Let’s Be Honest


I recently read my students a book in which a teacher employs a system where her students are able to freely and openly send her classroom mail. In the book, students write letters about the first day, trips, classroom visitors, observations from the principal, and more.

After reading the book, I offered my students the opportunity to write me a forthright and honest letter. I have made some strides lately with this class in terms of being comfortable enough in their own skin to speak their minds, challenge ideas, and show sensitivity and emotions they otherwise might not. I told them I’d like them to choose one of the following ideas to write about:

– What should I know that I don’t?

– What is our class like when an assistant principal or principal visits?

– What is the most important conversation you and I have had? Or, what was the best conversation our class has had?

– Did we do anything special this year that made you feel proud to be part of this class?

– Did I do anything this year that I was wrong about?

Here are some samples of what students wrote. Take note of their honesty, which I demanded from them, regardless of the sentiments:

Do you remember when we were singing for the graduation? You were dancing a little, right? Other students were laughing. But I was just going red in the cheeks. It is like you are my dad doing something totally embarassing. But I am not saying that I … want you to stop dancing. You could dance all you want. You can even dance while you read this. But I still will be embarassed. To the best teacher ever. From, Lorelei

I think you’re the best teacher. When I first saw you I thought you were very strict. But as days passed, it seemed that Mr. Foteah wasn’t strict at all. And I knew that Mr. Foteah could be my #1 teacher and it was real. Mr. Foteah is the best teacher in the world. Sincerely, Leo

I’m not sure what you wanted us to think when we first met you. But I thought you looked brave and proud of the class and students you got this year. And I was proud of the teacher I got this year. Also, my mom is proud of the teacher I got this year. She’s always bragging of how good of a teacher you are. I could not agree any more. Actuall, I think I will cry when I leave. Sincerely, Vivian

I think you shouldn’t tell me to go to the trips. That is because I got so bored. …I’d rather stay at school and learn. So I hope next year, you won’t tell a student who doesn’t want to go to the trip to go. Mostly the ones that will vomit. Your student, Mighty Mouse

I’m sorry because I behaved bad with you in the middle of the school year. I felt really sorry. Sincerely, Nick

When we went to the basketball game, some of us were bored and hungry and we felt like we wanted to leave. To tell you the truth, I didn’t enjoy the game. Sincerely, Bruce

When you first came inside of the classroom, I thought you were mean and hated everything fun but you’re the exact opposite. You helped me with your problems. You’re the only teacher that encouraged me to hold a pencil right and go the extra mile. by Jay

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