Dear Parent of a Failing Child …

Here is a secret about struggling children you may not know.

failing child

Dear parent of the failing child in my class,

Though you and I have been on top of it … Though the IEP is in place … And though your child is still coming to school every day—this is to inform you that your child is failing in all subjects.

You should know that this makes me unbelievably sad. Really. Even my husband has requested that I try to let it go. So I can’t imagine how you are feeling about it.

Thank you for not pointing your finger at me and know that I don’t point my finger at you.

It’s not the failure to get good grades that keeps me awake, it’s that this failure might stop your child’s curiosity for new things.

And your child is curious. He’s the one who can hardly contain his excitement when we break routine and go outside to blow bubbles in zero degree weather to see if they freeze.


But he’s also the child whose head is on the desk as I give homework directions. It’d be impossible not to notice the difference between the two.

Here’s a little secret about your failing child that you might not know: It’s the struggling kids that teachers remember the most. Your child is why I chose to teach.

I want to save your child’s dignity. This is the highest common denominator for all human beings: the desire to be treated as something of value.

Let’s agree on a dignified game plan.

  1. We need to look your child in the eye whenever possible. Children who are seen maintain dignity.
  2. We’re going to find things your child likes and invite a discussion about those things. Children whose thoughts are valued have dignity.
  3. We will keep your child informed about all decisions regarding your child’s academic plan. Children who are offered choice feel dignified.
  4. We will remind ourselves that failing school does not indicate a bad person, but one who needs a different support system. Without others, one cannot feel dignity.
  5. We will support each other when we are feeling out of control because it really is your child’s ship to steer. Independence sparks dignity.

Most sincerely,

The Teacher of a Failing Child