Sunday, August 19, 2012

To the not yet named teacher of my daughter

Dear Teacher X
We hope this letter finds you well. Our emotions are running pretty high these days as we prepare to send our eldest off to first grade.  For us and for her, it is the first time she'll be away from us for a whole day. Every day. She had one week of camp this summer where she was gone from 9-3. We all did well. But it is new for us. So please be patient.

We wanted to begin a dialogue with you early in the year. About everything. Us. You. The partnership we hope to have with you. The community. The strike.

We have no idea of what you think of our little community. We don't know if you live here now or grew up here or if neither case applies. In truth, we don't know what we think of our little community. On great days, we see it as an amazing place to raise our children. We have some great neighbors and it is incredibly safe. We have achieved the American dream that so few others have. On other days, we wish for more tolerance. And a stronger commitment to school.

You most likely are facing budget shortfalls and inadequate resources. And I can't fathom why we don't have the resources for you. That must be ridiculously frustrating and infuriating. And then to have the strike hanging over you like a cloud? September most likely is rolling toward you like a MAC truck.

But here is the thing, can we work together to make this happen? To really make it happen? To encourage growth- social and academic? To create a community of learners in the classroom? Who really strive for knowledge and see the world as a place of mystery?  That is what we have tried for 6 years to create. A sense of wonder in all of life's ways. Ants are to be explored. Caterpillars too. Friends need to be made. Books and stories and creative art and music? All of that helps us to emote, to express ourselves, to feel connected to each other and to powerful ideas.

You most likely know this. And we realize we are preaching to the choir. But we worry that others in our community won't demand this vision for the class. We aren't interested in worksheets. Or videos. Or efforts that are only half way there. First graders, if asked to fully participate, will. We believe that kids need to be exposed to many ideas and many different ways of learning. So some kids will learn through video. And that makes sense. But we hope that there is a chance to engage the imagination. To use those muscles too.

Again, we are just emotional. Growing up is hard for us parents. We looked through her pre-school book today as she was trying to convince her younger brother about how much fun pre-school would be. And I got a huge lump in my throat. Our 'pre school' days are behind us. 6 years come and gone. And it is big time now. I know I will laugh at this emotion the day before 12 th grade. But for us? Right now? It is huge.

Last year we had a rough year. People in our community won't support you. They may even boo you. And throw rocks at you. Like they did last year. But we argue that even if they don't know it or believe it, they support you too. We all do. The people throwing rocks may not see it yet but we all need you, our teachers. Our community does and our nation does. We are working to put that grade behind us. To give you a chance. To give the school another chance. We hope you will get to know our daughter. To give our daughter a chance to meet and exceed your expectations. We hope it is a year where as a community of parents, teachers and other advocates, we can put all of the political stuff, the budget stuff and all of the lawn signs away. And focus on the future. Our kids!
We hope to be partners with you this year.

All the best on the start of an amazing year

We know you know this, but our daughter? She is our world. Please take good care of her from 9-3 pm and we'll love her to pieces when she gets home.


M and S

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