Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Letter to 9th Grade Parents from Teacher Brian Hartenstein

(The following letter was sent home to my graduating 9th graders.)

Dear Parent,
I want you to know that this letter is not easy to write. I have been your child’s English teacher for a year and a half now. The first half year was wonderful. Your child behaved excellently, was a joy to teach, and showed great potential.
Yet over the last year something has changed. Your child has been incredibly difficult to teach. He/She has been belligerent, rude, apathetical, and disrespectful. He/She does not listen to me. He/She does not follow directions. He/She ridicules me, mocks me, and is openly defiant.
I have not contacted you before because I believed supremely in my ability to connect with students. This is not the first time I have faced a difficult class. Yet now, at the end, I know I need to explain to you how your child has acted.
Your child plays games when I talk, interrupts me, won’t open a book when I ask, is not prepared for class, and constantly acts rudely when I attempt to teach. He/She shows me and our class no respect, they have to be constantly asked to “get their books,” “stop talking,” “turn around and listen,” and “please put away your other subjects.” When I ask your child about their behavior he/she speaks rudely to me, or laughs, or doesn’t care.
I have tried to be a good teacher, consistent, energetic, supportive, cautious, intelligent, modest, kind, strict, and helpful. Yet everything I try fails with your child.
I could have helped your child a lot in the future. I could have been a good friend and mentor to them. I could have written them letters of recommendation, offered help with international schools, assisted in trips abroad, and called potential employers to put in a good word. Yet now there is no relationship. Not once this year has your child apologized, said “Thank you,” or even “Hello,” when I enter the room or “Good-bye” when I leave.
Your child graduates with only disappointment from me.
I am sorry. Forgive me for this letter. Teaching is a very emotional thing for me. I just wanted you to know.

Teacher Brian Hartenstein

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