The letter I can’t send to my students

Dear Students,

I know you are confused. I know you hear snippets on the playground or from your parents but a lot of what you hear doesn’t match up with what you know.

You know that your teachers have always encouraged you to join clubs and try out for teams. You know that when you did, the teachers were always there, encouraging, teaching, celebrating your accomplishments.

It’s confusing when what you know doesn’t match up with what you hear. And I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT. I hate that I can’t talk about it. I hate it that you have questions and I can’t answer them. It’s what I do – answer questions, encourage discussions, monitor debates.

In the classroom I continue to teach. We will spend hours mastering protractors and perfecting paragraphs. I will continue to pat you on the back when you display good character and remind you when you don’t. I will teach you that in groups you must do your share and have your say. I will mediate your disputes, demonstrate acceptance and expect kindness.

But this, I cannot talk about.

I have always taught you to stand up to bullies. To stand together. I have taught you that you have a voice and that you have an obligation to use it.

That is what we are doing. Teachers are standing up in the only way we can. We are making our voices heard and we are holding the bullies accountable.

I hope you understand that the extra stuff in school is just that, extra. Given to you as a gift by teachers who want to see you shine. Enjoys the gifts you are given. Remember the gifts you have already received and anticipate the gifts that are yet to come. But do not punish the people who have no gifts to give.

Someday, I hope you will remember that your teachers stood up and faced their bullies. And I hope that I remember that I felt my students standing behind me.

Mrs. Mills