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Dear Kim


Laurie Stenehjem, a graduate of North Dakota State University and a teacher with more than 25 years experience, is a mentor in the Grand Forks Middle School Resident Teacher Program. Laurie and first-year teacher Kimberly Johnson share their journal entries with Education World readers in alternating weeks.

Dear Kim,

Wow! The school year is over, and you've finished your first year of teaching! Looking back, the time seemed to go by so fast; although some days seemed to last forever, the months just flew.

Your last entry was full of wonderful advice for future first-year teachers. At this point, I'm fresh out of advice. Instead, I want to share my hopes for you in your new job -- teaching eighth-grade English in Fargo, North Dakota.

I hope . . . you make good use of the knowledge you have. You came to teaching with a good background from your own schooling experiences, and now you have a whole year of teaching experience to add to that!

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I hope . . . you continue to care about each student and help each student develop his or her unique qualities. I hope you make sure that each student knows how much you care.

I hope . . . you keep up your optimism, your belief that what you do is important in the lives of your students. I hope you continue to arrive at school each day believing that every student can make progress that day.

I hope . . . you have the resources you need to do your work. Supplies, equipment, space, time, money, and people all contribute to your ability to accomplish the goals you have for your students. I also hope you receive enough personal rewards, monetarily and otherwise, to make you happy that you chose teaching as a career.

I hope . . . you have the energy to do all the good things you want to do. Good teaching takes lots of energy, and I hope you continue to take good care of yourself so you can maintain that high energy level.

I hope . . . you maintain your sense of curiosity about teaching and learning and that you always want to learn more. All the new knowledge about how people learn and how teachers can teach effectively make this a wonderful time to be involved in education. I hope you continue your efforts to keep growing in your profession.

I hope . . . you have patience when it is required -- and impatience when it can make things better.

I hope . . . you find support from the people you meet in your new situation -- finding mentors is always important. I admire your willingness to share your questions and difficulties with others -- even on the Education World Web site ! No matter how long you've been doing something, there are always folks who do some things better than you do. You can learn from them. I hope you develop good relationships with your new administrators, fellow teachers, support staff, and parents. Remember too, your friends here at Valley Middle School are only an e-mail or a phone call away!

I hope . . . you maintain your perspective, even in difficult times. When you get bogged down by details and troubles, I hope you find ways to back up and look at the big picture and the importance of the work you do.

I hope . . . you always hold on to your conviction, that students and their learning are worth working hard for, making difficult decisions for, and sometimes even fighting for.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to work with you this year. I am honored to have been part of your experience. I am proud of you and the growth you accomplished in your first year, and I look forward to sharing this profession with you for many years to come!

With great respect,


Click here for biographical information and previous entries.

Article by Laurie Stenehjem
Education World®
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