May 9, 2012

An Open Letter to all Teachers

I just learned that this week is "Teacher Appreciation Week". Why only a week is my first question, but we'll move past that.

I am the parent of two children, 8th and 11th grade. I love teachers. I love the ways they open/close/expand and shrink my children's minds. I love that they make them think, even if that thought is occasionally negative. I even love when my kids hate their teachers, because it gives them a chance to learn how to deal with difficult folks. It also gives them someone besides their mother to hate. Let's face it, moms get a lot of that while watching their child grow.

Yes, I love school and I love the people who make it happen.

You see, while I never wanted to be one of "those" parents, I am heavily involved in the school day of my children. By "those" parents, I mean the sort that teachers whisper about in the lounges, during their breaks. The parents who micromanage their child and the way the child learns. I've made a concerted effort to hand off my child and trust the teacher. It's worked out well. I have been for a collective 22 years of school. (I figure that based on starting school at age 4 (preschool) for each child, ages 14 and 16). I have met over 100 teachers who were responsible for my offspring for several hours each day.

It baffles me to no end when folks gripe about teachers. I want to hug teachers and tackle them with joy. I am grateful that I am given a reprieve. That is not to imply I'm anything close to an un-involved parent, but rather that I am a partner with the teachers. I love knowing that someone who isn't me is helping open my child's mind. I don't want a mini me who doesn't quite get complicated math formulas, or whose eyes glaze over during chemistry lessons. I want them to learn from many folks who teach in many ways. I want them to spend time with someone who isn't me.

At the end of every school year, especially in elementary school, I've given the teachers a framed poem:

What Do Teachers Make?

by: Author Unknown

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"  He reminded the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers: "Those who Those who can't...teach." 

To corroborate, he said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Susan," he said. "Be honest. What do you make?"  Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could."

“I make kids believe in themselves when no one else will.”

"I make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best." 

"I make parents tremble in fear when I call home" 

"You want to know what I make? 

"I make kids wonder."

"I make them question." 

"I make them criticize."

"I make them apologize and mean it." 

"I make them write." 

"I make them read, read, read." 

"I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, and definitely beautiful over and over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again." 

"I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English."

"I make them understand that if you have a dream, then follow it...and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make or what you do, you pay them no attention."

"You want to know what I make?! I make a difference."

What about you?

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

My colleague, Kris, has issued a challenge. Tell us your thoughts on teachers. Share the link here. Let's really appreciate the folks we trust with our children. 


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