For the Love of Learning: A Letter of Encouragement to my Students

Thanks to closures from the Coronavirus, school’s going to look very different starting next week. You will manage your classes, interact with your teachers, and complete assignments all through a screen. Whether a tablet, smart phone, or laptop, your portal to learning will be a digital one. But for the love of learning, your work still matters.

Some students (like my eight-year-old son) may be relishing in the idea of “NO SCHOOL!” for awhile--when in reality school is coming. It’s right around the corner.

Others may be bracing for big changes, worried about their papers and friends they've left behind. They aren’t sure how they are going to keep learning and friendships intact.

Maybe some are excited about a change of pace for school.

Then there’s the rebels. Those who would love to see school fade and wink out of existence for good. (Sorry, not a chance!)

But school’s starting up again after Spring Break. Learning can’t and won’t stop. As your teacher I want you to experience long-term flourishing and growth as a person. For me not to try, not to give it my best to help you grow, I would consider it a failure on my part.

So, for the love of learning, here’s some big encouragements for you…

Change is Hard. But it Will be Good for You.

School closures have been especially devastating for my old students. Class of 2020, my heart breaks for you. This tweet really grabbed me this week:

There is absolutely no way for words to allay all fears or sugarcoat the reality. The Coronavirus and its effects on education…just plain stinks.

Students, this corner we are turning is and will be challenging for a while. It will be an awkward and rough take-off at first. But I know how strong and creative you are. You will rise to this challenge.

Like any muscle group that grows from a challenging and consistent workout routine, this season will help you become stronger emotionally and intellectually.

This change, though weird and different, will make you a stronger student and person. It’s going to stretch you to be a little more responsible, self-governed, and autonomous. Like any muscle group that grows from a challenging and consistent workout routine, this season will help you become stronger emotionally and intellectually.

For the Love of Learning, Your Work Still Matters.

This could be an easy time to throw our hands up and wave the white-flag-of-who-cares. We could let the overwhelm of news and the Coronavirus crisis crush us from wanting to move forward.

And yes, our State testing has been cancelled this year (for Florida students at least).

So, does your work matter at this point?

Absolutely. More than ever.

For me, I didn’t get into teaching middle-schoolers for the love of state testing. I became a teacher to make a difference in teens’ lives and for the love of learning.

At this crucial point, you have to ask yourself, What’s my why behind working hard right now? What’s most important to me?

Fight for it...

If you see your work, your learning, your future as something valuable and worth fighting for, then everything you do matters right now.

Remember, state testing only captures a snapshot of your academic growth. Yes, it is high-stakes and is used for school grades, but to be honest, there are so many things about yourself a state test can never measure. Let’s list a few right here that will carry with you for the rest of your life…

  • Work ethic. IQ or intelligence cannot replace your work ethic (your habits of effort over time). I’ve seen “brilliant” people waste away their gifts by simply not trying.
  • Communication. This is considered the #1 desired trait from employers. As we dive into e-learning, you are going to get many opportunities to speak up for yourself, to ask questions, to help others, and to talk with your teachers and peers digitally.
  • Creativity & Innovation. How you tackle assignments will force you and your teachers to get creative. To problem-solve together. Challenges birth innovation. What will you do to help make the world a better place?
  • Character. Read on…

This is a Character Defining Moment.

If cruising along with minimal effort is your mission right now, then I fear you are going to find this season of life more challenging.

As we move into e-learning, you are going to have to embrace a wonderful reality: You are in charge of your own learning. I can’t do it for you. Your parents can’t. Only you can.

Daily Choices...

As you wake up each morning, you will be faced with some BIG choices:

  • Do I go scroll through Tik-Tok vids, or do I scroll through class announcements first?
  • Should I check out that new Fortnite skin or check over my notes first?
  • Do I watch the news and let it stress me out first thing? Or, do I watch my self-care and go for a walk before diving into school work?

Though sometimes you hate school work, diving into it first thing will help your day go more smoothly. Let this quote from Mark Twain encourage you…

If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first."

Look, I’d much rather check my social feeds way before I fold laundry. But, I have to swallow that frog and do the hard things first.

I have found over the years, that procrastination isn’t just being distracted. It’s a perspective and emotional wall. It’s a way of self-sabotaging your progress.

Swallow those frogs each morning and start your school work.

Character Matters Most...

Lastly, you will be tempted not to give your best work. With e-learning and online testing, it creates an easier window for cheating. Though you may feel Google will be your best friend here, resist all temptation for shortcuts! Rely on your notes, your textbook, class videos--anything but Google to shortcut the process!

You may get away with it once. But remember, your character is worth way more than an easy out for one answer.

Always be honest. Give it your best. Still stuck? Reach out to your teacher and your family.

You are Loved.

For most of my students, I know you WILL give this e-learning thing your 100%. I know for many of you and your families it will be challenging and stressful.

Please know that we are walking through this with you. Let me know how I can support you along the way.

Lastly, your work matters. Your character matters. For the love of learning, you got this.


Your teacher

This article was updated on March 8, 2021

Jordan Hopkins

Jordan is a freelance content writer and educator. He is passionate about serving others and amplifying their narratives through quality writing. You can find him hanging with his family, fishing, playing guitar, and grinding the best beans for his morning coffee.