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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teacher Turns Heads with 'Handle with Care' Message Sent to Parents

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Teachers are tasked with handling all sorts of life’s issues on a daily basis. Many draw from their own time and resources outside of what their job requires because they care for their students so deeply.

One teacher came up with a special system for helping students who are having off days.

It started several years ago after Rachel Harder, a fourth-grade teacher from Hutchinson, Kansas, attended a trauma conference.

“There was a discussion how police stations across the country have started partnering with schools so that when they have encounters with families in the evenings or on weekends, the police will contact the school — either counselor or administrator — and let them know to handle a student with care since they had encounters with police beforehand,” Harder told Fox News.

“We loved this idea and figured there had to be a way to make this work within our own classroom community.”

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So she wrote a note for parents simply entitled “Handle with Care.”

“If your family is experiencing difficulties at home, I would like to provide additional supports at school,” the message reads.

“I understand that you are not always able to share details and that’s okay. If your child is coming to school after a difficult night, morning or weekend, please text me ‘Handle with Care.’ Nothing else will be said or asked. This will let me know that your child may need extra time, patience, or help during the day.”

After this last year, with all its surprises and difficulties, the message will no doubt help students navigate school once again, with Harder able to “[give] kids the grace we all want after a hard night or morning.”

“We all have challenging mornings — we can’t find shoes, backpacks aren’t packed,” Harder said. “It’s doing for others what we would like done for us when we have days that are hard.

“It’s important for me to give kids a few minutes of extra time or space — and it’s easy to give.”

Harder stressed that the details aren’t necessary and that parents don’t have to explain themselves.

“They can just let me know it was a hard morning,” the teacher said.

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“I don’t need to know details, but parents like that — they know I’m keeping an extra eye on them. … I also usually text back and let them know how the morning is going.”

She added that this sort of problem solving usually happens in the classroom anyway, but the partnership between teachers and parents ensures students have the best chance at success.

“A lot of teachers do this without needing a text from parents,” she said. “We know that kids need time and space and love just by the way they walk in the room. But a heads-up from parents is wonderful if we can get that.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking