pictures that you use to express yourself will morph over time into words and then sentences and then stories. There is power in this. Reach inside you and decide what it is you want to share. Then write it, and read it, and admire it. You are a writer. Right now you'll ask me at 9:10, 9:25, 10:04, 10:33, and 10:56 if it's lunch time yet. And around January you'll get a watch and know that you can get those Oreos when the little hand is on the 11 and the big hand is on the 12. It seems to arrive sooner each day. You might not know who you're sitting by. They look different and some are even missing their front teeth (don't be scared, that'll be you in November). These scary unfamiliar kids will become your friends. Some might call you mean names. Don't call them mean names back. Some you might giggle with and I might have to move your seat. You'll go home and tell your family that Mrs. Steele moved your desk and they will give you a stern look and say "good." There are big kids around a lot more than last year. They are taller and louder than you but want to know a secret? I think you are smarter. Don't be nervous, the big kids think you are pretty cute and secretly wish they were back in 1st grade. You'll discover why pretty soon. Right now, you don't know me. And besides writing your name on your coat hook, homework folder, work folder, clothespin, lunch ticket, parent email list, notebooks, door decorations, filing folder tabs, math book, and job chart, I don't know who you are. You are a name on my attendance list. For now. I've been thinking about you for a long time and I am so glad you are in my class (even those of you who illicit a laugh from your previous teacher when I ask about you...then they mutter "good luck." Please go easy on me). You will, with sticky fingers, giggles, naughty playground behavior, broken pencils, and spelling "they" as "thay," push your way into my heart and you will make our classroom family complete. I hope that you were able to eat that good breakfast I mentioned and that you weren't too nervous. I also hope you got some sleep last night because I sure didn't. I was too excited/scared/nervous all at the same time. Maybe you were too. You have no idea what you'll be able to do in June of 2016 and I think it's best that way. Let's surprise ourselves as the days pass. Remember to be nice, treat supplies and others with care, and most of all, if it's a bathroom emergency, don't try and hold it in. I am here for you this year and beyond. Love, Mrs. Steele


  1. This made me tear up! Very well said. That is 1st grade to a 'T' and I miss it dearly. So I, for now, live vicariously through you. Good luck and happy school year! Lots of love!! ~Sara

  2. You are so sweet and inspiring. I wish I could be your first grader. But mine was Mrs. Clark. She's still around -- must be 95 -- and we are Facebook friends, no joke. You never forget the love you have for your first grade teacher. xo (B. Mitchell)

  3. Thanks ladies! Sara, I learned from the best! You are/were super teacher! And Beth, can Eloise please come to my school when she's in 1st grade? That girl would tear it up. :)