I remember the first time I met you. I’ve probably had a thousand parents walk through my door, but I remember the moment you first came.
Your little one was shyly standing by your side. You were the grown up, ready to lead the way, but this was still a new place to you. I could tell you felt shy too, much like I would, but you did it anyways. For the little one by your side. You’re a good, brave mom raising a good, brave kid.
I remembered your child’s name right away. It usually takes me less than 10 seconds to store it in my head for safekeeping. After that open house, I went home and made sure your little one’s name stayed with me. I definitely imagined what the year would be like with her in my class, just as I did with all the kids I met that day. When I was a student teacher quite a few years ago, I made flashcards with students’ pictures and names just so I could learn them right away.
You gave your little one a name and I value knowing it. And if it’s hard for me to pronounce, I will practice it until I get it.
I made you fill out a million papers. I’m sorry for that. But thank you for doing it anyways. It helps us provide the best schooling for your little one. I know it can be annoying. You’ve responded to my notes and returned my calls. You’ve come to conferences even when you had to take off of work to be there. Thank you for that.
On that first day of school you brought your little one to me. You trusted me. You brought her everyday after. I know it’s not easy to send your little one off. Thank you for trusting me.
There’s so much I’ll do for your little one. I’ll stay up later than I should and wake up earlier than I ever want. There is a good chance I’ve cried for her too. It usually hits me late at night when I lay my head on my pillow. What more can I do? Those words will never leave a teacher’s mind, and it’s terribly hard not to have all the answers. I’ve worried. I’ve celebrated. I’ve missed them when they’re gone. I’ve spent more money than I’d like to admit on getting rid of lice, sworn I’d never go back to work where I know I caught it, only to know that’s the most foolish thing I could ever say. You know what it’s like. I’ll never not show up. I’ll always be there. Even when my day is surrounded by germs and little fingers up their noses. Your kid is worth it.
It’s a lot like being a mom to twenty extra kids each year. And my heart is so full. Your child has a special place in my heart – in one of the deepest places in my heart that a child that is not my own can fit. I place them there because while she may not be my own child, she is yours. So I will protect and love her like she belongs to me. Because you trust me and I will honor that trust.
If anything gets in the way of your child’s safety or well-being, I go to her in a heartbeat. I will do anything to protect her. I listen to her friend problems because usually I’m the first one she comes to at school. I don’t mind at all. When she’s nervous or scared, especially on those first days of school, I let her hold my hand.
Soon enough I see how quirky and silly she can be. She doesn’t have any problems making them, but just in case, I make sure she has friends and a reason to look forward to coming back to school. Soon she’s holding their hands instead of mine.
While we know the love of a mother is fierce, the love of a teacher fiercely stands behind all the mothers.
Your little one may only be with me for eight hours a day, but she really never leaves. I’ll take my weekends to plan for her. To figure out how to help her read and learn those pesky problem solving skills because she may not learn just like “all the other kids”… and that is O.K. I was that kid when I was younger. Helping your child learn is my passion. It’s personal. It’s an exciting challenge. Over the years, my Pinterest boards have transformed from cute “Kitchen Renovation” boards to board after board of teaching methods designed uniquely for your little one. I’ll never give up on her.
You may not believe me when I say this, but I’ve never forgotten a student of mine. Show me a picture of a child from my class 13 years ago and I’ll tell you their name. As hard as it is to say, your child will become a memory to me and my heart grieves knowing I won’t be able to keep them in my class forever. I can only send her on knowing you are her mother and you will continue to advocate for her. She’s in good hands.
Do you know how hard it is to say goodbye at the end of the year? Sometimes I think teaching is one of the cruelest jobs. To care for so many and then pass them on to someone else. To invest so much and then to always be saying goodbye. This is the time of year when it hits me. I may be exhausted and I may want nothing but to sleep on that first day of summer (just kidding, I’m a mom), but the truth is I’m really not ready to say goodbye.
I know many of you want to give your child’s teacher the perfect gift at the end of the school year. I know you want to compensate us for all our time and energy and money we’ve put into this year with your child. We appreciate it, we really do. And while I love coffee and gift cards and flowers and will always gratefully accept them, there’s something even more meaningful that I want. That I sort of need. Since being your little one’s teacher is such a careful exercise of love and will and time, what I really want is to know it made a difference. I want to know if I helped beyond the test scores. Because the best thing you can give me at the end of the school year is a sigh of relief that all my work mattered. Then I can rest well this summer.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of caring for your child this year. I will miss each and every one of them.
So if you think of it this year, when you’re saying goodbye to your child’s teacher, let them know how they made a difference. Because your little one made a difference to them.