school

Do not send me friend requests: The letter I wish I could send parents at the beginning of the school year.

The following is an excerpt from Gabbie Stroud’s new book Dear Parents: Letters from the Teacher – your children, their education and how you can help. Here, she writes a draft letter to parents and caregivers welcoming them to the new year, and you’ll notice she makes a few notes to herself about what she should and shouldn’t include. It’s an unfiltered insight into how teachers really feel at the beginning of the school year, and the things they wish they were allowed to say. All names and places are fictional. 

Dear Parents & Caregivers,

Welcome to a new school year! I am so excited to be teaching Senior Primary, Stage Three (Year 5/6). I am looking forward to meeting your child and helping them reach their full potential.

It is a big year for these students. The Year 5 children will sit NAPLAN in May and the Year 6 children will experience all the highlights of their last year of primary school. My colleague Mrs Fortune will be teaching the other Year 5/6 class and I’m confident we’ll all have a terrific year.

WATCH: Teachers translated. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

A few points for your information:

Equipment & Uniforms

Please ensure every item of clothing and equipment is clearly labelled with your child’s name. This will save ME time and YOU money.

Homework

I will send out an email regarding homework later in the term. For now, homework consists of regular reading. Literacy skills form the foundation of our learning, so time spent reading each day is an excellent habit for your child to develop. Invite your child to read out loud to you, and share conversations about the things you’re reading, too.

Communication

At Halligan Primary, the SkoolSaid app is our main form of communication with parents. The weekly school newsletter will be available each Friday afternoon. On Monday mornings, the app will show reminders for the week ahead. Please read these — otherwise it’s a tedious waste of my Sunday evening. NOTE TO SELF: DELETE THAT SENTENCE.

ADVERTISEMENT

You can also use the SkoolSaid app to:

• report absences

• order uniforms

• order from tuckshop

• read school policies

• pay for school excursions.

You can email me directly with any issues that may arise regarding your child. Please email once and respectfully wait until I reply. Please also understand that I am not available for interviews/questions/lengthy conversations before and after school unless an appointment has been made.

I know that talking to me seems like the most straightforward way of getting your message across, however, I need those precious hours before and after school to do ALL the other stuff and attend a stupid amount of meetings. (NOTE TO SELF: DELETE. PUT SOMETHING UNREMARKABLE LIKE: however, I need those hours before and after school to prepare lessons.)

Please do not message me repeatedly on Messenger, and please do not send me friend requests via Facebook. NOTE TO SELF: DOES THAT REALLY NEED TO BE SAID? DELETE? MAYBE?

Please remember to follow these communication procedures.

Healthy Habits

Our school actively promotes healthy habits! Please ensure your child has a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses (all clearly labelled).

We have a designated ‘Crunch It Up’ snack break where students are encouraged to enjoy a piece of raw fruit or veg. In addition, we have Hydration Breaks scheduled throughout the day where students take a moment to drink some water.

Please consider the quality of the lunch you pack each day. Lunches that include plenty of veggies, protein and some healthy fats are best for optimum learning. (Yes, this last sentence makes me roll my eyes, too — because as well as being a teacher I am a parent and I know what it’s like to be racing out the door of a morning… I’m thinking things like, Did I pack their lunch? not Have I included some oily fish and leafy greens?

However, here at Halligan Primary we have a Healthy Kids Policy stating that we promote nutritious lunches. The policy also suggests that while I do lunch duty I should be talking with students about the quality of food in their lunch box.

Occasionally I do try to do this, but mostly I’m flat-out coaxing student X down from the roof of whatever building he’s chosen to climb up on, while reminding the remaining one hundred and twenty children to sit down, put on hats/sunnies/sunscreen and helping them sort out which of the four different bins their rubbish goes in.) NOTE TO SELF: GO BACK AND DELETE THIS PART IN BRACKETS— JUST MENTION THE POLICY AND PROVIDE A LINK TO IT.

ADVERTISEMENT

Please also remember that we are a NUT-AWARE school— children who have nuts (NOTE TO SELF: OMG— ‘children who have nuts… ’ BAHAHAHAHA. GO BACK AND MAKE THAT SOUND LESS LIKE TESTICLES AND MORE LIKE FOOD), nut spreads or foods that ‘may contain’ nuts are asked to sit in a designated area and wash their hands thoroughly after eating.

We also discourage food being brought in for communal sharing such as to celebrate a child’s birthday (cakes, cupcakes, lollipops, icy poles, chocolate frogs, and so on). We have many students who observe dietary requirements including gluten-free, dairy-free, halal, fructose-free, sugarfree, vegetarian, vegan, paleo and keto.

