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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An Open Letter from a Teacher to the Parents of Primary Schoolers.

I have one and a half days left of the school year at the college I spent the last ten years teaching at.

(*Never end a sentence with a preposition!)

I just saw the grade three class I taught in my first year of teaching at the school, graduating in grade 12. Wow! What a bookend to my ten years of teaching at this school!

It’s a sentimental moment for me and as a parting gift, I want to let the parents in on some truisms…

1. We teachers genuinely like your children. Adore them actually. In point of fact, your children often appear in my dreams. I’ll say to one of them, “Hey Darius! I dreamed I was a chicken last night and you were my egg!”

Darius will eye me suspiciously and reply, “You’re really weird Mrs. Poinker.”

That will be the end of the conversation and Darius will avoid me for a week, but we really do think about your kids all the time. It’s a thing.

2. We spend a lot of our personal money on your kids. Rewards such as stickers, lollies and random prizes, such as $3 tuckshop vouchers, come out of our own pockets. Multiply that by twenty-five and it does add up. At one stage I was spending more on my students than I did on my own five kids. (I only brought up the $3 tuckshop voucher because I just remembered I owe one of the tough kids in the class a voucher and I better pay up tomorrow or I’ll find a bloodied horse torso on my pillow in the school holidays.)

3. We suck up the rewards we receive from your offhand praise.

When you, the parent, make a blasé comment that little Malvolio has begun reading fiction novels because me, the teacher, read the entire seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia, OUT LOUD, in my MOST expressive voice… after morning tea… every single day, my heart sings like the bluebirds encircling Cinderella in the Disney movie. My vision goes all cloudy and I want to hug myself.

4. We will remember your child for the rest of our lives. I taught speech and drama to hundreds of students for fifteen years before starting as a primary teacher, so all up I’ve been teaching for 25 years. I remember every single kid.

5. Teachers are humans and sometimes we have bad days, for example… I’ve just received a phone call advising me of a mammogram recall because of a suspicious shadow, or the pool man just rang to say my filter has self-immolated and it’s going to cost me $1500 minimum for repairs, or my teenage son has just written off his uninsured car and he still owes me $7000 on it but doesn’t have a proper job or any sense of obligation.

Sometimes we may raise our voice a bit louder than normal. Sometimes we might be a bit mean. But the fact is, your kids are going out into a world where their boss is going to have a bad day and kids need to learn that life is about ups and downs and they better get used to it.

6. We will look for your children in years to come. We’ll scan the newspapers to check if any of our protégés have won the Nobel Prize or won a fashion design competition or an Oscar and if they do we’ll nudge our sleepy husbands in the ribs and take full credit when we see it on the telly. We wish success for your kids just as much as you do. Really.

7. The honest thing is, we chose to be teachers. We truly love your children and have their true interests in our hearts. We’ll never forget them and we secretly hope they’ll never forget us.

8. My favourite teacher at school was my French teacher, Dr. Crispin. I loved him because he taught through anecdotes and treated his students with respect. I've always tried to be that sort of teacher.

Who was your favourite teacher and why? I'd love to hear.