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Dear Santa ...


What do teachers really want for Christmas? Higher pay? Better benefits? Shorter school days? More attentive students? Columnist Linda Starr thinks she knows. Do you agree?

Dear Santa,
I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to your upcoming trip. We're all so excited that you're finally coming to town! As you get ready to pack your sleigh, I'd like to point out -- in case you've been too busy keeping track of all the good little girls and boys to notice me -- that I have been a very good teacher this year. I instructed, inspired, coaxed, and cajoled my typical students into consistently producing at least grade-level work -- while making allowances for their individual learning styles too. I developed, wrote, and implemented individualized learning plans for each of my special students and adjusted my curriculum for their special needs. I incorporated technology into my curriculum -- and used it to facilitate classroom management and administrative tasks as well. I corrected every one of my student's papers. I met personally with, or spoke on the phone to, the parents and/or guardians of each of my students at least twice -- and I kept them informed of their children's progress between calls and meetings. I faithfully fulfilled every cafeteria duty and bus duty assigned to me -- and took on several duties that weren't mine. I attended all relevant workshops and in-service meetings -- and sat through an untold number of irrelevant ones. I supervised one student teacher, mentored two first-year teachers, and counseled several burned-out teachers. I developed daily lesson plans -- and submitted them to my administrator weekly. I changed my bulletin boards monthly. I did not ever -- in the presence of my students -- shout, pout, or cry.

Linda Starr, a former teacher and the mother of four children, has been an education writer for nearly two decades. Starr is the curriculum and technology editor for Education World.

More StarrPoints

Below, you will find my Christmas list. Please check it twice because, I have to say, Santa, based on the gifts I've found under my desk in previous years, you simply haven't been paying enough attention to my directions. I know you're busy, but a little preplanning can go a long way toward preventing careless and costly mistakes.

First of all, let me point out that I am up to my neck in bubble bath and toilet water. If you're determined to deliver another personal care gift, a relaxing massage is really the way to go. I sure could have used a massage after the weeklong student-teacher wilderness trip you sent me on last year. Really, Santa! Was January the only month with vacancies?

I'm also quite well stocked, thank you, with education standards and related assessment strategies. Enough already! Don't bother either with the box of creative activities and class projects I asked for (but didn't get!) last year. I can't afford to maintain them any more -- unless, of course, they're funded by a grant and closely tied to grade-level standards!

Please, please, please, if you feel you simply must once again bring me an additional student halfway through the school year, make it at least two more. That, at least, will push me over the legal maximum and force my district to hire another highly qualified teacher -- if they can find one, that is. (What's Mrs. Claus doing now, anyway?)

But enough about what I don't want! Here's a list of those special Christmas gifts that will make my job just a little bit easier in the coming year. Santa, please bring me

  • enough up-to-date, error-free textbooks to go around.
  • a state-of-the-art computer for every student. (OK, I'll settle for five working computers of any vintage!)
  • a fully stocked supply closet. (A bottomless stash of pencils, paper, crayons, scissors, craft materials, and copier paper would be a good start!)
  • substitutes for absent "specials."
  • a copier -- filled with paper and toner -- that works all the time.
  • a modest budget for those little extras I now pay for myself.
  • a year without a single "educational innovation."
  • a class Web site (or a technology integration specialist to help me create one).
  • an attractive pair of orthopedic shoes.
  • the attention of reluctant students, the support of difficult parents, the assistance of experienced colleagues, the guidance of knowledgeable administrators, and the respect of the community.

If all that's too much, Santa, I could use a new dress for my retirement party. I'm not sure I can make it through another year.

A Teacher