Students, Teachers Connect Through Letter Writing

Students, Teachers Connect Through Letter Writing
Shawnee Mission School District

For at least one group of first-graders, a newly acquired skill is helping them to find a way to stay connected with their teacher.

Just before Spring Break, Emily Ruble and her Briarwood students studied letter writing. They practiced writing capital letters, adding commas, addressing envelopes, and signing letters.

When schools were closed in March, Ruble saw a new opportunity for students to learn even more. She wrote handwritten letters to each of her students’ households. She also included an addressed, stamped envelope so students could write back if they wanted.

While Ruble expressed she wants her students to practice letter-writing skills, she emphasized that was far from the point of the activity.  Ruble says she wanted each student to know, despite varying access to technology, students can still connect with trusted individuals.

“I want my students to learn what a good feeling it is to get a letter addressed to you in your mail, and how to give someone else that joy too,” Ruble added. “Mostly, I want them to know that I genuinely want to hear how they are doing, what they’re up to, and how they feel. I’m not necessarily worried about their spelling, handwriting, or punctuation.”

Ruble noted she was also intentional about acknowledging what her students might be feeling. 

“I told my students we would not be coming back to school this year and that it is okay if that seemed weird or made them nervous,” Ruble said. “I told them I was nervous, too.”

Ruble also shared details about her dog, Nipsey, about putting a puzzle together, and encouraged students to write back.

“It worked!” Ruble exclaimed. “I’ve been getting a few letters each day. It has been an amazing project. Kids are so resilient. They are telling me about baking, making forts, about the books they’ve read. They’re having fun, and it makes being apart seem a little bit okay for the moment.”