Dear New Teacher,
Sweet, sheltered, naive teacher. I am, unapologetically, going to be your worst nightmare. I never wanted to be, yet here we are. Let me first explain why. On top of the general tears and fears of parents sending their babies off to school I have new world issues to deal with. My other problem? I’ve been there. I’ve taught. I had a year-long student teaching role. I’ve spent years subbing in schools here and in other states. I taught my own 3rd/4th combo class. I KNOW how schools work and I know what you are supposed to be doing.
My child, with whom you are supposed to care for during a large chunk of the day along with his classmates, took more money to conceive than your teaching degree cost. Even at the college you bought, er, earned, your degree from. He and his twin were our rainbow babies, notice that past tense there and that there is only one child enrolled. We’ve lost a lot. A lot of time, energy, money, possibilities, children, emotions, relationships, and more. We hold tight to this child because he is our miracle. Fitting that all this is going through my brain on National Rainbow Baby Day. So it concerns me greatly when you so flippantly reply to my concerns. You stated “those shootings only happen in big cities” when I expressed concern for my child’s placement and asked what your shelter in place procedures were going to be during this year. It worries me that you don’t have any understanding of the massive panic attack I was hit with upon noticing my child’s placement in the classroom. He is the first seat coming in from the door, with his back to the door. Your classroom is the first classroom nearest the K/1st-grade exit door. I don’t want my son, or any other child, with their back to the door that close to an entrance/exit door. I don’t care how distracting it may be. I care that these kids have a chance to live, even if that means running and hiding. I am in tears even typing this out. This is not the world I want for our children. I have great anxiety in a state where 90 plus percent of the population owns two or more firearms. I have huge anxiety over a door that (thanks to my subbing there often) I know is often left open, in a school with no gates and street access. I have an unbelievable amount of anxiety over what if’s.
When you break an anxiety attack down it really does seem to be the overwhelming reaction to too many “what if’s”. My husband knows this and while he himself has never had an anxiety attack, he’s witnessed enough of mine. He grabbed my hand and pointed out that we can see his classroom and said door from our front window. Guess who is moving their desk to said window… that’d be me. Not knowing that the door is often left open he tried to point it out as a quick escape route for our son rather than an easy entrance for a predator.
I have worked in various roles and know a great variety of people. This is great when I have a question and terrible when I hear their experiences. Such as my friend who is a public defender. You know, the person who defends those without the means to provide their own attorney. Or as she put it, those who attorneys will not take because they are so blatantly guilty it is too difficult a task to find a loophole to allow their release. This leads to knowing too much about crimes committed against children, felons possessing (and using) firearms and more than I ever wanted to know about the evils of our society. The worst part is that I know about the things that happen in our town, not some far off distant “big city”. I stated on your “facebook” group release that ‘heads will roll if I see a picture with my child on social media’ and you tried to argue that your “closed” group was a safe place. Sweet new teacher, no social media group is a safe place. School isn’t even a safe place anymore. I specifically moved to a house close enough to see this school so that I wouldn’t have to worry so much about sexual predators, I still do, OBVIOUSLY. But I have legit taken even step possible to shield my child from harm. So for you to argue that your group is “safe” I am over here so proud of myself for not strangling you. You also made a comment that “some studies show it helps increase parent-student communication” and I asked for ONE. I know it’s been close to ten years since I was in a college class on teaching but I want to see just ONE reliable study that shows that. I want to know how you posting pictures of my kid is going to foster a conversation rather than make him more narcissists and checking “how many people liked that?” Just one. Show me ONE. This passion you have for pushing social media in the classroom just tells me that is you’re going to be on your phone on Facebook all damn day.
You never asked about any of this, and why would you? To you, I am a stay-at-home mom with a child going into the public school system who worries too much. I felt the same way when I taught my own first classroom. I distinctly remember thinking, “why are they so worried? I am going to take great care of their children.” I did. They were worried about social/educational reasons, will their child be liked, will they behave, will they learn at the same pace, will they listen, etc. I am lucky to have my background and opportunity to put my child in a great preschool in order to get past those worries early on. Now, I am just concerned about my child’s safety.
You are a first-year teacher with less than a quarter of “student teaching” and a 3-week “long-term” sub position. FYI, three weeks ain’t friggin long-term. You have close to no real experience handling students let alone their parents. So I am TRYING to be patient, I am struggling to help you communicate, and I am working fucking over-time to give you the benefit of the doubt. Please, I beg you, sweet new teacher, take a step forward. Lean in. The best advice I ever received while teaching applies to just about anything. “When pulling drowning students out of the water, go upstream and figure out why they are falling in to begin with. Rather than pulling them out, stop them from falling in.” Find the cause and solve that, rather than dealing with the flood. I am telling you, I just want my child safe, please keep him safe. I will cheer you on along the way because I want to, I know how much it meant to me to have not only fellow teachers but parents in my corner. I just need to know you are going to educate yourself and realize some very big, very real problems with our world. I will thank you every day that you do because I am no longer willing to teach due to these and more issues.
Trying to be in your corner,