The writer, of Papillion, is entering her 11th year of teaching. She is currently an English and drama teacher for Gretna Public Schools. She wrote this as an open letter to parents.
I’m excited for the school year to begin. I worked really hard this summer on lesson plans I know will not only educate your children and prepare them for their futures, they will also excite them and leave them coming back for more. I’ve prepared my classroom in a meaningful, colorful fashion, and I’ve created the perfect desk setup that will allow them to engage with one another while staying involved in my lessons. The beginning of the school year is always something I look forward to.
However, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Just like your children are nervous for their first days, we teachers get butterflies in our bellies, as well. It doesn’t matter if we’ve taught one year or 35 years; the first day always has us a little on edge.
Sure, it’s nerve-wracking to meet 25 to 150 new students, depending on whether we teach elementary or high school. That’s a whole lot of names to memorize, and we teachers want to get each name right so your students feel welcome and known.
Sure, my palms get a bit balmy when I have to introduce myself and stay positive all day long, every single day. We teachers have bad days, too, but we don’t want to transfer those vibes over to our students.
What really makes me nervous, though, is creating these brand-new relationships. I spent the whole previous year getting to know other people’s kids, and we created some pretty powerful relationships. I not only spent the school day with them, I also spent some mornings and afternoons before and after school with them working on both school work and discussing things they couldn’t visit with their friends about. When I was finished spending my time with them during the day, I still thought about them at night: How can I make Sarah understand that lesson? When will Hector come in and get that extra help? What’s going on with Jimmy? Sometimes my own family felt left in the dust because of my dedication to last year’s students. I cared about them. And the class before that. And the class before that. And so on.
But now I will be meeting your children. I will teach them, but my relationship with them will be more than that. When I grade your children’s papers, I will wonder how to better reach them when they’re struggling. When your children tell me about themselves, I will listen to know they’re being heard, unknowingly beginning to care more and more about them. When going home at night, I’ll take their stories, thoughts, words and struggles with me.
I am most teachers. We care about your children, and we spend a whole lot of time with them. Please communicate with us, so we can work together to do what’s best. Please know that we are on your side, and we are so very excited to be spending the next year of our lives engrossed in your children. Please remember that we’ll do our best to love your children while taking care of our own families. Please remember that it’s not always the scores that matter but, instead, your children’s knowledge and growth.
I hope your children are just as excited for the school year as I am.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to donate extra tissue to your children’s classrooms. It’s amazing how many those little boogers go through.