An Open Letter to Teachers before School Starts

Dear Rabbi and Morah,

Hi and thank you for taking on the challenge of teaching my child this year. I am entrusting you with a precious gift that Hashem gave given my family and I know that you will do your best to help my child grow and reach his/her potential. I know that your classroom will probably be overcrowded this fall and that you have probably only had about 3 days of the entire summer not involved with school or your summer job.

I want you to know that you are appreciated. You have dedicated yourself to a system designed by Yehoshua ben Gamla that was meant to help our community’s children grow in their learning. I know that you feel your job is never done. I know that behind any trip to the grocery store, Target, a walk in the park on Shabbos, or minyan lurks the shadow of an impromptu parent-teacher conference. You have taken on the responsibility of children other than your own and this shows how big your heart really is.

I also want you to realized that my child, like most, is an individual. He might not learn the same as the other kids. She might not be as social as the other children. He might feel that that he is always picked last for sports during recess. She might love to draw. He might be the one that says, “Stop it!”, when the others are picking on someone and you are out of the room. She might give her snacks to another girl, who only brings a sandwich for lunch.

As an educator, I know that you value the positive influence you can have on my child. As a parent, I value the time and effort you put into your work. Many schools stress the importance of a partnership between teachers and parents. If we both have the goal of helping my child become the best person they can be, then we are bound for success.

Neil Harris

7 comments on “An Open Letter to Teachers before School Starts

  1. Here’s a priceless anecdote I read once in a community publication.

    When we talk about our Rebbis and Morahs, we frequently mention one letter of the Hebrew alphabet: Lamed, for Limmud (learning). Too bad we don’t stress a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet: Pay.

  2. “…So I’ll make you a deal, rebbe. I’ll let you know ahead of time when there’s an upheaval in our home, whether the good kind or the not so good kind, so you’ll understand why there might be a change in my kid, and you, rebbe, will let me know if you see the first signs of any concern, either academic or behavioral, instead of suddenly dumping it on me mid-year as a shocking surprise. Deal?”

  3. My youngest son (now 22) was a real pain in his fifth grade year. Bored by the slow pace of the class, he wound up engaging in inappropriate behavior, angering the Rebbi and nearly getting himself kicked out of his yeshiva. The Hanhala of the yeshiva finally (and very reluctantly) agreed to allow him to come back for sixth grade, but only on probation.

    That whole sixth grade year, my husband arranged, with the Rebbi’s permission, to call the Rebbi every single day about our son’s progress. If the Rebbi reported that our son had misbehaved that day, my husband made sure to speak to our son about it (and dole out punishment if necessary).

    That whole year, both parent and Rebbi were in constant communication, and totally in tune about what our youngest son needed: plenty of encouragement, but zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior. It was just what our youngest son needed to shape up and improve.

    Eleven years later, I am still thankful for his wonderful sixth-grade Rebbi, for working with us and helping our son get past his probation. Without that Rebbi, his patience and communication, our son would have been kicked out of his yeshiva. (Not to wind up in public school, but forced to scramble around for another placement, with the stigma of having been kicked out for bad behavior).

  4. This letter is only partially biographical. I attempted to write, what I viewed, as universal concerns.

    Our school has parent orientation, 3 parent/teacher conferences, and phone numbers and email addresses are given out at the beginning of the school year.

    PS- The night after my son completed his first day (last week), we got a call from the Rebbe introducing himself and asking if we had any concerns for the year. Some of what is in the post above was said to him.

  5. Neil,

    What opportunities do your kids’ schools give you to talk with their teachers at the start of the school year?

  6. I love it! I love it!

    Also, maybe we should meet together and learn & daven together, so Hashem will bless us with parnassah and brachot! Then we will surely become strong and capable of educating and supporting the education of these beautiful neshamot!

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