It is important to me that I share topics with you that I think are relevant. Since this is the BIG gift giving time for parents, it occurs to me that I have been the recipient of a variety of humorous and many wonderful gifts as a teacher over the years.
While I was outside last week doing my yearly task of cleaning out the garage, I stumbled upon a weathered storage box that was stuffed in the far recesses of the "important papers" shelf. Later in this blog I will be happy to share some of the most poignant ones with you. What occurred to me, however, was the fact that this box was one of the few memory boxes that has survived my almost forty years in the same house. I did not find a box filled with unused gifts, nor did I find a box filled with ribbons and trinkets. I simply found this one. I am sure by now, that you know that these were the little notes that I kept from parents over the years. Many of these notes were written by parents who were in no position to offer me more than their support and gratitude in lieu of a purchased gift. Some of the notes were attached to wrapped gifts that I cannot really recall. Some of them were eloquently written on beautiful cards. Some were written on pieces of paper tablets from the parent's work. I admit at one time I would have automatically edited some of the grammar or spelling, but that did not cross my mind this time. I was simply taking a mental tour of years in which I was appreciated and thanked for doing what I thought was simply my job.
With these thoughts in mind, you will soon understand what the next few paragraphs have to do with this subject.
It has been my belief that children do not have many advocates except for their parents and their teachers. There are those occasions that are far too frequent when parents want to dictate to the teacher what they should do to help their child. I think those thoughts are imperative for communication between parent and child; however, it is when a parent wants to work with the teacher that progress really takes place.
There was one year of my teaching career in which I had seven parents in my class, all of whom were well into their forties, who had been very successful in their own fields of expertise. They had all left their jobs to have just one baby to nurture and love, and to complete them in life. They came to me with varied stories about what I should do to educate their children. They shared one common theme: Each claimed their child was "very gifted and extremely sensitive." While I believe that the term gifted comes in many forms, I do believe that all children have a level of sensitivity that needs to be addressed by the world around them. I was happy to listen carefully and to take voluminous notes, but some of their expectations and wishes did not serve their children, in my opinion. When parents came to me with the purpose of working together for the benefit of their child, the result was almost always positive.
While you might be asking yourself what this has to do with gift giving, I will ask you to think about the gift you give your teachers of your support and your mutual sharing of ideas about your child. If there is a teacher that truly cares for you and your child, give that person the gift of a little handwritten note that will be sure to outlast her career.
In closing for now, I share the following parent letter excerpts with you:
All I ever want in life is my child's love and of course her health and happiness. Thank you so much for contributing in such a huge way to the latter. She is having such a wonderful school year. My sincerest gratitude goes out to you for your genuine concern and interest. She admires and respects you so much. Who could possibly ask for more?
Thank you for all the listening, coaching, guiding and wisdom that you share. My child isn't the only one who is growing tremendously. We think of you every time we see him devouring a book, and every time we set another boundary we know we are enabling him to be accountable!
Thank you for what you do everyday. It is a daunting task. Teachers are my favorite heroes, and you are my favorite one! Your heart, your songs and your incredible knowledge and love of children shine through to all who meet you. I have been twice blessed. You take my children by the hand and show them quite literally the magic and beauty of the world.
Okay... so now I ask you. What teacher could possible ask for anything more?