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An Open Letter to ‘Mrs Jones’

February 7, 2010

Last week, I received Chipmunk’s link book to discover that his teacher had made some rather sarcastic remarks in response to something I had written.  At first, I was fuming.  I was so, so angry, I could hardly think straight.

Over this weekend, after calming down, I have been thinking about things.  I think maybe she felt got-at because I told the SENCO that the book was not being used properly, and I was worried about it being read.  She does make it very difficult to talk to her, as she does not like to be bothered with things before class, therefore the link book is vital.  However, maybe there is fault on both sides.

I tried to think of a way to fix it.  This is what I came up with:

Dear Mrs Jones,

Firstly, I should like to take this opportunity to thank you and your teaching assistants for everything you have done for Chipmunk so far this year.  He is thriving since starting in Class C, and I am sure this is due in no small part to the structured routine you provide.  He is like a different child than the one from last year, increasing in confidence every day, and I am so grateful for this.

I realise that I may seem over-zealous as far as passing along information is concerned.  Please allow me to offer an explanation.  You may have been made aware by Mr Smith that there have been several mix-ups at the hospital with regard to Chipmunk’s records.  Information has not been communicated between various departments, his records have been muddled with another child’s records, and vital information has been sent to completely the wrong place – and ultimately lost.  While I appreciate that none of this is your – or the school’s – fault, it has served to significantly undermine my confidence in professionals!  I often feel as though I am his only advocate, which I am sure you will appreciate can be daunting in the extreme.  I am still learning as far as Chipmunk’s diagnosis is concerned, and I can only try to do my best for him.

Sometimes I feel as if I am in a constant battle simply to ensure that information is passed along to where it is needed, so that he gets the correct attention.  That is why I was concerned about the link book – not because I was accusing you of not bothering with it, but simply because there is a fair amount going on with Chipmunk at the moment, and I feel it is the easiest and most effective way of keeping you in the loop so that you are not left out of any developments.  Also, when I mentioned the possibility of a visual impairment being behind his tentative reactions, I was most certainly not accusing you of anything!  I was simply clarifying (for myself as much as anybody else) that there was a possible explanation for this, and that this was a good thing because finding an explanation is the first step to finding a solution.  This was not a slight against you in any way, and I apologise if you saw it as such.  Your input as his teacher is so important and that is the only reason I do my utmost to share everything with you.  With so many agencies currently involved with Chipmunk’s care and well-being, it is obviously vital that you are made aware of important developments, and to this end I believe that Mr Smith is attempting to instigate a CAF.

My one and only priority as far as Chipmunk is concerned, is that we are all coming from the same place with regard to his development.  The only way we can do this is by working together and making sure that all information is shared.  I truly would never seek to undermine you or cause offence, and I apologise if this has been the case.  All I want is for Chipmunk to be the best that he can be, and under your care this year he is blossoming.  Thank you.

God Bless,

bubbleboo

I will be delivering this to her on Monday.  I hope that by also posting it here, teachers and parents everywhere will be able to see things from both perspectives.  I do not want my relationship with Mrs Jones to be a war.  Things do not need to be difficult.  I know that there are many teachers who care very much about their pupils, but there are also others who – intentionally or not – make a relationship extremely difficult.  I also know that the same goes for parents.  Maybe we all need to step back, think about the child, and try to move forward together.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2010 16:24

    Fabulous. Explains your point of view, compliments her on positive class structure, sets the stage for future communications.

    From the perspective of both teacher and parent, I applaud you.

    • bubbleboo permalink
      February 8, 2010 16:53

      Thanks so much…I hate being in situations like this one!

  2. Lona permalink
    February 7, 2010 16:27

    I can appreciate your dilemma, Hannah; I felt so much like this with my eldest and her problems. Your points have been articulated clearly and with sincerity and will dispel any negative reactions Mrs. Jones has had. As an aside, you will recall that I have a parent who has been a thorn this year…your letter serves to help me see that something might have gone on in the past with this mom that she hasn’t been able to share with me as her son’s Special Education support teacher.
    Thank you and I expect that your collaboration with Mrs. Jones will improve tremendously!
    Lona

    • bubbleboo permalink
      February 8, 2010 16:54

      Thanks Lona, I appreciate your comments. I think that all of sometimes struggle to see the ‘other’ perspective, particularly when the owner of that perspective is a somewhat difficult person to connect with. I hope I will be more aware in future, and I hope it makes her be more aware of where I am coming from, too.

  3. Gina Watson permalink
    February 7, 2010 16:29

    Another well thought out letter, well written and hopefully dissipating any misunderstanding. You are also clearly saying you appreciate her and maybe you have misunderstood. I hope it is received in the spirit in which it is written with the result that there will be greater understanding and clarity,

  4. Leonard Curtis permalink
    February 7, 2010 16:54

    Well put, Hannah. I wish as a teacher that my parental correspondence was as well written and informative. If she has an issue with you after reading that, then she is an idiot.

    • bubbleboo permalink
      February 8, 2010 16:56

      Aww, thanks Leonard! I gave it to her this morning and haven’t seen her since. Fingers crossed, eh? I really want things to improve.

  5. February 11, 2010 21:24

    Very well written; I’m sure you’ll get positive results from it 🙂

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