As They Head Back to School, Remember This…

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I’ve spent the last month of my summer “break” attending professional development sessions, studying new curriculum, planning, and making my classroom a warm and welcoming space for the students I will soon meet. Now, here I am, about to report to my 8th year in the classroom, and I’m a nervous wreck. Despite all of the planning, I’ll never be fully prepared for what each year will bring. There will be days that break my heart, and others that bring me unimaginable joy — the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. If this sounds a lot like parenting, it’s because it is. My students become part of my family; after all, for many of us, the hours spent at school are greater than those spent with our own children. My wants, goals, and hopes for them are much like those I have for the ones who share my DNA.

So as you are loading up your child’s backpack and writing special notes for that first day of school lunch, I hope that you will remember this…

Your child is NOT just a number.

This is a tough one for teachers to communicate to parents and students, and no matter how hard we try to let them know it, there always seems to be a grade or a test that suggests otherwise. But our students are not just an ID number on a roll sheet, they are not the GPA on a report card, and they are not the score on the STAAR test. They are a living, breathing, human being — and they MATTER.

Rise to expectations.

I want your child to pass tests and do well, but I also want them to know that more than anything, I just want them to try hard. I want to praise their effort, not necessarily the outcome. When the going gets tough, I want YOUR child to get going…because they are ABLE!

Stand up for what is right.

It may not be the most popular choice, and sometimes they may feel like they’ve made the wrong decision. But I want your child to be confident enough to go down the road less traveled…stick up for someone that can’t stick up for themselves, tell the truth when they know it would be easier to lie, do right by others.

They are loved.

I may set limits, and have high expectations, and procedures for everything {down to how and when to sharpen your pencil}, but I never for a second want them to second guess whether they are loved or respected when in my classroom. A lack of leniency should not translate into a lack of love.

No matter how far they’ve gone down the wrong road, they can always turn back.

Your child may have cheated on a test, gotten into a fight, or said something to me that they probably wouldn’t want you as their mother to hear, or maybe all of the above. But I am an adult, they are a child, and I understand that everyone has a bad day{s}. I will not hold a grudge, I will not treat your child differently than any other student, and I will be their biggest cheerleader no matter what — even if it takes them a little longer to realize that the road they are on is not the best one.

…and for all of you mamas heading back to the classroom, or into the classroom for the very first time, I wish you wisdom, discernment, and a softened heart for every child that walks through your doors. I hope that on the days that you feel like you cannot balance it all, that you find strength. Education is so often such a thankless job, and it is SO difficult to feel like you are being a great mom AND a great teacher, but you are!

Hoping for a wonderful 2014-2015 school year for all Houston-area students and teachers!

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