Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Last Lesson

To end the year I shared the story of another teacher and another class with my students. The tale of Mark Eklund and his teacher Sister Helen is oft-told: how she had him in both 3rd and 7th grade, how despite his squirmy talkativity he never failed to thank her for teaching him, and how on one tough Friday afternoon she had her students take a moment and list the nicest thing they could think of for each kid in the class, and how when Mark was killed in Vietnam he was carrying his list, and how all the other former students who attended his funeral had their lists also.

After hearing the story, we passed our writing notebooks around the circle and everyone wrote the nicest thing they could think of about each of us in our book. At the end of class everyone was excited to read the messages, but I asked for their attention one last time.

"Today is our last day together," I told my students, "and I will miss you. But you are all going forward together," I paused and gave them my best teacher look. "Try not to forget to be kind to each other."

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