The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at their blog,
I am so grateful and appreciative to all of the community for your comments to me in these recent two days. Thank you for your concern, your kindness and the sharing of the parts of your lives that have touched some parts of mine.
As I have read and re-read comments, I connected to something in the classroom that I did when I taught that has similarities to my post. I felt a need to TELL my story, to gather support as well as advice. When I taught, my students wrote a letter to me three times a week. These were called letter journals, and were private between each student and me. Three days a week I sat after school and answered each one. The purpose was for the student to share how their lives (school and otherwise) were going, what was working, what was not, who was a good friend, who was bugging them, what they wished would happen, what they wanted from me for support, and so on. Any topic was okay.
I hope I encouraged and I know I talked about the need to be honest and forthright in personal reflection and needs. I believe two things: First, the letter journals written at the end of the school day was a way for students to release some frustrations and to communicate private thoughts that I could attempt to help with. I wasn't the problem-solver really, but the sounding board that sometimes just commented, sometimes offered possible responses to a situation if asked, and sometimes just replied casually like a one-on-one conversation. And second, this was still one more way for students to write their stories. There was no assessment, just response. They could have written with no punctuation if they wished and as long as I could understand it, that was okay. Sometimes students drew little cartoons of a situation to "show" sometime they wanted me to understand. Sometimes they asked personal questions of a 'want to know' kind. Often, they created cool signature greetings, or ways of saying goodbye.
I believe this helped bind our community closer, and if you can find the time, even once a week, I recommend writing letters back and forth with your students. Their letter journals were a special link between us and we valued them.
How-to: They were half-sized spirals, and stayed in a special basket in the classroom. Their names were written on the top of the book pages so they could easily spot them when it was time to write.