“Letter to Future Student” — end of term assignment

At the start of my teaching career I noticed that each term I would have to start at zero with my student and build — brick-by-brick — a respectful and nourishing culture-of-learning. By the time the term ended, the students were so accomplished in their respectful communications and (in most cases) their overall regard for each others’ differences. The the term would end and the reset button pressed. I would have to start all that culture-of-learning rebuilding all over again.

Eventually, I was inspired to have each cohort of students write a letter to the future in-coming student to teach them about what would happen in my course. Invariably, past students described the culture-of-learning: having an open mind; learning to analyze personal biases; deeply respecting all; etc. The “Letter to Future Students functioned  like an inoculation that quickened the time for the new students to understand and then practice a positive culture-of-learning.

Here is a PDF of the instructions I gave to my law enforcement studies students describing the Letter to Future Students assignment.

Letter to Future Students


Dr. Jessica Motherwell McFarlane is a professional education consultant on gender, anti-oppression and social justice issues and a research associate at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She is also the developer and director of the Life Outside the Box program that uses visual narratives as a way to SEE conflict and injustice from new perspectives. Jessica facilitates groups and schools needing to have complex — and sometimes emotionally painful — conversations. She offers workshops to at-risk children, youth, and adults on: Truth and Reconciliation, transforming bullying situations, and rehearsing best practices for self-care, inclusivity, and kindness.