Another year, another letter…sort of

I write a letter every year to students, but this year is a bit different. Video and text below. Year 14!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Dear Students,

This is my fourteenth year of teaching, so this is my fourteenth year of writing my students a letter of introduction.  I love the tradition of capturing who I am right now, and finding a way to share that with my students.  Normally, I’d read the letter out loud in class.  This year, because of the global coronavirus pandemic, I have to settle for reading this over a video.

Hello, hello, hello.  My name is Mrs. Griswold and I miss you.  Yes, you.  You, who I just met last week.  I miss you because I love teaching.  This global crisis has made me pay attention to what I really care about by noticing what I miss. Those are the things that really matter to me.    

I really miss my classroom.  I love being with students every day, teaching, laughing, working hard, and celebrating my students’ work.  Here’s what this pandemic has made me see clearly: I love my job.  

And I really love working at Graded.  I am an American, but when I was in 5th grade, I left the United States and moved to Mexico City.  At the start of 7th grade, I moved to Caracas, Venezuela.  I love teaching at an international school because that was how I grew up.  I speak Spanish and Portuguese, and I love travelling–another thing I am missing during this pandemic.  We moved to Brazil 2 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee.  We really love living in Brazil and can’t wait to get back to exploring it.

I have a husband who is a math and computer science teacher at Graded, and three kids who are students.  My son Calvin is in 3rd grade, my daughter Matilda is in 1st grade, and my son Everett is a K3.  One thing I really, really miss is being able to leave my house each day and focus on being a teacher.  I also miss being able to leave school and go home to focus on being a mom.  Now, I’m everything at once, and that’s really hard.  

Since I can’t do many of the things I miss–museums, parks, movies–I’ve focused on new sources of joy.  I picked up the mandolin I hadn’t played in two years.  Strumming and singing has brought me a lot of joy.  

Then I learned how to watercolor during quarantine.  A YouTube video auto-played one day with a watercolor tutorial.  I grabbed my kids’ watercolor set and started painting.  I like how watercolor is about luck and improvising–letting go of control. I took 2 online courses and bought better paints.  My plan is to watercolor at the end of the day to destress.  

My other new joy is roller skating!  I saw some TikTok videos of people skating and my daughter had been asking for some, so the whole family got skates!  It’s a great way to get out of the house, and I feel free and joyful when I’m skating.

What about you?  What have you noticed about yourself during this time?  What do you miss?  What new joys have you found?  I want you to write me a letter and help me get to know you.  Until we can meet face to face, and I can give you a hug or a high five or a hand shake, this letter will have to suffice.  

With love,

Mrs. Griswold

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