To the parents/guardians/carers of all the children in my new class this academic year,
I am your child’s new teacher. One of them anyway. I will only work three days a week.
But please don’t worry that this means I wont know your child properly. Or that I wont look after them or teach them properly.
Yes, I teach part time. But teaching is really a tiny part of what I actually do. It’s the part I have always known how to do. It’s the part you can be taught at university or whilst trudging the steep learning curve that is your very first year of teaching.
But it’s not the steepest learning curve of my life. That honour goes to motherhood.
And that’s why I will not care for your child ‘part-time’. That’s why I’ll plan lessons on my ‘days off’. That’s why I’ll phone you when I should be having my lunch just to reassure you that your little one has stopped crying after you left her in hysterics this morning. That’s why I’ll send a post-it note home with a praising comment about how your little boy wrote his name for the first time today. That’s why I wont shrug off the fact that your little girl is scared of the school toilets and why I’ll work with you to overcome the obstacle. That’s why I’ll cry with joy and pride when I hear your little boy talk about surviving open heart surgery at five years old.
Because now I understand. Not just what it’s like to be a teacher. But what it’s like to be a mum. And if I’d left my boy in hysterics at the door at 9am, I’d appreciate the phone call at 11.30 to tell me he was actually fine and had stopped crying by 9.15. I’d be overjoyed to get a note about his achievements so that I could share in my little boy’s success at writing his name. If my boys were afraid of something, I would want their teacher to take it seriously.
I have always known a lot of this and I have often practised a lot of this. But now I really understand all of it.
I get it now. Your child is your world. You don’t want them roughly dragged from your arm kicking and screaming in the morning when they arrive at school, even though that’s a quicker solution to their separation anxiety and I’ve got lessons to teach. You want to know that someone will put their arm around them, read them a story and allow them to ‘be’ until they’ve calmed down.
You want to know that someone is investing in your child. Not just because they might get a high mark for their reading. Or because they’re really good at running and will win a few races at Sports Day. But because they love Frozen. Because they have an infectious giggle. Because the way they say ‘basketti’ instead of ‘spaghetti’ is completely endearing. Because they are one of the kindest children in the class. Because they know every word to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’.
Teachers are so pressured to get results. Academic results. But what do we want in this world? There are some very academic people on our planet who use their understanding of maths, or chemistry or technology to prey on others. To make bombs. To commit fraud. Surely the most important things we teach should be compassion, kindness and understanding.
That’s what I want for my children. So that’s what I want for your children. I want to nurture them. I want to teach them the things that can’t be measured by tests: respect for others, fun, excitement, assertiveness.
I’ll teach and care for them as I would my own children.
Every. Single. One of them.
From Mrs H