Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #25
I was going to include this one later in the year, but it takes awhile to get them all done, so I thought I’d put this tip now so you’ll have some time.
The tip: write “senior letters” for your graduates.
Each year I get between 35-60 grad invites. No matter how organized I am, I simply cannot make it to every single party.
Maybe I could do try to it to them all, but I simply don’t want to limit myself to spending 3 minutes at every single party before moving on. I don’t want to just make an appearance and move on.
Making it to parties on Saturday isn’t much of a problem. Sunday graduations are difficult. It’s just hard to spend Friday night, all day Saturday, and then all day Sunday away from my family.
Friday night parties are the most difficult. After the ceremony is finally over and the students make it back to their homes, it’s usually pushing 8 at the earliest. Before I know it, it’s past midnight and parties are winding down and I’m running out of steam.
So I devised “senior letters” that I write for each senior of mine who either gives me a graduation invite or who takes College Comp 1 and 2. I give this out on the last day of school and tell the students that I will attempt to make every single graduation that I can, but I make no promises.
Last year I found that my GPS sent me on a wild goose chase a few times. At other grad parties I’ve run into former students and ended up talking with them for 45 minutes, which limits the amount of grad parties I can get to.
In the letter I congratulate the student and then thank them individually for taking my classes. I always have two things I offer every single senior in their letter: What I will always remember about you (this is where I explain to them one moment that will stick with me forever about them. This is usually either funny or sentimental. I want to leave the student knowing just how much they impacted me) an Advice I have for you (this is where I can be honest with them and give them some constructive criticism to help them excel in college and the real world).
I get more feedback over these senior letters than I do for anything else that I do.
I usually begin writing them in April. I try to knock off one or two day. Last year was the first time I didn’t actually stuck to this and didn’t have to stay up late the night before. But I have been guilty of that before.