Thursday, October 4, 2012

An Open Letter From A Teacher To All Parents of Students

**Note: This blog is no secret, and I openly sign my name to it. Many of my students and parents know about it and follow it, to keep up with classroom happenings. This letter is not personal in nature, and simply discusses what I see and believe in general towards parents of school children all over the nation. I love my job, I care deeply about my students, and I work hard to earn and keep the respect of their parents. For a child to be successful in school, it involves a partnership between the school system (mostly teachers and administrators) and parents. I've been wanting to write this letter for a long time, and these are thoughts and ideals I've held for my entire career, they're not related to a single student or parent, but an overall reaction to what I see in the media, what I hear on the national stage, and what I believe**

Dear Parents,

On the first day of school, I did some math with my new students. We took the amount of hours in a year (8760) and subtracted the amount of hours an average child sleeps during a year (we came up with 8 hours per night, for a total of 2920 hours). What we discovered is that the average child is awake for 5840 hours in a year. Of these 5840 hours, children at my school spend 1125 hours in school. I took these two numbers and did a mini-math lesson with the class. What we discovered is that children at my school spend 19% of their waking lives in school during a year.

19%, that's the time that a teacher has with children. Of course, we had to calculate in lunch and recess (40 minutes per day, which adds up to 115 hours per school year), the time that they spend at special classes like PE, Art, and Music (135 hours per school year), and time we spend doing non-classroom related things, like restroom breaks and cleaning up at the end of the day (we came up with 15 minutes per day, which is 43 hours). Take all of this together, and the time I actually have to instruct my students in a given school year is 832 hours.

832 hours. That's exactly 14% of their given waking hours.

Let's think a little more about this. If they're at school for 19% of their waking hours, that means they're with you for the majority of that remaining 81%.

Let's be honest with ourselves here. Your impact on your child far outweighs mine. If your child is a success in life, it's going to be because of you. If they fall short, and things don't go as planned, it's (trust me on this), also going to be on you.

My job as a teacher is to help you out. I want to do this job. I signed up for it knowing that it would be difficult. I went through years of preparation, knowing that this job is a thankless one, full of hard days and a stressful existence. And yes, I am smart enough that I could have majored in something else. I chose this job for a reason, just like the engineer and the doctor chose theirs.

We live in a day and age where more and more children are coming to school unprepared, unmotivated to learn, or have no idea how to act in a public place. These things make my job much more difficult, but I still come to work every day, to teach your child.

You need to know that I want your help. I need your help. If you look at school as just a place to send your child while you go to work, then alright, I'll still do my best, but if you aren't following through on your child's education, how is that my fault? I can't move mountains if you don't care. If you do care, and you do follow through, my job with your child is so easy that I don't really have to do much other than provide a challenge. Just for the record, teachers like the latter kind of parents a lot better (but don't tell anyone, it's kind of a secret).

I'm a pretty good teacher. I know what I'm doing. I knew a lot about your child just a few days into the school year. I know about their reading level, math level, I know how they learn, how they don't learn, and how long they can sit still. By October, I know at what time they're going to ask me to go to the restroom, I know if they come to school when they're a little sick, or if they ask to stay home for any reason. I also know if you're the type of parent who asks your child to tough it out and go to school, or if you're the type of parent that allows your child to stay home for any reason (some teachers might call that parent a pushover, but not me, I'm a nice guy).

There's a few things I wish all parents would do, including:

  • Be consistent, if you make a promise to your child, keep it. If you promise a punishment for wrong doing, follow through.
  • Never let your child have control over you. You're the adult, they need you to be in control and to look out for their best interests.
  • Take their education seriously. This is the primary tool for people who are successful in life. Education is the key to a better life, you can't argue this, it's simply the truth.
  • Want more for your children than you have. Even if you're Bill Gates. Work hard to make sure they get it, but ultimately, demand that they work hard. 
  • Never, EVER, accept anything but their absolute best. Parents who make excuses for their children are the ultimate reason that those children sometimes don't live up to expectations.
Just remember parents, I'm here to help you. I'm not in this job for a power trip, because trust me, there's not a lot of gratification that comes with having control over a classroom full of young people. I know that children make mistakes, they're still learning how to act. It's our job to make sure they grow up the right way. I'll do my best with my 14%, but what will you do with your 81%? 

Finally, don't blame me. If your child is failing, trust me here, it's not my fault. To blame me and my 14% while ignoring yourself and your 81% is ridiculous. So stop making excuses, get up, and let's get this thing right. No child is broken, if they're not living up to what you want for them, fix it now before it really is too late. If your child is a success and is doing great, don't pat me on the back. I didn't do this, you did. I'm just helping your child reach their fullest potential.

Parents, it's time for us to work together. You know where my office is. It's also your child's office. I hope to see you there soon. My door is always open.


Mr. B


  1. I love this! I'm sharing it with my fellow Project Movemos future teachers at Hermosa Heights!

  2. Awesome! I love Hermosa Heights, Project Movemos is a great thing, my last two student teachers both came from the program, and I was highly impressed. Keep up the good work!

  3. That was an AMAZINGLY honest and bold letter. Thank you for sharing Mr. B

  4. That's high praise, thank you Mary. I thought about some of our shared experiences last year with our 5th graders when I wrote this.

  5. as teachers you have said what we feel. Now how do you get the parents who need to read this? the parents that don't need to read it have probably already read it.
    I beleive NO CHILD Left Behind would have worked if there had been a sectin in it like this holding the parents accountble for their 81%


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