Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Apology to My Former Students and their Parents

Dear former middle school students (and their parents),

It's high time that I try to make things right with you all. There are quite a few things I did wrong, and I owe you an apology. Here goes...

I'm so sorry for the crappy busywork I assigned as homework--the word finds, crossword puzzles, "comprehension questions," fill-in-the-blank worksheets, and the like--that took up your time but had very little benefit for learning.

I'm sorry for the too-lengthy problem sets that I gave to everyone, regardless of need or ability.

I'm sorry for the head-scratching poorly-framed instructions on some assignments.

I'm sorry for the lack of context for things I expected students to read.

I'm sorry for the poor teaching I did--hopefully rarely, but I'm sure I did occasionally--and then gave the homework anyway, which meant you had to struggle alone (or together with parents?) on the work I assigned.

I'm sorry that I sometimes assigned things punitively, out of frustration for bad behavior of a few students in class as a way of trying to reassert control in the classroom.

I'm sorry that there were sometimes projects that required far too much parent intervention to actually do the work successfully.

I'm sorry for assigning work over breaks from school, which I didn't do often...but often enough that I need to mention it.

I'm sorry that I didn't always consider the gifts, talents, needs, strengths, and weaknesses of the students in the work I asked you to do.

I'm sorry for generally infringing on family time with low-quality, poorly-designed work that was one-size-fits-few.

I regret the times I wasted your time. I regret the times I caused strife between you. I truly regret the fact that I wasn't always aware of the impact of the things I asked--demanded!--of you outside of school hours.

This apology is probably too little, and too late, but it is honest, and heart-felt, and I hope you can forgive me.


Your teacher, who truly cared about you but was sometimes blind to the effects of his actions

Image by Dave Mulder [CC BY-SA 2.0]


If you are a former student (or a parent of a former student), please know that this is an honest piece of writing from my heart to you.

If you are a fellow-teacher reading this, I hope it might prompt reflection for you on your own homework practices.


  1. Courageous Dave and written on behalf of us all, actually!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Phillip. Glad this resonated with you.