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What I Want You to Know: My Letter to Parents This Year


Good morning, all. Here is my parent letter for the 2017 – 2018 school year. As always, feel free to use and/or adapt to fit your needs. DM me @MonteSyrie on Twitter if you want access to the original doc. For those already in the classroom, hope your year is off to a fantastic start. For those whose starts are right around the corner, hope you are as eager as I to get going. Happy Friday.

Do. Reflect. Do better.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Hi, my name is Monte Syrie. I will be your child’s language arts teacher for the 2017 – 2018 school year. I am honored to join him or her in his or her learning journey this year. This year will mark the twenty-second year of my own learning journey, and while I tend to say this every year, I truly believe that this year will be my best year ever. And as I look ahead to my “best year ever,” here are some things I would want you to know.

What I want you to know.

  • I want you to know that I care about your child. She or he is not a number. She or he is not a “seat-filler.” She or he is a person, and I will treat her or him as such. I will strive diligently to get to know her or him as a individual person, so I may best help her or him as an individual learner. I believe all my students come to me at different places socially, emotionally, and academically, and I will meet them wherever they are. So, I will meet your child where she or he is, and from there we will journey forth into our learning experiences for the year.
  • I want you to know that I encourage and value your role as a partner. I have long felt that by the time students reach high school, as a system, we tend to place parents at arm’s length. I think this is unfortunate. I believe that optimal learning requires a shared responsibility among teachers, parents, and students. We have to partner in this, and so with that I offer you an open invitation to be a guest in room 211 this year. Please join us. All I would ask is that you be willing to participate in the day’s activities. Ideally, you would schedule this with me, but an open invite is an open invite. You are welcome. Always.
  • I want you to know that communication between us is important. Just as I presented an open-door invite above, I also offer a direct line of communication assurance. Communication is a must. If there is ever anything that you wish to address with me, please do so. My contact information is below. My preferred form of communication is email. Please never hesitate to contact me.
  • I want you to know that I believe that your child owns her or his learning. I am not passing the buck. I simply believe that if your child is going to make the most of his or her learning opportunities, then he or she must take ownership. Here is what I wrote to him or her in my letter to students. “From the deepest recesses of my teacher being, I believe that this is the key to true learning. You have to own it, for when you own it, you take responsibility for it. I am responsible for joining and aiding you in your journey, and I enthusiastically own that. But you are responsible for your learning, young friend.”
  • I want you to know that I value learning over grading. In the past few years I have made major strides in providing an approach to that places greater emphasis on learning, not grading. As such, your child will find himself or herself in a feedback rich environment, which has been made more possible with my stepping away from traditional grading practices. Please carefully read the attached documents explaining my grading policies. And, as offered above, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.
  • I want you to know that I understand the strain that homework can place on you and your child. It is not my goal to burden your child or your family with a heavy workload outside of school. In most instances, your child will have time to do our work in class, where I am available for feedback–the ideal situation. So, consequently, he or she will not have “homework” in the traditional sense. Instead, my “homework” for the year will be asking your child for at least 30 minutes of reading each night. That is my homework for the year. I would like you to partner with me by encouraging your child to complete this homework. 7 days a week. 30 minutes a day.
  • I want you to know my approach to life and teaching: Do. Reflect. Do Better. Twenty-two years into my journey, I do not have all the answers. I am just seeking to do better each day, each year. This year is no different. I will make mistakes, and some of my plans will fail miserably. But I expect and accept that because I know I will learn from it each and every time. This is how I approach my own learning. It is how I will ask your child to approach his or her leaning.

These are the things I would want you to know as we set out on our own journey together as the adults in the party. I am keenly aware of the trust that you place in me for your child’s care and education each day when she or he walks into my classroom. I, too, am a parent, and have the same expectations for my own children. And so, please know that I take my role in your child’s journey very seriously, and I will do my best to see him or her safely to our journey’s end. Thank you for joining me this year. I hope it is a “best year ever” for you and your child.


Monte Syrie



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