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Dear Teachers,

dear teacherWe, the parents, have given you an enormous responsibility, entrusting you with our most valuable possession: our children. 

Soon, our kids will be in your care for most of their waking hours. You will watch their successes, failures, and everything in between.

And our kids will be watching you.  They will watch the way you respond to a variety of situations, the way you show your emotions, the way you speak and the way you treat others.  They will probably idolize you, whether you deserve it or not.

So please, this school year, keep us in the loop.  Let us know what you see in our children.  To you, things may be obvious, but to us, at home, things might look different.  Tell us what our child’s strengths and weaknesses are.  Tell us what we should be proud of, and what we should be concerned about.  Tell us what accomplishments to celebrate, and what we can do at home to help you.

We send our young children to you full of excitement, curiosity, and a love of learning.  Ask yourself everyday if you are suppressing those feelings in the name of classroom management, or encouraging them.  Do not allow our children to lose that excitement for learning.

Our older children have started to experience failure, and the way you treat that failure will influence them forever.  Embrace it.  Focus on the process, not the end result.  Praise effort and hard work.  Demonstrate that practice leads to improvement, and offer opportunities to practice constantly.

Our teenagers are looking to you for guidance.  You must show them what it means to be a responsible, dependable adult.  You must show them how to treat others, find their strengths, deal with unpleasant people, and work through a problem from beginning to end.  Remember that the way you treat them has a big influence on how and what they learn from you.

We think our children are special. In fact, they’re one of the most important things in our lives. Treat them that way. Remember that we want what’s best for our children, just like you do.  If you and I don’t agree on what is best, explain your viewpoint, so we can understand your actions.

Take the time to get to know our kids.  Remember that they are each unique, they each learn differently, and it is YOUR job to figure out how they learn.  Do not expect that the same approach will work for every student, and do not accept failure.  Every student can make progress, and that is your responsibility.

Finally, remember why you decided to become a teacher.  Savor those “perfect” moments when your 4th graders don’t realize it’s time for recess because they’re so engrossed writing books, when a child who struggles with long division finally “gets it” and when your dream, cross-curricular unit comes together and inspires a student to write award winning poetry.  Your job is important and I know it is stressful, but it is not without joy.  Cherish those joyful moments and it will make a difference for you and your students.




(former teacher and 1st time mom of a preschooler)

Would you like to comment?

  1. Great letter, Katie! Kind of made me tear up a bit. I sent my "baby" to Preschool today too and my house is awfully quiet today. For the first time in eighteen years, I have no one home to keep me company. It's the end of an era. :( Landon threw a fit this morning and I seriously considered keeping him home with me. But, I had to ask myself... Would I be keeping him home for ME or for HIM??? He's almost 5, so I knew I had to make myself do it no matter how hard it was for me to drag him out from underneath the dining room table TWICE, put him crying into the car, have him cling tightly to my hand on that short walk up the school sidewalk while he tried so hard to be brave, and into a room full of strangers in a huge new world. It's tough. A lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. Teachers have such a HUGE impact. A teacher can make or break a child. Your letter is very well said. Bravo!

  2. What a beautiful letter! I don't have kids yet, so we are far from school days, but I am sure that this will still resonate once I do. I hope your family has a great year.

  3. A very inspiring letter, Katie; however, being a mother of two daughters who are working with and for children in public schools, I believe there should also be a letter to parents who do not have the same regards for their children, and who expect teachers and school staff to take the responsibility of teaching children, while expecting them to accomplish, in the short time children and teens spend with them at school, what parents should be creating within their lives at home. Faculty and staff are already overwhelmed with paperwork, bringing work home, and spending countless dollars from their own incomes. While trying to attend to their professions, they also must deal with either overly anxious parents, or parents who have no regard for the welfare of their children, much less consider the responsibilities of enriching the lives of their children.

  4. Just read this, and will add, as an example, to my comments above, "We have tried to decrease this expense by asking teachers to purchase their own paper....."

    1. I'm 10 steps (actually 12 months!) ahead of you! That was last year's back to school post (guest posted here: http://www.iamjustlu.com/2011/08/housewife-macgyver-teachers-wish-list.html)

      This year, as a parent of a preschooler, my perspective is a bit different.

  5. Thank you for these important words. The best thing about being a teacher is the infinite variety of amazing humans that we interact and learn with--students, colleagues, and parents.

    Each student is somebody's unique pride and joy. And if he or she isn't someone's pride and joy, teachers are needed even more in that student's life.