Swan Song

Every year, during Teacher Appreciation week (last week), one of our Spanish teachers invites students to write a thank-you letter in Spanish (with an English translation) to give to one teacher. Every year, I get a few of these letters and they always warm my heart.

As I’m closing out my last year in the classroom for awhile, these letters are felt a little more deeply. And as I’m composing my last blog with this entry, I can’t think of a better swan song than to share one of the letters I received. Everything this blog is about – everything I’m about – is centered on students.

For privacy’s sake, I will call this student “Alice.” During the first week of school, I ask students to draw a non-linguistic representation that represents their personality. Alice drew a woman trapped in a bubble. In the “I Am” poem she wrote a week later, she stated, “I am calm and shy, I worry about my future, I cry about my unforgiving past.” Alice hardly said a word this year, but I could tell she was learning by the caliber of her work and through the hungry, scholarly gleam in her eye. When I saw her name on the letter, I was surprised – and excited! The letter reads:

”Ms. Adams, as part of a project for my Spanish class, I was asked to write a letter to a member of the school who has influenced me during the academic year. I chose you because, although I’m sure you are unaware, you have greatly helped and influenced me to be better. On many occasions during your class, we learned about life and the (sometimes) tragic things that can happen to people. These lessons that you have taught us have really helped me understand myself, men, and my parents. Through what I’ve learned in your class, I’ve found the strength to forgive those who have wronged me and, each night I stayed up late to write an essay to meet your deadlines, I reflected upon how the topics of each assignment seemed to mirror my life. The time I spent on work for your class has helped me heal and let go of parts of my past. Had it not been for the work I did in your class, I would not be as liberated as I am now. I will always keep your teachings in mind and am forever grateful to have had you – not only as an English teacher – but as a teacher of life.”

Now, how the heck can all of that be measured with a bubble-test or value-added formula!?



Alaina Adams

Dr. Alaina Adams

Phoenix, Arizona

My name is Alaina Adams and I am a Board Certified educator who has taught a variety of English Language Arts classes in middle school, high school, and higher education contexts for the past 12 years. I am currently working as a leader in full-time training in the Phoenix Union High School District and love the new perspective it brings for teacher leadership development in my urban, secondary setting. In addition to working in an administrative capacity, I also coach teachers on my campus, district, and across Arizona as they engage with the National Board Certification process.
When not working towards total world domination, I am the mother of a teenage daughter, enjoyer of live music, and am an all-around text-messaging, Twitter-following, and Facebook-posting human being.

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