August 30, 2018
This week, I write in an unconventional manner. First, I ask that you read the following letter: Teacher to parents: About THAT Kid (The One Who Hits, Disrupts and Influences YOUR Kid) If you do not read it at this time, my letter may seem confusing. I encourage you to read from the link first.
While the examples in the letter seem to match primarily elementary students, many apply to middle school and high school students as well. I know you’re worried. I am worried too. The worries I carry span the worries of every school principal in the district, the state, and the likely the country.
My worries include students inflicting self-harm through cutting and cyberbullying. I’m worried about my students that just can’t seem to get their math facts memorized. I’m worried about the student that needs reminders to show kindness with their words. I’m worried about the permanent digital footprint my students are creating. I’m worried about the student that roams aimlessly on the playground rejecting offers to play. I’m worried about the online games my students play such as Warcraft and its suspected link to suicide. I worry about every student I have to discipline. I question the “why” behind their actions every single time. A uniform can both protect and hide a great deal.
I can’t share with you the consequences I give students for wrong choices. But I can stand before you and confirm with complete integrity that I will never let wrong choices go without discipline. Ever. However, I will always work to bring restoration and healing. Just as the article states,
“If ever, at any point YOUR child becomes THAT child…I will not share your personal family business with other parents in the school. I will communicate with you frequently, clearly, and kindly. I will make sure there are tissues nearby at all our meetings. I will advocate for your child and family to receive the highest quality of specialist services, and I will cooperate with those professionals to the fullest possible extent. I will make sure your child gets extra love and affection when he or she needs it most. I will be a voice for your child in our school community. I will, no matter what happens, continue to look for, and to find, the good, amazing, special, and wonderful things about YOUR child. I will remind him or her and YOU of those good amazing special wonderful things, over and over again. And when another parent comes to me, with concerns about YOUR child…I will tell them all of this, all over again.”
My door is always open. I will always respond to emails promptly. I will always return phone calls. I will not, however, waiver in my commitment to protecting the privacy of every single child in my building. I know without a shadow of a doubt that at some point THAT child, could be MY child. I know because MY children were, on several occasions, in their 13 years of school THAT child.
At one point on our families’ educational journey, I may or may not have made an illegal turn in the middle of Broadway. I may or may not have marched myself into the office and strongly encouraged my child’s administrator to suspend my child. Said child may or may not have been in 3rd grade at the time.
I know that it is tempting to discuss, to speculate, to assume. But, I caution you it is dangerous and inappropriate to do so. When we participate in that behavior, fiction becomes fact. Students get caught in the crossfire. At some point, the student caught in the middle could be your child.
Honored to Serve You All,