When I was a classroom teacher (oh so many years ago), one of my favorite things was to have students craft a letter to their future selves. I asked them to share what their favorite memories of ninth grade were and to also share what they hoped to accomplish by the time they were seniors. I asked them to set goals for themselves and share those goals in their letters. I also wrote a letter where I shared my favorite memory of each student in the class. I taped my letter shut and had them add my letter to their envelope. I never read their letters. Those were personal. When my ninth graders became seniors, I gave them all their letters. For those students who had moved, I mailed the letters to them.
For seniors, I had them complete the same process but asked them to focus on their lives four years from now. I asked for their parents’ addresses and mailed the letters to their parents’ address four years later. Students LOVED getting their letters. Some shared with me how excited they were that they had met their goals and laughed at the memories that had been preserved in writing that they had forgotten in time. Other students were shocked at how their path or goals had changed or that they had drifted so far from the person they started out as in high school or before college.
I loved this opportunity to have kids reflect for a few moments on themselves. Even my most challenging students took time and honored this assignment with rapt attention. It is one of the things I miss most about having my own classroom and my own students. You know, good practice would be to write one’s own “letter to self” every four years or so and then open it up to see if dreams had been accomplished or life veered a different way. Either way, the reflection and goal setting are an important part of this writing process for students and adults alike.