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A Teacher’s Final Lesson

After I graduated from college in January, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be a second grade reading tutor in the same school where I had just finished my student teaching. I would be teaching the same students that I previously worked with during my student teaching. This made the transition from college student to “real teacher” a lot easier than I had anticipated. Throughout the six months that I spent with my second graders, my feelings changed constantly from day to day. There were days I’d leave school and feel content with the progress the students made that day; and days when I’d leave smiling remembering a joke a student shared with me. Then there were those times when I’d walk out of school questioning whether I should even be a teacher. I was afraid that the students weren’t learning anything from me; and after one exceptionally difficult day, I even sat in my car, in the school parking lot, and started crying. I remember doubting whether or not I could do this, thinking that maybe I really wasn’t meant to be a teacher.

I went home distraught and made a sign to hang in the classroom that said “I CAN Do It!” The next day many of my students complimented me on our new sign. I had been frequently telling them, “the word CAN’T is not allowed in my classroom;” so of course they assumed it was a little reminder for them. They had no idea that the sign was also a reminder for me.

As the months passed, I found myself doubting my decision in becoming a teacher less and less. Whether it was a good day or a bad day, my students helped me to see that I was doing exactly what I was intended to do with my life. Before I knew it, it was June and my feelings about leaving my students were bittersweet. I was so proud of them for all their progress and just as excited to see them move up to the third grade as they were to go, but I was also sad to see them go. This was my first class as a “real teacher” which made these students extra special. I knew I’d never forget them, or how they unintentionally helped me feel confident in teaching; so I wrote them a poem, framed it and gave it to each of my students. I wanted them to always remember that they CAN do it and to never give up. Especially since it’s because of these students I now know that I CAN indeed do this.

You are very special, and I want you to know,

I loved being your teacher; and it’s hard to see you go.

Though our time together this year, has come quickly to an end,

I will remember you forever, my dear second grade friend.

As you continue your journey, you will learn and grow,

Please carry these words I give to you, wherever you may go:

Always do your best, no matter how hard it seems.

And if you do, I promise, you will reach your dreams.

Remember to tell yourself, “I CAN do it”, because I know you can;

Think of all you’ve learned since school first began.

Reading, Writing and Math; I know weren’t always fun,

But I am so proud of you for all that you have done.

You will continue learning as you move from grade to grade,

Keep in mind and think about the progress you have made.

If you feel like giving up—keep trying, you’ll make it through.

I know this, for not too long ago, I was a student just like you.

I had special teacher who taught me something, too;

And throughout this year I’ve tried to teach it to you:

Always believe in yourself and know that it is true;

You will see, you can do anything you set your mind to.

So, as time goes by, you may forget certain things about the second grade

Like the stories we read and the games that we played

But there’s one thing I hope you remember your whole life through,

It’s to know that you CAN do it, and Ms. Mullen believes in you.