Teaching Profession Opinion

What a Teacher Wishes for His Own Children This School Year

By David Rockower — September 12, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Dear teachers of my children,

My own kids—both middle schoolers—recently began a new school year. I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships that will begin as your worlds collide. As I kick off my 21st year as a teacher, my heart will be in two places: in room 123, welcoming my own students, and beating alongside my children as they meet you.

I ask of you what I expect of myself as a teacher: Be kind, see the good, and build them up.

I hope that when the classroom door closes, you can take a deep breath and focus on the relationships you will forge—both the teacher-student relationship and the relationship between students and subject matter. This is why we teach, right? To nurture a community of learners who value meaningful relationships.

I realize that, at times, our values will be in line with one another’s, and sometimes they may be at odds. After all, you will likely be required to teach over 100 unique individuals. Some parents and students will sing your praises, while others will inevitably be frustrated with your assignments and some of your decisions.

You’ll need to adhere to curriculum, district policies, individualized education programs, mandated testing, and strict time constraints, all while hoping to find autonomy and agency in a job that—in order to be sustainable—requires it.

As a teacher, I know that juggling all of this can sometimes blind me to what’s most important. Occasionally, I’ll find myself so overwhelmed and frustrated by policy that I temporarily lose sight of why I became a teacher. As a parent, I’ll do my best to demonstrate empathy as you navigate these same waters with my children.

I hope my children are kind to you and to their peers. I’m guessing most days they will be; however, I’m sure there will be times when they roll their eyes, say something they shouldn’t, and test the boundaries.

When they do, I hope you have the patience I sometimes lack—the patience to have a loving, honest conversation about what irked them and how they might handle it differently in the future. I hope these occurrences are few and far between and that for every eye roll you receive 20 smiles and many words of appreciation.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about these relationships that you will build in the classroom. Of course, the strong teacher-student relationship serves as a foundation for learning. When my children trust you and know you are there to support them, they are more likely to work hard, take risks, and enjoy the process.

And once that relationship is established, you pave the way for other relationships: with reading, writing, math, social studies, science, art, music, technology, and world language. In our test-driven world of education, these are the neglected relationships.

As teachers, we know that developing trust and connection with our students is only part of the process. If the students with whom I’ve connected are disengaged with what we’re learning, it hurts. Here are people who trust me, who care about what I have to say, yet I cannot help them find the beauty in language. In this case, my work is not complete.

So, as you get to know my son and daughter—as you begin to witness their beautiful energy, the gaps in their confidence, their divergent interests, and their maddening stubbornness—I hope you will walk beside them, listen closely, and as one of my students said, “Say words that help, not hurt.”

After you’ve developed trust, and after you check in with them about their soccer games, their theater performances, and their weekend adventures, please keep pushing toward inspiration. My daughter needs a second chance with math, my son with reading. If you keep patiently opening doors, I know they will eventually walk through.

Guide them to use these passions—the areas in which they thrive—to engage in meaningful learning experiences. When that healthy student-teacher relationship leads to an awakening of a newfound curiosity, an urgency to know more, a drive to tell a story, well, that’s teacher bliss.

Thanks for everything,

A parent and teacher


Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession When Teachers Strike, Education Becomes More Prevalent in Political Campaigns, Study Finds
Teacher strikes have a profound and often unrecognized role in national politics, a new working paper suggests.
4 min read
Teachers hold a rally outside the Senate Chambers in the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on March 5, 2018. A West Virginia state senator introduced a bill on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, that would allow striking teachers to be fired. The bill also would allow county boards of education to order the pay of an employee to be forfeited for each day of their participation in a strike.
Teachers hold a rally outside the Senate Chambers in the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston on March 5, 2018. A new working paper shows teacher strikes put education issues front and center in political campaigns.
Tyler Evert/AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Advice to New Teachers From a 20-Year Veteran
These seven lessons are especially important during the pandemic, and they will continue to serve you through the rest of your teaching career.
Stephen Guerriero
4 min read
Illustration of hands holding up lightbulbs representing ideas.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Feodora Chiosea/iStock
Teaching Profession Joe and Jill Biden Honor Teachers at Long-Delayed White House Ceremony
The president, with the first lady in attendance, called teachers the "single most consequential people in the world beyond our parents."
4 min read
First lady Jill Biden hugs Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, at a ceremony to honor the 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year, on the South Lawn of the White House Oct. 18.
First lady Jill Biden stands beside Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, at a ceremony to honor the 2020 and 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year at the White House on Monday.
Evan Vucci/AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Wellness Can't Be Just Another Task for Teachers to Do
If we want teachers to remain in the profession, state departments of education, school districts, and parent groups must step up.
Beth Pandolpho
4 min read
Vibrant hand drawn illustration depicting mindfulness concept
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty