Dear Childless Teacher,
First of all, please accept my gratitude for the countless hours you spend planning lessons, teaching, grading papers and attending meetings.
Secondly, this letter is by no means meant to criticize you for choosing not to have children or being young and not ready to start a family.
With disclaimers communicated, I would like to go on and dispel some of the preconceived notions you may have about me:
- I am not a "helicopter parent!" Believe it or not, I am doing my very best to walk the fine line between "over" and "under" involvement. This task is especially difficult considering the landscape of today's youth culture.
- Although you may teach my child for one hour per day, you do not know him better than I do. You may think that the behavior you see in class is exactly what he displays 24/7. This is a falsehood. My child may be better, worse, or just as he always is in your class. However, chances are you will never see the entirety of my son's character. This is something reserved for parents who obviously spend the most time with their children.
- You may think you are an instant expert on any difficulties my child may have, but chances are you are not. Even if you have studied teenagers in theory, you can't begin to really understand his present developmental stage.
- Please don't dismiss my concerns. I know my child's history and know him better than you ever will. And, no, he is not "just like" a student you had last year. My son is his own person and deserves to be treated with individual respect.
- Be aware that every student has difficulties in some area. Some children have a diagnosis. Some don't. Every student deserves to be seen for his/her strengths and areas of need. Just because a child isn't a behavior problem doesn't mean they don't deserve some attention. I understand that you have as many as 150 students in a day. I don't expect a lot.
- If you pay more attention to the students who are doing well in class, you are making the students who are struggling feel worse.
- You may think that if/when you are a parent you will do things differently. It is easy to judge another person when you have not walked in their shoes. I, myself, was a perfect parent until I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. Moms are human and most of us are doing our very best.
- When you choose to talk down to me, I am insulted. I have many years of experience as a mother and educator. If you are afraid of my experience, please know that I am always eager to work with you, not against you. I will only be dissatisfied when you are not performing up to an acceptable standard. And, please believe that I give plenty of allowances for large class size and the many stresses present in today's secondary education climate.
- Please keep your political opinions to yourself. Classroom teachers are supposed to be objective. My children are offended when they are given a lower grade due a point-of-view you do not share.
- I want us to meet in the middle. Let's join together to do what is best for my child. I will be eternally grateful.
- Finally, I do not believe that my son is perfect, a genius, the best teenager in the world, or God's gift to high school teachers.
Again, thank you so very much for working in what is largely a thankless profession. You are impacting the lives of your students forever. I am grateful for the teaching you provide for my child and all of your students.
A Supportive Parent
"The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education."
~Plutarch 46 A.D. - 120 A.D.