I am not afraid to admit it: I am super excited for my kids to go back to school. I love summer and the laziness of it, the break we all get and the time I have to be home with my kids. But after a while, it gets to me and I realize that school is a good thing, a very good thing. When my kids are in school I am more productive during the day and when they get home I am more excited to see them. They get along better when they are in school because they come home wanting to hang out together. There is less computer and TV time, less time for them to argue and get into trouble and fight with one another. The house is cleaner. There is a routine, a schedule to follow and keep us all on track. I love fresh boxes of sharp crayons and empty notebooks waiting to be filled with ideas and stories and doodles. I get excited for Meet Your Teacher Day so I can see how the classrooms are decorated and drink in everything the teachers say about what we can expect for the year to come. I love the anticipation of finding out which friends will be in my boys’ classes and hearing all about their first day when they come home tired, hungry, their fingers itching to play video games.
I was a teacher before my life as Mom. I wasn’t one for very long, but even then the first day of school held something for me that was almost magical. There was the promise of a new year, a new beginning, of being something better than the year before. There was the mystery of who my students would be, what I would discover about them and what I would teach them, if I could teach them. There were always the ones who sat in class and did nothing. The kids who told me they were only in school because they weren’t old enough to drop out yet and, legally, they had to be there. The ones who thought they didn’t need school, didn’t need my class to get to where they wanted to be. They had their minds made up and there was nothing I could do to change it. I tried, but at the end of the day they still handed in empty pieces of paper and their grades never came up, never amounted to anything higher than failing. I remember a few of them still. I can still see their faces and I wonder what became of them. One boy, he was a junior in my American Lit class, told me on the last day of school that even though he never did any work he did listen when he was in my class. He told me that he had learned things, that he had never liked poetry before but he finally understood it and it wasn’t as bad as he had once thought.
When I think back to my days as a teacher I get excited for my kids. I know they are going to learn and grow and their teachers are going to do things for them that I can’t. Everyone always says how under appreciated teachers are, how much extra they do but don’t get paid for, how important they are for the future of our kids. So start out this year appreciating your kids’ teachers. Be kind to them, support them. Treat them the way you want them to treat your child. Remember that teachers have lives outside of the classroom and sometimes they have bad days, too. They’re not magicians and they don’t have super powers, so don’t blame them if your kid comes home with a bad grade. Instead, ask them what you can do to help. It's not an easy job, but the good ones sure do make it look that way.