I’m writing this down because if I try to say it to you in person, I’ll cry (I cry very easily) and I’ll mortify myself and mortify you, and my child will never speak to me again for all the mortification, and with all that going on, I won’t get to say what I really want to say.
So, here goes:
I want to say that I hope you know you’ve changed a life – or at least, you’ve changed a life for the duration of this school year. I hope you have some idea of the good you do, of the impact you have. Because all most of us really want for our kids is kindness and fairness. It sounds like a low bar, but some times, some years, it feels utterly unattainable.
And sure, it’s great if they learn to read and write and do long division. It’s fantastic if they learn about social history and science and nature. But realistically, most kids, regardless of what kind of teachers they have, will graduate sixth class able to read and write.
The tougher nut to crack is how they feel about themselves and how they see themselves in the world – are they confident, resilient, happy, and kind? For that, first and foremost, of course they need parents who get things right at least some of the time. But they also need teachers who are kind and fair.
So this is to you, and to all the teachers who are kind and fair:
To the teachers who don’t choose favourites, or are very good at hiding it when they do.
To the teachers who don’t pick on kids or take against particular children.
To the teachers who are firm but don’t shout and roar.
To the teachers who can keep the peace but never resort to humiliating.
To the teachers who can manage a class without creating a state of fear.
To the teachers who discipline but never shame.
To the teachers who have empathy.
To the teachers who get that not all children are the same, and that that’s a good thing.
To the teachers (and happily, there are many, many out there) who understand that children need fun as well as books. That they sometimes make mistakes. That school can be overwhelming. That yard-time might be amazing but it might be hard too. That school day plus too much homework is like an adult workday. That kids need to move and run and climb. To be kids, while they are still kids.
Lastly, to the teachers who understand that honey trumps vinegar, that carrots always beat sticks, and that above all, kindness and fairness win everything. Thank you.