Hello everyone. You’ve had a week or more to finally relax for the first time since (literally) last year. School is out; time for a break. Except for those of you (most of you) who continue to work in the school system through the Summer, or take on additional jobs, extra work or tutoring to make a wage sufficient to raise a family.
My children were in grades 6, 4 and 1 this past year. All big kids now; especially the middle school child. And what a wake-up call for Mommy it was.
I recall a dear friend telling me that once they were out of preschool, it was all over; school just wasn’t fun any more. Surprise! — she was right.
Most days, I have no idea what has happened to my children for eight hours of their life. I’m lucky to get the tiniest nugget of information. I can pump them (Who did you sit with at lunch? Did you have any substitutes? How did your test go? What was the best part of your day? What was the worst? ), though it usually yields just the facts, and not the big (or more important, little) picture.
Even if you’ve written a carefully prepared newsletter; a blow-by-blow description of the entire month; I usually get it about two weeks after you sent it home, if at all.
This year, all my children had really amazing teachers; it made my life so much easier.
It is not always the case.
So, I want you to know that I appreciated your hard work. That I noticed that the email reminder you sent us about school activities was prepared and sent over the weekend at 10:00 pm. That you are trying to teach some children who come to school unprepared, unfed, and unloved. That somehow you are to conquer all their personal dramas (and sometimes, their family’s dramas); and not only teach them to the best of your ability, but teach them a laundry list of specific things determined by some person in an office somewhere who possibly has never even met a child under the age of 16.
I want you to know that I think the SOLs are ridiculous; and that if your students don’t all pass, that we parents realize it is not all your doing; that it is not a reliable barometer for you as a teacher.
That I realize so many of these children have no pencils; no paper; no tissues; and that more often than not, you dig into your own pockets to provide these things.
I want you to know that I appreciate your creativity; your patience; that you try to include fun, interesting, hands-on learning activities – even though the system does not reward such activities, and could care less if you went to the trouble.
I especially appreciate when you try to broaden their horizons; instill a love of learning. The system would prefer they be automatons that automatically repeat to you pat, memorized answers. True learning does not necessarily occur in such a system, and I do wish for them to love to learn.
In preschool it was so easy to say a quick thank you – to send a little note; a bag of homemade muffins; some flowers from the yard. To catch a glimpse of the teacher’s face and see whether it had been a good day or a – “Good Lord! Please, please! Take this child AWAY!!!” day. Now, its more complicated; elementary volunteering is pretty easy, and gave me some eye-opening insights into what you had to work with. [Whoa.]
The middle school teachers – they probably couldn’t pick me out of a lineup.
So to all my children’s teachers – and to teachers everywhere – an encouraging hug; a moment of gratitude. These few days that you have time to catch your breath, and review the year – they might leave you feeling unappreciated; unhappy; unfulfilled.
Please; please don’t give up on those children; even when our society gives up on you.