Tuesday, September 3, 2013

please, teachers

I really hope this school year is full of empty pages for my kids to create--blank spaces for them to put their own ideas, rather than copying the ideas out of a book (or off a website).  Not Fill-in-the-Blank blanks, but whole wide open free range space for their minds to explore and grow.  Don't ask my kid to pick A or B or C, please.  Ask them what they think and why and how come.  Make them support their answers with facts as well as feelings, tap into their capacity for both logic and imagination.

Encourage classrooms with chatter AND silence.  The sound of exchange and social beings balanced with quiet moments for reflection and thought.  Please, teachers, don't call on the first kid with their hand raised.  Wait a beat and give the rest of your students a chance to construct their thoughts.  Speed is not a mark of intelligence.  Let them speak, but also, shut them up so they can THINK.

I'm praying for successes to bolster their confidence.  I'm also praying for struggle.  Struggle leads to a work ethic, perseverance, problem-solving, patience.  I hope my kids get more assignments just beyond their grasp so they can feel pride when they knuckle down and tackle something hard.  I hope my kids get less busy work, more challenging work--and ideally challenges that integrate curriculum.  Quit saving science for science class and writing for language arts class, teachers.  Pull it together, because that's really how we learn.  Our whole world is knit together intricately, so quit constantly sectioning it off by subject areas.

I yearn for my kids to face every school day with optimism and excitement like they did this morning.  That means their school needs to stay out of ruts and routines while giving each student a place to shine.  Whether a kid is gifted at singing or solving riddles, I hope each of them gets showcased and praised for what they feel passionate about at some point each term.  And if one kid needs more reading out loud while two others need more visual aides, well, there's no law against using all methods of content delivery and assessment, right?

Make my kids write more and read more.  Balance the in-class screen time with actual hands-on learning.  Hands on a keyboard doesn't always mean a kid is figuring stuff out.  We all know PowerPoint is nothing more than a glorified slide projector, so don't let technology be a crutch or drive what you teach.  Assess them using methods relevant to a wider range of learning styles.  Keep me and the other parents in the loop, too.  Just a few sentences in a weekly parent email would do the trick. It's a small thing--a few minutes of your time, but it will pay off because informed parents can support your work better.

I beg you, keep my kids' curiosity alive.  Don't allow them to view education as boring or routine or a grind.  Sure, it's work and takes effort, but only if it's interesting and meaningful.  Engage them.  It will make everything we do easier--from studying to behaving in class.

This is a partnership, so I'll make sure my tribe gets enough sleep and good things to eat.  I'll withhold perks like TV and games until homework gets done every night and I'll send them back to you punctually with their backpacks organized each day.  I'll check their health, spelling, cleanliness and breath (oh yeah, I know) every morning before they head out.  I'll read the school correspondence, provide you with extra stuff your classroom needs (if and when you ask) and keep expectations high on my end for good grades.  I'll expect my kids to respect you, and if anything comes up that concerns you, I've got your back. 

Best wishes for the year,
Ms. W


  1. Its posted.and re-posted. and forwarded. and YOU ROCK!


  2. AMEN! This whole business of teaching kids the easiest way to pass a Standardized test makes me sad.

  3. Now if we could only convince all parents to have your attitude! XOX

  4. You have just described my daughter's school perfectly. I wish every kid could have a Spectrum education. 12 students to one teacher, all subjects are integrated, there is no test-prep, classrooms are always open, and the kids are expected to learn to balance chatter and reflection, choose their topics of interest, and take their projects as far as they can figure out to go. It's not perfect --although the teaching philosophy is "arts-integrated" the art, drama, and music teachers are weak points. But the classroom teachers bring all that stuff into the classroom and are brilliant. And totally underpaid :-)

  5. This letter should go out to ALL the schools. It is great! And it would be wonderful if the school systems could follow it to a "T". Unfortunately there are individuals who aren't great teachers, or there are great teachers but there isn't a lot of money. YOU doing YOUR part is half the battle. I bet the teachers wish that more parents were like you!

  6. We had good teachers and bad teachers. The good ones stand out in my head...even years later.

  7. Here here.

    Honestly, I can't imagine today's classrooms. Good luck to the children -- and to their parents!


  8. Just another glimpse into what makes you an awesome mom. Your sons are lucky to have you. Their teachers are lucky to have you. The kids you substitute teach are lucky to have you. Get it? The world is better, because of moms like you. I really love this post.


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