Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Parents of Sixth Graders

Dear Parents of Sixth Graders,

As we enter into spring, I know our year is on its downward arc. I have had a lovely year, really, and there are so many of you who are doing a spectacular job raising kind, industrious, respectful, and altogether delightful human beings. It is an honor to know them, and a true pleasure to spend each day in their company.

Some of you, unfortunately, are creating some challenges. While I know that your child's whole persona is not always a result of your parenting, much of it is within your control. So while I am not terribly far from bidding your precious cherubs goodbye, I feel that there are just a few small requests I'd like to make to ensure that our remaining time together is productive, peaceful, and as pleasant as possible.

1. We have a big project coming up on Ancient Greece, which includes a diorama and a written oration. Please do not go to Michael's Crafts, spend $83, and tape the receipt to the project, "just so I know." If you are stupid enough to spend $83 on one foolish school project, then the likelihood of your child earning an A is slim. (Reference any sort of apple/tree metaphors here.) Furthermore, I have been working with your child every day for seven months. I know his work. I also know a Mommy-made diorama in a split second.

2. Please make sure your child bathes. His/her hormones are tap dancing exuberantly throughout every bodily inch, and showering should really happen every day.

3. Please do not email me about your child's bowel movements. Constipation is not an acceptable excuse for why your child might not be focused in Social Studies class. On the same subject, please don't tell me that your child is clearly advanced because he was potty trained at two and a half. That does not necessarily correlate to his performance in 6th grade. Oh, how I wish it could.

4. If you write me an email with multiple misspellings, I will, unfortunately, judge you. Use the freaking spell check. And don't use the word "freaking" in your emails to me, nor any thing resembling "lol" or "jk." Punctuation is also greatly appreciated.

5. If I tell you that your daughter is "too focused on socializing," or "ahead of the developmental curve," that is teacher speak for boy crazy. You've got a problem on your hands. Read her texts if you need to (since you pay for them), pay attention to her email, and please, talk to her about her life. More importantly, listen to her.

6. If you are ultra-conservative and offended by gays or the issue of homosexuality, or the tentative awareness of sexuality in general, get yourself a different 6th grade teacher for your child. Statistically, two students in each of my classes will be gay. I will give them a voice, a haven, and will daily send the message that "it gets better." I'll do the same for every geeky, disenfranchised, still-searching-for-a-tribe awkward bunny. I may not make a difference, but I will try. It might be uncomfortable for everyone, but I'll bust through it anyhow, because it needs to be done.

7. If you write me a note and fail to put the "e" on the end of my name, I will absolutely take it personally.

8. If I offend you, and you offer, as retaliation, to "trash my name" to your friends and neighbors, my response will be... "Bring it." I am not afraid of the likes of you. If I don't like you, chances are your friends and neighbors probably don't like you either.

9. I try very hard to find reasons to praise your child, as often as possible. When your child is wonderful, I look for any opportunity to let you know. As you can see, I generally hear from parents when something is wrong, or when they're mad at me. And little word of pleasantry or kindness makes such a difference. Just send a one-line and tell me your child likes school...that alone will make my day and fill me with positive energy that will shine directly back onto your child.

10. And this one is the most important of all...if you make constant excuses for your child's work ethic or behavior, or if you blame me for his lack of effort and investment, or if you trash me as the "authority figure" in front of your child, you are doing yourself a major disservice. I only have your child until 3:00 each day. You get to keep him all night, and you get to be the one who gets him out of bed in the morning. More importantly, come June, he's aaaaalllll yours. And guess who that "authority figure" will be when your child is 14 and running around after curfew? That would be you. While I will honor and do my best to teach your child for these ten months, the truth is, when she leaves me, I won't think about her very much again. I will your child's name on a piece of paper and light it on fire on the last day of school. (Nothing personal, of course.) And unless we are kindred spirits, or unless there has been some major significant event between us, your child's face will fade into a sea of thousands who have come and gone before. You, Parent, get to keep her. Good luck with that.

Thank you for your consideration. Happy Spring!

Your Child's Teacher

P.S...If your child is a public nose-picker, please do not send in baked goods. I will assume your child has helped make them and they will go into the trash. Sorry.

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