On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 10:37 AM, Emma Sokoloff-Rubin <email@example.com> wrote:
Hi Uncle Ted, I wanted to ask you a quick favor. I’ve taken on a challenge to organize 50 people to do something I think matters. Here’s what I decided to do: ask 50 people to pick a teacher–teacher broadly used, could be a first-grade teacher, a friend who taught them something, a parent, a coach–and write that person a brief email. Let them know someone’s thinking of them, and gives us a chance to put into words something about what we’ve learned from them. Love, Emma
Compiled notes from many students to many teachers, March 2013
*I miss having a teacher like you in my classes to teach me how to set my chair each day in a different angle and look at the world through a new lens.
*Your example showed me an entirely fresh way to think about being new in a place — open to learning, big and small, always down for an unexpected detour, and just being out and about as much as you possibly can be.
*I’m teaching science now, and I am constantly thinking about what you did to teach me, and what parts of your class I can emulate in my own classroom.
*Your energy and dedication changed the way I experience literature, and I am grateful to you.
*In both writing and dance, I’ve found the pleasure of working and reworking a sentence until it sings. What I’m trying to say is thank you for supporting an obsession with craftsmanship and the ambition to elevate it. The few weeks I spent with you still echo today.
*I remember Ms. H telling me before I left for here to write everything down. I do.
*Most importantly to me now, as a 25 year old, you taught me that I am valuable, that my identity is important.
*I want to thank you again for all the help and guidance you have given, particularly on considering graduate school and how to go about making career choices that will give me direction but still allow some flexibility.
*So, I guess I’m just writing to thank you for being so influential in the formation of my opinions and for encouraging me to figure something out that I perhaps would not have figured out until years later.
*You have taught me more about being a friend than anyone in my life… how to be patient, how to listen in a way that makes the other person feel like they are the most important, how to ask insightful questions that force them to think outside their perspective. You make me feel safe and loved and most of all you continue to make me a better person and a better friend by example.
*At first I didn’t know how to cope, but then I remembered that you taught me how to channel my passion into writing and make it personal enough to make a difference. I’ve since been able to move on in a healthier way because I had writing, and I just wanted to let you know that you played a huge role in that.
*I date much of my thinking about the world, as well as the beginning of efforts to present that thinking in creative ways, to the projects I did in your class, which I remember vividly.
*What you have so amazingly taught me, has brought me where i am today. All the time when I am doing an assignment and someone asked me where i learned that strategy, i automatically say, “Oh, in Ms. R’s class!” and that is very true.
*I was thinking of you the other day and just wanted to say hi. How are things going? (I know that’s a super broad question but I do genuinely want to know what’s new if you have a little time to write.)
*I loved learning from you—I felt comfortable, appreciated and intellectually excited. You and my learning experience with you is the standard against which I have judged so many of my rich and exciting academic experiences as well as those of my kids.
*To inspire myself, I turned to papers I had been proud of writing in the past, and specifically, one commentary I wrote for your class on a passage from The Stranger. I remembered the feeling of sitting in the media center conference room one day, trying to articulate precisely what it is that this book means. There was a swirl of intangible Somethings surrounding it, and I remember being amazed, as I listened to you reaching out into them.
*I figured you may have interviewed Mr. K at some point in your work, and wanted to ask if you knew of him…Thanks to your classes, I’m able to put in context just how foundational some of his early activism seems to be.
*I try to remember everything you taught me. I try to improve as a human being and appreciate those around me.
*Just a reminder of how important my relationship with you and Roz has been to me. Teaching me to never give up, shaping me to be the man I am, and being there to support me always. Cannot express how much it has meant to me all these years.
*My life is being enriched and enhanced through your guidance, wisdom and teachings.
*Even my homework became fun…creative writing and reading literature were no longer a drag for me.
*A teacher’s response: Thanks for taking the time to write such a wonderful note. It made my day, probably my year! It has always been so important to me to foster that sense of spirit that you have. I think that is one of the reasons I loved teaching kindergarten so much, children at that age are so open and honest. Strong willed children are sometimes a challenge, but they always responded well to direction given with love.
*Even when I haven’t seen you in a while, it’s very nice to think about how much confidence you had in me.
