Making Over Third Grade!: A Letter to Parents: What I Wish They Knew
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Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Letter to Parents: What I Wish They Knew
It is that time of year already...time to go back to school. I have read a lot of letters to teachers as we prepare to go back to school. You know the ones, "What I Want My Child's Teacher to Know" that is written to tell teachers to love their kids and jobs, the ones that remind teachers that sometimes there are children that are missing but we should remember that when we are in our classroom, letters about how to treat those with special needs. All kinds of letters to remind us why we should love our jobs, be able to be happy even on those hard days, and no matter what always be selfless. Then there are the letters to lawmakers from teachers reminding them why we are in the business of education, why it shouldn't be considered a business, or what we need to do our jobs correctly. Haven't you ever wondered why there are no letters to parents? Do you think that it is because we are afraid we may get in trouble for writing what we think? That someone may take offense, or interpret it the wrong way?

I have things I want to say to parents. I have things I want them to know
about how I feel about teaching, about their kids, and about them. Don't you? These are the things you can't say at conferences, you sound silly saying at Back to School Night, and by the time of the spring Open House you hope they have gleaned through your actions but have they? Do they all know? Really, know how you feel about your job? About the kids? About them? I do!

I send home weekly newsletters, I do all of the Back to School handouts, and am (I believe) as open and honest as I can be in a 30 min. block during our presentations. But...there are so many words left much more I want them to know. So I'm writing this open letter to parents to explain how I feel. I hope that it resonates with you as well.

Dear Parents,
I am your children's teacher this year. I have worked hard to make the room look warm and inviting. I have spent countless hours thinking about, designing, and creating the look I want to achieve. I have scoured stores and spent countless hours creating things to make it all "just right." But it isn't for you, or for me, it is for your kids. Your kids...our kids...because once you share your children with me, allowing me to spend a year with them, they will always, always, always and forever be in my heart and a part of who I am. I am changed forever by each child who walks through my door as they leave imprints on my heart.

I love your children. I look forward to their stories, I help dry their tears, and I may have to deal with messes made when they are sick. You may see me as someone who is "just the teacher" but I don't see your child as "just the student." Each child that walks through the door of our classroom is loved by someone, is the joy of someones heart, and I will learn to love them too, to notice when they are sad, to take joy in their accomplishments, and to love them for who they are as individuals. I don't compare your children to someone else's, for they are unique and special in their own right and deserve to be treated as such.

There is so much talk in the news today about teachers who don't care, who aren't doing enough, who see your children as just a test score. When we sit down at conferences I will talk to you about how your child is progressing towards mastery of standards, I will talk to you of test scores, but I hope you also know that I know your child is so much more than that. I see your whole child. I love your whole child. And it is for your child, that I come to school each day, that I set aside my own sadness and disappointments; that I come in when I am sick where in other jobs I may have called in and stayed home in bed. It is because I know your children deserve the best education in the world. I know your children can reach for the stars and become anything they set their minds on. I want you to know that your children brighten my life.

But I also want you to know I am tired. I am tired of hearing how bad our education system is. Our education system is you and I working towards your children's future. I am doing all that I can to make that future the best it can be. I am giving your children all the tools I have to ensure that they are able to succeed in our classroom. I worry about your children when they struggle at something. I worry about your children when they are behind grade level expectations, and I am doing all I can in class to ensure that they grow and learn. But...

I need your help. I can't make your children read at night, I can't help your children with homework, or projects, or countless other things. You can though. You can read at home and model what good reading is. You can help with projects, and get excited by what your children are learning. I want you to know that when you are excited about what your children are learning that excitement spills over into our classroom, just as I hope my excitement spills over into your home.

I love my job. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Teaching isn't something I leave in my classroom at the end of the day, it isn't something I forget about during the weeks off in the summer. I am constantly trying to improve my practice. To learn more. To grow as an educator. I do all of this so that your children can have the best teacher possible. They deserve no less.

So please, when you hear people talking about how awful public education has become, remember, you are talking about me, about you, and about our kids. We can change the world one conversation at a time.

Thank you for listening, for caring, and most importantly for allowing me the privilege to share a year in your children's lives and a place in their hearts.

With love,
Your children's teacher

What would you write in your open letter? What would you want parents to know?

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