Every winter when I come back home, I look through my old collections of letters, gifts, projects, art, and any miscellaneous item. I look through them (1) to throw some things away because I bring new things back; (2) to remind me where I come from, how far I have come, and who I am; (3) to continue to move in positive directions.

I recently opened up some notes that my students wrote for me two summers ago when I was a teaching fellow at a non-profit organization. In all honesty, I tried not to think a lot about that summer because it was one of the toughest and most toxic work environment that I have been in. I remember coming home and going to sleep right away because I did not have the physical, mental, and emotional energy to do anything for me.

Now, when I look through those notes, these are the things that I have learned


  1. My students “learned new things”
  2. My students felt like their writing was challenged which allowed them to work on it
  3. My students “appreciate writing more”
  4. My students still need to learn when to use an versus a.
  5. My students learned two ways of organizing their compare and contrast papers
  6. One of my students will “take the knowledge” with them

As a teacher…

  1. I should not assume my students’ first language because one of my students wrote

“Even when you talk Hmong to me, I don’t really understand Hmong, so all this time I didn’t know what you were saying XD.” (Thanks for letting me know afterward).

  1. I still kept my “cool” when my students goofed around or did not want to do their work.
  2. “… that teachers can be fun too”
  3. I was “chill” with them.
  4. I was a “great” teacher.


  1. One of my students apologized for not doing the booyah or homework that I assigned them.
  2. My students want to be there for me too.
  3. They got my back.
  4. They will teach me the “new lingo” (unfortunately, I have a lot to learn).
  5. My students want to see me grow too. One of my students wrote, “Stand up for yourself. You have a voice for a reason.”

As a person…

  1. I have a positive mindset
  2. I smile a lot.
  3. I am enthusiastic
  4. I was “probably the most cool and easy-going person…” (You know, just probably).
  5. That I listened when no one else listened.

Yes, that summer was hard to the point where I sometimes question how I survived it. However, I continue to think about my students from that summer because I have learned so much from them too. So (1) I am not ready to throw these notes away yet; (2) They remind me who I am and who I can be and become. They remind me that I still have a lot to grow professionally, academically, and personally; (3) I want to continue writing. I want to continue to listen to others. I want to continue to share my light.