Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dearest Teacher,

It is the beginning of the year….at least in the world of school. You have spent your summer away from your classroom but I know from having done this job myself, you couldn’t help sneaking back and working off and on throughout these last wonderful months. You try your best to be ready for the onslaught of students and parents and papers and planning and meetings and crisis and blessed beautiful moments of inspiration, ideas and this wonderful electric thing called “learning”.
As your children walk through your door that very first day of school I ask you to remember that you have our most precious possessions in your hands. Our children leave our homes for your classroom with excitement and anticipation and often a mixture of fear and joyfulness. This fall my first grandchild joined the throngs of children heading to class for the first time. Please be careful with this responsibility.
I trust you to kindle his delight in beginning “school”. His excitement was bubbling over and his smile was bright and shiny as he anticipated that very first day of kindergarten. He believed that school would be a place where he would meet new friends, learn math, learn to read bigger and longer words and have adventures on the playground. Know that you hold the key to his belief in himself as a child who can learn; a child who will discover the mystery of books but also the complexities of social interactions with his classmates, his teachers and the many adults who come in and out of his world. He is only five years old with one foot still in preschool and now a toe in the big “K-12” system. I don’t care that he learns to read this week or that his math skills improve in the next month. I care so very much that the joy and excitement he had the night before that first day of school only grows over the next nine months.
You likely already know these things already but here is what I wish you would do for my precious grandson.

See him every morning when he walks into your classroom with anticipation of a new and exciting day. Tell him something that lets him know that you are so very glad he is in your classroom and part of your learning community. Touch his arm and look into his eyes, “Good morning Thomas! I am so happy to see you today! We have an exciting day ahead and I am so glad you are part of it!”
Remember he is only five. He is new to the world of public education and you are his guide. Be gentle. Employ all your skills to assure that you are using developmentally appropriate practices for early learners. My grandson may have a big vocabulary but he is still a little boy.

Keep it positive. Please have a class management or behavior system in place that is based on gentle supports for good behaviors rather than discipline or punishment. Teach my grandson and his classmates the behaviors they need to be successful in this new world. Give praise and kindness and care while helping them learn to be good friends, students and a member of our bigger community.
Start every day with the belief that you can make a difference in our children’s lives. When you are tired and exhausted and our child pushes your buttons, pulls your strings and causes you to wonder why you are a teacher please take a breath and remember that you are so important to our child. He calls you “Teacher” and, like most five-year olds, thinks that “Teacher” knows everything.  I will help support you and my grandson in every way possible as will his mom and dad and his own little community of people who love him.  Thank you for your work and thank you for showing Thomas you care about him as the little and very special person he is, just like all the other children in all of our schools.

Sincerely yours with great respect,
Thomas's Amma