Teaching Video

Teachers, Try This: A Pen Pal Exchange to Improve Student Writing and Build Empathy

By Jaclyn Borowski & Lauren Santucci — March 15, 2024 4:00
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Minnesota teacher Sarah Coffing initially hesitated taking on a pen pal exchange with the neighborhood retirement home, where a group of teachers had created a “Retired Teachers Club.” But now in the second year of the exchange, she’s glad she did.

The monthly letter swap allows students to work on their writing skills while building relationships with people they likely wouldn’t have met otherwise, and to build empathy for their retired pals who sometimes have limitations that make it challenging for them to write.

Here, she explains how it all works, and the benefits she’s seen in her students.

See Also

Jen Koop, a retired elementary special education teacher, sits with her two pen pals in spring 2023.
Jen Koop, a retired elementary special education teacher, sits with her two pen pals in spring 2023.
Courtesy photo
Teaching Profession 'Never Stop Learning’: Inside the Club for Retired Teachers
Madeline Will, February 13, 2024
6 min read

Jaclyn Borowski is the director of photography and videography for Education Week.
Lauren Santucci is a video producer for Education Week.


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