*I’m not sure you fully realize the impact you have on the extraordinary life I’ve built, based on choices made from love rather than fear, so I want to thank you, again and again, for who you are in my life.
*A friend of mine and I were recently talking about educators and how good teachers don’t just show you new material, but they make you think in new ways. So obviously I thought of you! I’ve actually been thinking a lot about pedagogy recently.
*You taught me to omit needless words: thank you.
*This idea (that architecture’s beauty, even when it’s a hypothetical exercise, lies in its physicality and familiarity and totally mundane construction details) is something that’s still really hard for me to articulate, so I’m especially grateful and amazed that you were able to help me turn on such excitement about it.
*I can’t remember exact details of your lessons, but I know what I don’t remember: being scared. Math was never foreign, or cold, or convoluted with rules. It was exploratory, discovery, collaborative, fun.
*Just like a spoiled surprise party is never quite as fun as when a celebration is kept well under wraps, the experience of being under your wing really stunned me with its greatness…. Every time I observe you do a procedure, I feel real passion emanate from you; it’s this energy that gives me impetus to follow in your footsteps.
*Remembering how funny we found it when a kid messenger would come into the classroom with a note for you from the office and you’d pull back and deadpan, “You’re confusing me with someone who cares.”
*I remembered that the last time we “spoke” was through a pair of poems — a perfect reminder, that is to say, of all that I admired about you as a teacher and continue to admire these many years out.
*What I learned from you was patience and understanding, but more than that you taught me to trust love, trust passion, and to trust my heart.
*I just wanted you to know that you taught me more about hard work and dedication in our grueling practices after school than any of the courses I took during the school day. Even more, I appreciate your understanding and encouragement for me to follow my passions, even when by doing so I would be hurting the team.
*I took a writing class this fall that reminded me how much writing sustains me *
*From discussing our favorite books to reading my writing, you have always been supportive, creative and thoughtful
*Thanks for teaching me the value of working hard, reminding me that you should always start with “This experiment succeeded/failed,” and showing me that coconut really is a delicious flavor.
*You instilled me a passion for question asking that remains strong to this day. The genuine curiosity that has permeated our conversations over the years is something I try to bring to every social interaction.
*I don’t think I realized at the time quite how much your poured into leading the section, and I just wanted to take a moment to thank you.
*Thank you, whereever you are for teaching me to love piano, for investing in me as a young child.
*Without your class, I think it would have taken me a much longer time to turn what I care about into action, let alone a profession.
*You have taught me what true maturity is, what pure kindness looks like, and the extent of how selfless and giving an individual can be.
*I wouldn’t be pursuing the goals I have set for myself if it wasn’t for your influence.
*From your teachings in the classroom I was able to assess my flaws and gifts and just really evaluate things in my life; from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
*Most of all, I wanted to thank you for how much you helped me build my confidence as a student and as a person…Your constant encouragement really helped me to realize how much I was capable of.
*I just very much admire the way in which you seem to function in your life: balancing family, work with so many elements in flux, and approaching steep learning curves with honesty, integrity and humor (sardonic and otherwise)
*I want to thank you for the huge commitment you made in working with me several years ago and for all the learning and growth I acquired as a result!
*I learn so much from you every day! you’re insight, wit, and generosity constantly inspire me. You’re the best.
*I woke up thinking about you the other night, I think you were in my dream. *
*I want you to know how much I appreciate all you did for our class, and the amount of care you put into your work.
*Thank you for helping me on my journey and for showing me that making a difference in just one persons life is the greatest gift you can give.
*You have done more for my life than I could ever ask for. I am a stronger and better person because of you and I can’t thank you enough for it
*You have inspired me to get out and explore the world and you supported me with lots of enthusiasm when I was planning my trip.
*Each day you remind me of the power of being graceful with others, of pausing to listen though the thousand other things are swirling around in the background.
*Thank you for caring about all of us even before you really knew us, and for showing me what a compassionate leader can look like. Thank you for teaching me the value of courage and persistance in the face of new challenges, and for helping us all understand that change can feel hard but bring great things.
Emma email inspired me to write this post: Remind a Teacher, Coach, or Mentor what they mean to you…