(Two years ago I wrote this letter. It still feels just as true now as it did then. As I prepare for some significant changes in my career, I wanted to reread and revisit this post as a reminder of what is most important.)
I recently read your letter (http://leadingmotivatedlearners.blogspot.com/2014/11/dear-teacher.html by @TonySinanis ) and I wanted to reach out and respond.
Your child is an incredible person. I know this because we are fortunate to share about 35 hours together each week. I know because each day your child comes to school with their hopes, dreams, and passions. The time I spend with your child is special. While I know it is my responsibility to ensure your child can read, write, and effectively use numbers, my goal matches your hopes for your child.
Your concerns are valid. In the landscape of education I can see many places where educators have digressed along a path that loses sight of what is important about your child. With the value placed on results, it has become easy to view children as a numbers, statistics, and values. Don’t mistake me for not caring about the educational progress of your child, I do care that they do well. It is a large part of my job to ensure that your child learns, and learns as much as possible. That being said, my top priority is that your child leaves my class with a passion for learning.
My desire is that each of the children in my classroom leave at the end of the day with three things in their head.
First, I want them to think, “I can do anything.” The truth is that we are all limited in some ways, but a child should have hopes and dreams that exceed anything that you and I could imagine. They should always feel like the world is just a beginning. Each child in my room is a superhero, a champion, a genius. Each day I hope they leave believing that they can.
Second, I want them to think, “That was awesome.” Not everything we do will be fun for everyone. Just like the kids, I try and sometimes fail. Ultimately I am trying to create an environment where everyone is excited to learn every day. When the day is done, I hope each child in the room leaves with such an excitement from their day that they cannot wait to come back.
Finally, I want them to be exhausted. When your child leaves, I am completely exhausted because I am engaged in learning with the class for the entire day. I hope that the learning activities we have created are so engaging that they give all their effort, not because they should, but because they lose themselves in learning.
If I can accomplish this, the “important” stuff takes care of itself. In saying that, I want to share that my hopes go far beyond this classroom. Here are some of my greatest hopes for your child.
I hope your child never has their passion for learning extinguished. Our goal is to embrace learning, to foster growth, and to fan the sparks of young minds into the flames of tomorrow’s world-changers.
I hope that school becomes a place that is beyond safe; that school becomes instead a place of wonder and opportunity. When I was in school we were exploring some incredible opportunities, from the MIT Robotics Competition to linking up with a group of students in Puerto Rico via Satellite during a Spanish Class (way before Skype.)
I hope that learning doesn’t end when they leave this building. I hope that your child continues to grow and learn about so many more things that I can teach them here. There are so many things in the world to learn about, so many interests that your child could explore, that there is no end to the experiences from which they can learn.
Finally, I hope that I am the worst teacher your child ever has. That may seem strange to you, but I know who I am as an educator, I know what I believe and the positive impact sharing this year with your child will have on both of us. If I am the worst teacher your child has, I know they are going to have an incredible experience with their education.
So I continue to appreciate your concerns and I hope you never fear being “that parent.” I love “that parent” because you care about your child. Just know that I know you are doing your best, and that I will always try to do the same. You say that you trust your child’s teacher, I hope that I have given you a reason to have faith in that trust.
Thank you for sharing your amazing child with me each and every school day.
(As the parent of a child entering Pre-School this fall, I am realizing that I myself am”that parent” already.)