A Letter to the Parents of my Students

Dear Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, Guardian, Foster Mom, Foster Dad, and all those who raise my former, present, and future students,

Thank you

Thank you for entrusting your most valuable possession to my care for six or seven hours a day. Your child is the most important part of your life. In most cases, I will have more contact with your child than you do. It is difficult to relinquish care of your child to the hands of strangers, to know that other adults see more of your child than you are able to. Therefore, I have a huge responsibility to both you and your child.

Here are my promises to meet that responsibility.

I promise

to view your child as you view your child – the most perfect person on the planet. I will look at the boy or girl in front of me and not see what my biases see, but what you as their parent sees. I will find the strengths, the beauty, and the aspects of your child that you love the most – the things that make you laugh, or beam with pride, or that force you to flip out your phone and video tape them.

I promise

to love your child as you do. When you send your child out into the world, your only hope is that he or she finds the love that you have for them. I promise to offer that love. To give hugs, high fives, smiles, and warmth when they need it. To be there with support and guidance just as I would be with my own child.

I promise

to stop blaming you for how your child acts. Children have a mind of their own. Their actions are a result of so many factors that who am I to say that your parenting is the one thing creating their behavior. You may be equally baffled, or impressed, or frustrated, or proud about your child’s behavior. Blame gets us nowhere. Instead,

I promise

to work with you in partnership to help your child succeed. Sometimes you know what works for them, sometimes I will find an approach that works. I will contact you often, not just with phone calls about negative behavior, but with emails and texts and photos showing the wonderful, funny, and amazing moments in your child’s day. I will share with you the struggles and successes I have with your child so that we may share in the joy and the frustration. I will be your ally for your child, not your enemy.

I promise

to stop judging your life choices. Just as blame gets us nowhere, so does judgement. I know that I’ve had minimal choice in the circumstances of my life. You are the same way. Wherever you live, whatever you do to make that living, and however you “choose” to live your life right now has been largely determined by causes outside your control. Just as I am doing the best I can with the situation life has given me, you are doing the same.

I promise to recognize you are doing the best with what you have.

I promise

to view you as a friend, peer, partner, ally, and equal in the very difficult task of raising a child to become a happy and successful member of society. We used to say that “It takes a village to raise a child.” We have lost that community in our current society. Our children are lost, broken, and in need of adults who can work together for their sake, not adults who point fingers and decline to pick up the responsibility before them.

I promise to be your village.

Please

keep trusting me with the care and education of your child. We are failing your children, I know, with our current system. But it is neither the teachers nor the parents that are causing the failure, but the system itself. Please help us trust each other by keeping your child in public education.

Please

fight the system with me. Fight to eliminate discrimination, and segregation, and unequal funding, and standardized testing, and inefficient teaching practices, and inequity in the services provided for our most innocent populations. We can change things if we stop looking at each other as the reason for the failure and start looking up toward the real culprit.

Finally,

We are in a fight for the lives of our children – your child. Once upon a time, teachers and parents fought on the same side of this fight. As in the children’s game, Red Rover, please let me come over to your side. I promise to fight beside you. Thank you for allowing me to do this.

Sincerely, Your Child’s Teacher

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