Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Letter Series: To The Parents of my Students

A former student stopped by my classroom today and I had the opportunity to laugh with him over his current college experience.  When he left, and I went to sit at my desk, I smiled to myself and thought about what my role in his life is...or was.

I've never really taken the opportunity to thank the parents of my students, but I probably should. 

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Because of you, my job is a privilege.

I don't mean that tongue in cheek at all.  My job really is a privilege.

I have the opportunity to witness some of the best parts of your teenagers' lives.  I get to giggle during homecoming, dance at prom and blink a little faster at graduation.  But those are really only the highlights.

On a daily basis, I laugh with these students.  We laugh over dating mishaps, discussions about pornography (strictly educational, I promise) and weird football nicknames.  We laugh over my inability to be graceful and their inability to filter conversation.  (Wait.  I can't filter conversation either.)  We laugh because of successes, and we manage to laugh over stupid trivia contests that never quite end the way I imagined.

I've been challenged by their views.  You may not believe it, but these students are precocious bunch.  They are concerned about your unemployment and the cost of electricity.  They know that it's necessary to clip coupons and watch the grocery bill.  They get that the current state of the economy doesn't just affect someone somewhere--it affects their families and this community.  They may not be voting or passing laws, but they are certainly interested in war and the United States' involvement in those wars.  They worry about loved ones who are deployed and whether those same loved ones will make it home. 

They are great conversationalists.  We've discussed everything from grammar issues to cancer; rhetorical devices to loss.  They are masters at navigating the classroom requirements and still manage to approach my class with a serious demeanor that leaves space for humor.  And speaking of humor?  They know how to use it.  Mostly appropriately.  And more often than not, defuse tense situations with it. 

They are conscientious, and I love them for it.
They are funny, and I love them for it.
They are attentive and interesting and honest and open to learning.  You are so privileged to have the opportunity to raise them.  I'm just grateful I get to be a player in the game, because those students change who I am and the way I approach others.  I learned to accept, push, discipline, praise and instruct because of your kid.

During a conversation with another grad student, I was faced with this question: "With all of the new requirements for high school students, will you eventually think about leaving your job to avoid the stress?"

I thought for a few seconds and then gave the response that popped into my head the moment the question was out of his mouth.

No.  I can't.  I'm all in.  I expect that from them.  And they should expect it from me. 

But mostly, I feel privileged to enjoy what is likely the best part of you.  I truly hope you recognize the perspicacious group of human beings you have on your hands.  Thanks for sharing them.

1 comment:

Ms. Hays said...

Thank you for this positive perspective on teenagers. I have been considering leaving the profession not only due to the teaching-for-the-tests stressors, but also because of the seemingly ever-present apathy and general lack of caring for anything beyond cell phones many adolescents bring into my classroom. Your letter to parents reminded me not all students are like this and I should refocus my efforts on them instead of the ones choosing to stay disconnected from the experience(s).

Keep 'em coming, Crys.