The Care and Maintenance of Teachers (especially at the end of the year)

Dear students (of all ages) —

Please consider these suggestions for the proper maintenance of your student/teacher relationships as we come to the end of the year.

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, separate a teacher from her coffee.  Especially at this time of year.  She is likely NOT sleeping at night, catching up on for pleasure reading that she hasn’t been doing all year, or grading final projects, or wrapping up lesson planning for the year, or spending time with her family.  If possible, supplement her caffeine intake with Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.
  2. When only eight days remain in the school year, it is in your best interest to avoid suddenly becoming interested in catching up on everything you’ve missed for, say, the last three quarters.  Instead, redeem yourself for the quarter, if possible, and do extraordinary work on your final projects.
  3. Your teacher teaches approximately 100 students.  She cannot possibly remember every class you’ve missed, every assignment you didn’t turn in, or your calculated average at a moment’s notice.  So try to advocate for yourself: ask your classmates what assignments are due, check your eSembler, or subscribe to your teacher’s Remind 101 for notice about upcoming deadlines.
  4. Smile at your teacher.  Say, “Good morning.”  Ask her about her weekend.  And be sincere.  Don’t follow these comments with ANY request.
  5. Understand that your teacher is a human being.  She is not perfect.  She might be a little snarky, she might get emotional, she might come across as a little rude, she might have a huge chip on her shoulder.  But she doesn’t hate you.  She doesn’t want you to fail.  In fact, she desperately wants you to succeed, if for no other reason but that you don’t have to take her class again.
  6. Complete your work.  On time.  And turn it in.  Don’t leave it crumpled at the bottom of your book bag.
  7. Listen to your teacher’s directions, the first time.  Try very hard not to ask a question about an assignment that she already answered.  Her patience gets thin when she has to repeat herself.
  8. When in disagreement with a teacher, be kind, respectful, and honest.  That will get you further than any amount of pouting, yelling, eye-rolling, sighing, head-tossing, or other form of attitude.  If a kind attitude doesn’t work, take a deep breath and take your seat.  Wait until after class to try again.  Or send an email.
  9. If your teacher apologizes to you, accept it with grace.  Then return the favor to someone else.
  10. It may seem impossible now, but one day, far in the future, you may look back at these moments, at this teacher, and realize that her persistence, her bullheadedness, and her resolve were actually awesome.  You’ll realize that she actually taught you something, and it probably isn’t about English, math, social studies, or science.  When that happens, find her on Facebook, send her a carrier pigeon, write her a note and tell her so.


Mrs. P, a concerned teacher (in desperate need of a good night’s sleep)


10 thoughts on “The Care and Maintenance of Teachers (especially at the end of the year)

  1. Allison, very good post, I truly hope that it read by students across the land, and taken seriously and without reserve. Teaching is difficult at best, and normally a tremendously difficult job. If teachers and students work together both win. I found this out in college; hopefully your students will find it out a lot sooner. Love Dad

  2. You know only some of your suggestions will be followed by some of your students, if you’re lucky. I guess the one that I hope they follow the most is that they’ll listen to your directions the first time…what a concept! …then follow it up with a LARGE cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts!
    Love, Mom!

  3. Lots of good advice here–I especially like the last one because I think many of your kids will eventually realize that you and other teachers really had their best interests at heart. I suspect you will be the recipient of lots of “I get it now” communications in the future.

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