Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. ~ Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von
I’ve always found letters magical! They empower one to write down feelings and observations using emotional syntax far more powerful and intimate than speech. As a child, I looked forward to letters that my father wrote back home as they were keepsakes and gave me a supreme sense of joy. The birthday greeting cards in school and then at college were even more special as they carried an exclusive message for me and I loved the simple yet heart-tugging signature at the end.“ Lots of love, Papa”
I am a hoarder of letters and cards and have preserved even my first love letter from grade nine to this day. Over the past year and a half, after getting tired of the constant tattling from my students about the most trivial things, I struck upon an idea. I told them that they were not allowed to disturb me while I taught the class and if there was something they wanted to say to me, they could write it down in a letter and give it to me once the class was over. What followed was an overwhelming flurry of letters! As I write this, I have letters from my students tucked away all around my room: in the notebooks, textbooks, under my bed, inside my bag pockets, and in the drawers. Through the letters, most of them address the need for a change of place as they’re not pleased with their current bench mates, few have concerns about someone not talking to them, some urge me to take them for special outings that I plan every now and then, while still others just make silly doodles and write a line telling me that they love power rangers or Ben 10 or the like.
I realized that while my kids were writing so many letters to me, I was barely using the medium I had empowered them with. So, I decided to make a conscious attempt to write personal letters to my kids praising them for doing some exceptional things while giving suggestions for them to improve where I felt they needed it the most. This enabled me to personalize the message while ensuring the child was not reprimanded in front of peers or felt belittled in any way. I plan to write letters to all of my kids, four letters at a time!
Here are the first four letters I wrote:
Harsh: A child who shows initiative in everything, excels in studies, and loves phonics. The Magic E is a tidy rule to help young learners differentiate between the long and short vowel sounds and spell and read words with two vowels, the second vowel always being an E, correctly. Harsh is so enamored by the rule, he’s constantly finding new magic E words and jotting them down in his notebook.
Letter to Harsh
Akash: He is the ever-vigilant tiffin monitor of the class! His duty is to ensure that every one eats healthy food during recess . I taught the class a chapter on constituents of food a month back, and he dutifully comes and reports to me the defaulters every day. Chips, kurkure, maggie are not allowed and anyone bringing them is asked to explain ‘why’ and given a warning with a call home from me that evening. Akash is also one of the naughtiest in class and is constantly getting into trouble of some sort.
Letter to Akash
Yash: An extremely obedient and bright boy! He loves to use his “schema” ( life experiences and everything inside our heads) to make drawings and asks some very intelligent questions. He is smart and competitive, but extremely impatient with others.After noticing that he sometimes smirks when others aren’t able to answer questions in class, I decided to address it through my letter. He promptly replied the very next day.
Letter from Yash
Sareena: A very affectionate child and a great artist! She is also extremely aggressive and a master tantrum thrower. At any given time, Sareena is either troubled by someone or troubling someone else :). She writes many letters to me, most of them stating that everyone but she is at fault! After I wrote to her, I actually saw a drop in the number of fights involving Sareena.
Letter to Sareena
I’m really excited about writing letters to all of my students. Not only does it make them feel special, it also makes me reflect on each child and appreciate each one personally for his/her unique traits!