An Open Letter to my Incoming Special Education Students This Year

Sunday, August 6, 2017

  Dear Students,

  Welcome to 8th grade! I'm excited to meet and teach every one of you. This can be one of the best school years of your life if we work together. I'm going to challenge you as well as work within your individual gifts. All of you have a gift. Whether you can write, speak, draw, or tell jokes, all of you have a gift that is worthy of sharing with the world.

No, you are not in my class because you are "stupid" or "dumb". You're in my class because you have been chosen to go on a reading and writing journey so you can be the best scholar that you can be. You have some skills already but now is the time to sharpen them.

   I want to explore your cultures, your languages, your fears, and what makes you happy. I want my classroom to be a safe space and I want you to be able to talk to me if something is bothering you. I want you to know that it's okay if you don't like all of your classmates but you will have to respect them. You're not going to love each and every lesson in class but learning is not always fun and that's okay. Learning takes patience and that's something every human being must learn to master, not just middle school students. 

You're not going to like every rule in class and you may try to break them. You're only in middle school so that's expected. You're going to talk a lot and you might get up out of your seat without permission on more than one occasion. I don't expect you to be perfect but I do expect you to learn from your mistakes and strive to be your very best.

  I know this is a small class and you may think that's embarrassing. My past classes have not even wanted to go out during fire drills because people would see us and label us as the "dumb class". You are not the "dumb class". You are just as brilliant and curious as anyone else at this school. You were not put in this class because something is wrong with you. You are in my class because you are a unique learner and it is my job to unlock those abilities the best way I can. 

  You are important and if you put your minds to it, you can do anything you've always dreamed of. Your special abilities will never stop you from being the amazing young men and women that I know you are. 

You will teach me so much this year as well. I'll learn about new music, new trends, and hopefully you can help me become closer to being fluent in Spanish this year. I encourage you to be yourselves and know that this classroom is working for you and never against you. So talk to me, keep me informed, and never be afraid to ask questions. 

     I can't promise I'll be a perfect teacher, but I'll do my very best to make sure that your experience in my classroom encourages you to be a lifelong learner. Your voice does matter so I hope that this class will encourage to use your unique voice to experience your world your way. The only thing that can stop you is not wanting to learn something new and not the God-given abilities that make each and every one of your extraordinary.

All the best and more,

Ms. Johnson

    If you're looking for the perfect read for a girl near and dear to you or a student, check out my two titles "My Hair Is Beautiful And So Am I" and "This Is My Hair And I Love It". Both books are geared toward teaching girls of color to love their natural hair and to become self-confident young women.

for Teachers, Students, and Parents!

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