Friday, August 8, 2014

A Letter to Kim's Grade 34 Teacher

By Kim

Flickr Creative Commons: Nick Amoscato
Note: This post is adapted from one I wrote in 2010. It still applies, sadly.

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 it 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 Sasha’s teachers offer to let her have assignments early so she can keep up during the Nutcracker and spring performance rehearsal seasons. Ashlyn’s teachers appreciate knowing that she will hold a grudge all year if ever punished because she happened to be near someone talking out of turn.

Here is what might be said about me if I were headed into grade 34 this year. 

Dear Teacher:

Kim will be in your grade 34 class this year and I thought you may find it helpful if I told 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, dance camps, 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 complain if you insist she 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

If someone wrote a letter to the teacher about you, what would it say?

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