Monday, June 23, 2014

Thank You for Summer

Dear Parents,

I'm a teacher.  I love my job. In large part, I love it more because I actively chose to be a teacher.  After
several years as a librarian, I switched careers. I knew what I was getting into. I expected the multitude of unpaid hours spent planning, grading, worrying, and, for the most part, those hours don't bother me much.

I work with your children for a few hours each week. Unlike elementary school teachers, I only see your students for one class a day. Still, I come to love each and every one of my 150 students. I spend a lot of time thinking about them, about how to make a lesson matter to them, about how to design a project so that they will enjoy it and learn from it, about how to make my classroom a community, a safe place where students can grow and change.

I know that some of what we do in class actually makes your life harder.  When your children really start to challenge the beliefs you've set in front of them, it can be scary.  I know that, as a thirty-something, I still scare my parents when I push those comfortable boundaries.  Please know that what you taught your children at home - respect for themselves and respect for others, for example - still shines through.  They are learning to think for themselves when it comes to some of the "big" world and personal issues.  Most of them will settle on values quite close to your own, even if right now, they seem to be a bit extreme.

Why am I writing this letter now, in the middle of June? Because I want to stop and thank you. I know that the some parents dread summer vacation, whether because they now have to pay for childcare, or they have to juggle new work schedules to work around the sheer amounts of free time now available to their children. I know that the hours that stretch before your children seem endless and boring and achingly exhausting.

During the school year, my job is not contained from 8-3 five days a week. I often work 60-80 hour weeks and only get paid for 35 of those hours. I will pause a conversation with my family to dart off the email I have to send to the counselor so that he can check in on your child. Or I'll stay up much later than is advisable so that your child can get feedback on a project or essay they probably stayed up later than is advisable to finish. I sacrifice time with my child to make sure that yours get the best possible education.

So, I want to stop and thank you for juggling the craziness of summer so that I can hours upon glorious hours with my child.  It means more than you can possibly imagine that I get to watch him learn how to sing songs, balance on a beam, and swim underwater.

Thank you for negotiating with your supervisor, paying a babysitter, begging grandparents, or whatever all you need to do to make it through the summer.

Really, thank you.

As repayment, I promise to return to the classroom in August full of enthusiasm, energy, and ideas.

Sincerely,

A Teacher

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