Friday, August 20, 2010

A Letter to Kim's Grade 30 Teacher

By Kim

Before school starts each year I compose a letter to my children’s teachers. I try to imagine myself a stranger to my kids and write down anything that would be helpful for me to know in order to keep them happy and productive for the school year. I’m careful to be honest about their strengths, things I hope they will work on throughout the year, and personality quirks. Invariably, the teachers thank me for letting them know that Sasha holds a grudge if the teacher sits her beside a ‘talker’ and then gets in trouble for telling the kid to be quiet or that if Ashlyn’s tummy hurts the best way to make it stop is to minimize and distract, not call Mommy.

As I wrote this year’s letters I started wondering what might be said about me if I were headed off to grade 30 this year and decided it may make for an interesting writing exercise. Here is the result:

Dear Teacher:

Kim will be in your grade 30 class this year and I thought you may find it helpful if I were to tell you a little about her in order to start the school year off right.

She is a highly motivated student but may become messy or forgetful if bored. She would rather read than watch TV or play video games, and nothing would make her happier than if you would assign a hundred page dissertation on some obscure historical or literary figure. She finds research fun. So fun, in fact, that sometimes she may waste a whole week reading and transcribing a stack of letters from the 1840s instead of staying on task. If at all possible store any math books in another classroom. Too many numbers frighten and overwhelm her. If you replace numbers with x and y she will feign illness the next morning.

As for behavior, Kim will not be disruptive unless the volume of noise in the classroom rises past the point where she can no longer hear herself think. That level is much lower in Kim than in the average middle-aged adult and, once crossed, will soon lead to agitation and possible shouting. In order to prevent this it may be best to have her separated from her peers for part of the day. The room need not be padded – just quiet. Surrounding her with art and allowing her to snack frequently will keep her calm and focused.

It has been a disruptive summer with family vacations, multiple illnesses and a general lack of routine. This has left Kim a bit more distractible than usual and she may have difficulty sitting still. She will not hold a grudge if you tell her she must write 100 words before she can leave her seat. By the end of the day she will likely be on par with the rest of the students as far as word count. Please keep in mind that 100 words on the screen was likely 400 words of actual writing – she’s an extreme perfectionist and a compulsive rewriter. I’m sure with your guidance and patience you can get her relax her standards enough to finish her tasks in a timely manner.

No, she does not have ADHD. It just seems like it sometimes. If all else fails, you have my permission to tie her to her chair. Good luck!

Kim’s mother


  1. Cindy Johnstone20 August, 2010

    Tee hee!!!!

  2. What a great exercise. I might have to try that myself!

  3. Julie - It was great fun.

    Cindy - Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Betty Long21 August, 2010

    Loved the blog. Surprising how much I related to everything you said. Can't believe how many similarities I found:

    I would rather read than watch TV or play games.

    Research is a delightful experience to me. I would rather do that than almost anything. It is exciting—like a treasure hunt.

    Math is a foreign country to me. Don't talk to me about any kind of higher math! I especially dislike x and y's. I got A's in algebra in school and never understood why I would ever need it. Haven't!

    I can blot out noise pretty well, but when it gets overwhelming, I'm either "out of there" or make a very pointed request for some quiet. After Bill retired I had a long adjustment.
    I have had to write this past year with the radio or TV blaring in the office where both computers are. It was not easy.

    I am also a compulsive "rewriter." I need to get it "right." I want every word to count. (Not that it always does as much as I would like it to.)

    Loved the original twist you gave your column. Always a joy to read.

  5. What a great idea! A lot of that sounds all too familiar...

    <>< Katie

  6. Kim, this letter is quite witty and it allows us to see deeper levels of your personality and your functioning. As your cousin, I share some of your quirks and I can vouch that I seem to have ADHD at times. After nine years of teaching as a public school educator, I cant help it!

  7. Kim, this was fun to read and make some comparisons. Thanks ! It would be a good exercise to write a similar letter to our kids at the beginning of the year. Oh, I guess not. They already know what we're like...

  8. As your mom, I really got a kick out of this post. I also found myself strongly relating to it.

  9. I love your humor,Kim!

    I relate with you so much in regard to math! We writers don't seem to like math, do we?

    I was amazed some years ago, when I sent for my Secondary School transcript, to discover that math was my highest grade!

    I was certain I had failed. In fact I dreamed for many years that I had to go back to school and take that class over and re-write my exam! I would wake up in such relief to realize I was not only out working, but in another country!

    I can only attribute the fact that I was given such a high grade in that subject to the fact that my teacher either liked me or wanted to get rid of me!

    I also chuckled about putting you in a room with lots of snacks!

    Food is such a comfort, isn't it!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...