Yesterday, my former roommate, Cassie, who is currently an assistant school leader at my old school texted me to loop me in on one of my students. This student has been having a tough time recently and feeling very sad--and not just elementary-school-student sad but grappling-with-very-difficult-things sad.
Cassie told this student that he/she (I'm avoiding any revealing details about the student) could select an adult to write to and that that adult would write back. (To be clear here, Cassie also is taking many other steps here to support this student--and this is one way to allow him/her to find a way to express his/her feelings.) My former student asked to write to me.
I've now written two letters, and this got me thinking about all the things I wanted and still want my students to know and believe. I started with the following:
...and today I wrote the following:
What are the essential things that children need to hear, deserve to hear, and must believe about themselves, their worth, and life? For that matter, what do we as adults need to hear, what do we deserve to hear, and what must we believe about ourselves, our worth, and life? I'm starting a list (the first four have already been shared)...but I need help. (Please ignore the fact that they are a mix of first and third person.)
- It's okay to feel sad, and it's okay to admit you are sad. Doing so makes it less scary.
- You are wonderful, strong, caring, and funny.
- Never forget how special you are.
- I am important.
- Even if you think you're not the bravest or the strongest, trust that life will make you braver and stronger than you ever thought possible.
- I deserve to be happy.
- Life will never give me more than I can handle, but that is not to say I will not have to ask for help.
- It's not easy, but I can and will have the courage to get up and try again even when things are tough.
- Never ever forget to say I love you.
- Be kind.
- Love wins.
- A cheerful heart is good medicine.
- Laughter really makes things better.
- There is goodness all around you--sometimes it's hard to see, but trust me, it's there. If you look hard enough, you can find goodness.
- I deserve to be loved.
- I am enough.