For this reason, it is safest that we celebrate students’ birthdays simply by singing ‘Happy Birthday’. To be honest, I’m not sure when it became ‘a thing’ to celebrate birthdays at school, anyway. DELETE LAST SENTENCE. MENTAL NOTE: DON’T TRY TO WRITE THESE LETTERS AT 11 p.m.

A daily 15-minute Fitness Session forms part of every student’s day—this is also aligned with our Healthy Kids Policy, which is an attempt to reduce childhood obesity. Because childhood obesity is now my problem, too. DELETE — YOU’RE BECOMING CYNICAL.

This year, we are also incorporating a 10-minute Mindful Meditation session at the start of the school day. Children will be encouraged to become ‘fully present’ and ‘dwell in gratitude’ (these are the new Principal’s words — not mine!! I’ll be dwelling in the gratitude that I’m teaching Year 5/6 and not Kindergarten).

Mindful Meditation is an attempt to improve students’ mental health, build resilience and regulate emotions. It feels like we’re about two yoga oms away from becoming a health retreat — I’m not sure when the health of your child became my priority but… here we are! NOTE TO SELF: DELETE SARCASTIC COMMENTS.

Parent Helpers

If you would like to help in the classroom you must first provide the school with a Volunteer Working With Children Check. Please bring a hard copy of this document to me for filing. Throughout the year, there are several events that you are welcome to attend, including assemblies, concerts, sports carnivals, fundraisers, Open Days, Grandparents’ Day, sports gala days, fetes and more.

In fact, you could spend your entire life here at school and, let me tell you, some parents do. It’s not really necessary to be involved in every single thing. (DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.) Parent help is always needed in the School Garden, Library and tuckshop.

ADVERTISEMENT

I welcome parent helpers in my classroom. This tends to work best when it has been planned for and scheduled. In my experience, it’s most helpful when parents assist with the daily Literacy or Numeracy Blocks. If you have a particular skill or area of interest (e.g. sewing, mechanics, gardening, drawing), you might like to consider running a workshop for our whole class.

This sounds lovely in theory, doesn’t it? But my first thought is, when? When would we fit in these parent-led workshops? Our curriculum already looks like a tub of fruit that spills all down your front when you lift the lid — why would you try to cram more into it? UGH, GO BACK AND DELETE THIS!

Please be aware that parents who wish to help with Literacy are required to attend a two-hour training session.

For those parents who want to come in and:

• spy

• critique my work

• check on their precious little Johnny

• provide one-on-one support for their little Johnny

• observe another child that little Johnny has complained about…

Well, you guys can just stay home. (DELETE.)

Listen to Mamamia’s parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess. In this episode, Gabbie Stroud shares some tips on how to prepare your kids for school. Post continues below.

Special Requirements…

Please email me if your child has any special requirements, such as allergies, existing medical conditions, mental health or wellbeing issues, learning difficulties or phobias. Following receipt of your email, I will try my best to schedule a time to meet with you to discuss these special requirements further.

Please be mindful, though, that I have thirty students in my class this year, and if every parent would like an hour of my time, that’s almost an entire working week I need to ‘create’ outside of classroom hours, preparation time and meetings.

And please don’t suggest we meet on Saturdays or Sundays because:

1. I need those days to pay bills, do the washing, grocery shop, attend appointments for me or my kids (doctors, hair, car service, swimming lessons, tennis comp [kids, not me], birthday parties, fix stuff around the house, mow the lawns)

2. I spend most of Saturday marking student work and most of Sunday planning for the school week

3. I like spending time with my own family

ADVERTISEMENT

4. I enjoy a long healthy walk on weekends (DELETE — YOU LIAR!)

5. I binge-watch entire TV series on the weekends (DELETE — TOO HONEST!)

6. I try to practise mindfulness on the weekends (BAHAHAHAHA — DELETE)

7. I need to rest on the weekends.

THINK MORE ABOUT THAT LAST PARAGRAPH: HOW DO YOU TACTFULLY LET PARENTS KNOW YOU CAN’T BE AVAILABLE 24/7??

A Little Bit About Myself…

I have been teaching for fifteen years, both in Australia and overseas. This is my sixth year at Halligan Primary, and the fifth time I have taught a Senior Primary class. I’ve always loved my teaching, but I’m starting to wonder if this might be my last year. Teaching isn’t what it used to be and I just can’t seem to sleep. (DELETE, DELETE.)

Like you, I’m also a parent. I have two daughters who attend this school: Olivia and Sophie.

INSERT SOME WELL WISHES FOR A GOOD YEAR.

Sincerely,

Gabbie Stroud, Teacher

This is an edited extract from Gabbie Stroud’s book Dear Parents. RRP $32.99

dear-parents

You can purchase Dear Parents here.

Feature image: Supplied.

00:00 / ???