Tonight is Open House -the night where parents come to see how their kids are doing in school after 10 days. If there’s a problem after only 10 days, that’s a problem, but there usually aren’t major problems 10 days in. So I will spend my time reassuring my parents of 10th graders that their kids will adjust and be fine in a higher level lit class and will comfort senior parents who are coming to their last Open House. I will also be serving brownies and coffee because i̶f̶ ̶I̶’̶m̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶s̶c̶h̶o̶o̶l̶ ̶t̶o̶n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶,̶ ̶I̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶s̶u̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶l̶a̶r̶g̶e̶ ̶a̶m̶o̶u̶n̶t̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶c̶h̶o̶c̶o̶l̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶c̶a̶f̶f̶e̶i̶n̶e̶ if you come to my house, you will be fed (with unhealthy but good food).
I am reposting parts of my open letter to parents from a couple of years ago because 1 – we are 10 days into school and I’m exhausted and 2 – when I went to write what I wanted to tell parents, it was pretty much the same as before. Even though this is a repost, this is still heartfelt and true but probably a little too snarky to say at Open House.
Dear Parents of Students,
I am so excited to be your child’s teacher this year. Teaching is my calling so in a way your student’s presence in my class helps me live a meaningful and fulfilled life. My desire is that your child benefits greatly from this class, but there are a few things you should know.
I make mistakes daily. I have approximately 90 students in a day for which I am responsible for their learning, safety, character development, and I am making split second decisions every day all day. Does this kid really have to go to the bathroom or does he just want to go text his girlfriend? Should I take longer explaining a concept no one gets or do I move on because I know they just don’t want to go deeper in a lesson and get more homework? Did the dog really eat the homework or is someone trying to pull the wool over my eyes? This is a typical five minutes of my day, and I operate in this mode all day, every day. Please understand that I am doing the best I can and believe the best in me.
Unless you’re Mary the mother of Jesus, your kid will make mistakes. Some kids don’t work as hard as they should; others will make mistakes which reflect poor character. I generally avoid giving parenting advice to parents of my students. My blog friends are a different story so here goes. Allow your kid to make mistakes and accept the consequences of his or her mistakes. I am so tired of getting emails from parents of 18-year-olds explaining why they didn’t do their homework or asking them to extend a deadline because their kids were (insert ridiculous excuse here). Learning to deal with mistakes is part of growing up.
I have a life outside of school. Even though many of my students think I pull a George Costanza and sleep at school, I do a lot outside of work. I have a family, attend church, exercise regularly, and just do lots of cool and fun things. I also do mundane things like cook, clean (I just said this to be relatable to my readers), and drive my kid to and from practice, etc. As much as I love your kids, I don’t want to have a parent-teacher conference in the middle of Publix; I just want to buy my salted-caramel ice cream and leave.
Learning is a process. Reading comprehension and writing are skills built over time through practice. I have no magic pill to replace hard work over long periods of time. When I find the worksheet that increases SAT scores by 500 points, I promise not to hold out on you (unless you are standing between me and the salted-caramel ice cream).
I love your kids; I really do! I would not do this job for the paycheck; it’s too emotionally exhausting. Trust me that it’s not the testing that keeps me coming back every year. I come to work every day because I believe in the next generation and want to help prepare them for the future. I will spend my time and money on students and pray for them individually during the year. These things are not burdens for me but rather a joy. I am genuinely concerned for their well-being. Thank you for trusting me to invest in your students!
Happy New School Year!