When M was in early elementary school, back-to-school night for parents meant sitting in your child’s classroom and writing a cheerful “letter to your student” while the teacher discussed all the fabulous things they were going to learn during the year. The kids, presumably, were all happy the next morning to see notes from their parents on their desks.
The letter-writing petered out by late elementary school, perhaps because the teachers had more complex content areas to explain, and parents were more focused on listening than on writing. There was no letter-writing in middle school, where parents spent about 20 minutes in each classroom before heading off to the next. There was no letter-writing in the first couple years of high school, where parents were down to 10 minutes per classroom.
So this year, we were surprised to walk into M’s chemistry class, and have the teacher tell us to grab the name-tent that our child had made at the start of the year, then write our child an encouraging note on the card. She explained she’d give these to the kids when they had their first test. It seemed a little weird, but in the context of test-encouragement wasn’t quite as weird, and the teacher had mentioned she has elementary-age kids, so that’s clearly the back-to-school night mindset she was coming from.
We were then even more surprised to walk into M’s precalculus class, and have the teacher just plain ask us to write a letter to our student while she rambled on about sine functions. Hmmm… what’s going on here?
A few days later, M got back his first test in precalculus. He got the highest grade in the class, so the teacher invited him to come up and take a prize from the grab bag. This is what he brought home:
We don’t recognize the character, but it is stamped with both “DC Comics” and “McDonalds.”
M’s teacher in Honors Precalculus is offloading her kids’ Happy Meal toys on high school juniors who are old enough to shave and drive.