I am a teacher. This is a label that I wear with pride. I get up every morning and go into work so that I can give my all to the group of young people in my classroom. I am an educator. I teach children about reading, writing, and math. I also teach them about how to be decent human beings and how to make friends. In addition, I am a shoulder for them to cry on when life is rough. We have real life conversations about topics that are important to them. I am the provider of clothes to children who do not have enough, I am the buyer of lunch for the child who forgot theirs, I am the person who holds the trash can for your child as I walk them to the nurse when they are sick. I am the person who celebrates with your child when he/she reads a word for the first time, and the person who pushes them to do more even when they do not think they are capable. I am a teacher, and that’s kind of a big deal.
As a teacher I would like to take a moment to address the parents/guardians of school children everywhere. I want to have a heart to heart with you about what I as a teacher am willing to do for your child and what I would ask from you in return.
First, I want you to know that I love your child. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I am not a person who gives less than my all, and I want you to know that I will do whatever I need to do to ensure your child’s success. I ask that you do the same. Spend time with your child, read with them, and allow them to tell you about their day. Their greatest desire is to feel heard and to feel as if the adults in their life genuinely care about their existence.
Please know that I will push your child out of their comfort zone. It is not my job to coddle them. I want them to realize their potential. I ask that you also encourage them to try things that they may find difficult. They need to fail occasionally so they can understand how to reassess a situation and tackle it differently the next time. When they succeed, celebrate. When we all celebrate a child’s successes it shows them that a little perseverance and hard work can go a long way. This is how we will, together, raise the future leaders of this country.
I am a very firm believer in the idea that each child blooms in their own time. I hope that you too will be willing to accept this idea with me. Your child may not learn as quickly as others, or may require additional services to complete schoolwork, and there is nothing wrong with this. Just because a child learns differently it does not mean that they are any less of a person. In fact, some of the greatest people are the quirky and unique ones who make us look at life a bit differently. If your child does require a little extra love to access the curriculum, let’s create a plan together. We can figure out what will work for them. Once we are all on the same page I think you’ll be amazed at the progress you will see your child make.
I do not expect perfection. I do not expect your child to come to school each day with perfect hair, with the flashiest project, or with a perfectly portioned lunch. I get that life happens and people are busy. I ask that in return you also give me some leeway. I will sometimes forget to return an e-mail or to send out the permission slip I promised. I can guarantee you that I will beat myself up about this for the rest of the night. Please do not get too upset with me. Let’s just have an understanding that neither one of us is perfect, and we will make mistakes. As long as these mistakes are few and far between I think the year will go just fine.
Finally, I want you to know that I do not take this job lightly. I go home every single night and reanalyze the events from the day. I think about what I could have done better, and I worry that I am not doing enough. I spend my weekends buying items for the classroom, and thinking up new lessons that I know your child will enjoy. Sometimes I even sacrifice time with my family in order to ensure I have everything prepared for your child when he/she gets to school the following day. Most teachers are good people who are just trying to do our best in a job that can be stressful and overwhelming. Please be patient with us and be willing to work with us so we can be sure that we are doing everything we can to help your child grow as a person.
I am a teacher. I tie countless shoes each day, I open more fruit cups than I can count, and I mediate arguments. I sing with your child, teach them how to count, and watch when they write a sentence for the first time. I push them to be their best, celebrate their successes, and comfort them in times of pain. I listen to them when they tell me about their weekend and am moved to tears when I watch them sing in their chorus concerts. I sit in the middle of the hallway with them when they have a breakdown, and fight for what I know is best for them. I give my all for your children. I love them. I am a teacher, and that’s kind of a big deal.