1,001 Back to School Nights

In the next couple of weeks, millions of parents around the world will walk into their children’s classrooms for Back to School Night, sit in their kids’ seats, and open the desks that their children cleaned earlier that day. What parents don’t realize is that just hours before the Back to School Night presentation, the teachers were frantically cleaning their desks, too.

ColoredPencilsFor many teachers, Back to School Night is the most challenging event of the year. Speaking to students is easy. Talking to their parents can be nerve-wracking. To get through their Back to School Night jitters, teachers have their tricks. Some turn out the lights and play a slide show so they don’t have to look at the parents. Others talk till the very last minute so that the moms and dads don’t have time to ask questions. I always find the mom with the biggest smile and stare at her through my entire presentation.

MarkersAs teachers give their Back to School Night presentations, parents listen to the teacher’s expectations and goals for the year. Yes, the moms and dads are interested in homework tips, field trips, and Picture Day photos, but as they sit in their children’s seats they’re thinking about more important things. I can see it on their faces. They are wondering if the man or woman standing in front of them will care for their child. Does he want the best for my son or daughter? Will he love my baby? More than anything else, this is what parents really want to know on Back to School Night. And so, I will tell you.


A Back to School sign at my local store: “Up for School!”

Teachers care deeply. We think about your child as we drive to work and when we’re correcting papers at night. We talk about your children at home and at parties. We worry about them as though they’re our own.

We understand our influence. We realize that more than teaching subjects, we teach us. And we know your child is watching. We also understand that in order to reach and inspire your child we must connect with them. The greater their trust, the more apt they are in believing what we’re trying to accomplish. That is why we open up and share our own personal stories about our dogs and our families and our childhoods. That is why we let them see us cry when we are reading Charlotte’s Web.

We are grateful. We know that without parental support, our jobs would be impossible. So thank you moms and dads for practicing those multiplication flash cards and reviewing those spelling words and reading with your children at home. Thank you for making costumes for the school play, sending in birthday cupcakes, and bringing in the dog for Show and Tell. And thank you for coming to your child’s Back to School Night this year. We notice that you came. And please, when you’re there, remember to smile really big. It helps.

4 thoughts on “1,001 Back to School Nights

  1. Been reading your blog, which helps me relax after the kids go to sleep. I feel it is a blog I would write but I no longer work at a school! (Yes I am a good person too, grin) Maybe I worry relatively more than other parents as my kids are quatrolingual and ending up not speaking any of them properly is always one of my biggest concern. Is Back to School Night American thing? Our little ones go to British school and don’t have such a formal thing, tho we did have an event for all parents to meet up at school. Keep writing!

  2. It was so good to read that some teachers are care for children. I’m hungarian and I study law at Budapest’s best university, so I had to learn hard in high school to achive my goals. Unfortunately, my teachers weren’t so helpful… Although I went to one of the best high schools of Budapest, I’ve never felt, that a teacher would be really interested in helping me… ( Maybe only one, my german language teacher) They absolutely weren’t nice, there were classes that were horrible to go to… They didn’t care if I understand the lesson, so I had to find someone, who can explain me for example math. Anyway, I’m glad that there are good teachers like you in Hungary :)

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