A few months ago I read a biography of young adult writer Robert Cormier. He shared that a pivotal moment for him was when a teacher told him "you are a writer". Since reading that, I've tried to remember to be very intentional about the comments I write on my students' papers- not just comments to help them improve their writing, but to help them feel confident about their writing.
As we studied The Giver one of the assignments I gave was an essay explaining what job my students would love to have when they grown up. One of my 7th graders who I've really been able to connect with this year, wrote that she would like to write poems and songs. On the top of her paper I wrote, "You are a poet my dear! I love reading your poems."
At the end of the day today she came into my room, pointed to the top of her paper, said, "Thank you for the note," and gave me a hug.
Yup, this is why I teach!