In the spirit of listening and elevating student voices, the 'Dear Teacher' series designates a space to have these voices heard. The purpose of this series is to create a respectful, solution orientated platform for student voices to be amplified into positive change. Students from around the world can write anonymous letters to unnamed teachers giving light to what they wished teachers knew, how they can feel more seen, or how they believe their learning experiences can be improved.
As a student, I would like you to see me; I would like you to hear me. Even when I don’t speak, or don’t ask to be heard, allow me to speak. Bring me out of my comfort zone in an insightful way. Not to shame me or put me on the spot when you sense I’m not paying attention, put me in the spotlight to allow me to shine. Please put on the spotlight to teach something new to others and ask meaningful questions. Please respect and acknowledge that I leave a lot behind when I enter your classroom. If I am not paying attention, it’s not because “I don’t care” or because I am “too cool for school.” It may be because there is a lot happening in my head. Please be mindful that your classroom may be one of my only safe spaces. Try to understand me.
Additionally, please highlight the importance of having a positive mindset, as it can make a significant difference in your students’ lives. To have a positive mindset, one must feel comfortable in their environment, so having a positive and organic atmosphere will indeed facilitate this and make a difference in our ability to take in knowledge and interact. Having a good atmosphere will help but it should not feel forced. As students, we can sense when it is ungenuine. This contributes to our absence and lack of participation. This is not to say that we don’t appreciate your efforts or that we undermine them, but we would like you to know that as much as you stress the importance of being ourselves in your classroom, we would appreciate the same from you.
Lastly, I would also like you to recognize that you are not just our teachers; some students may see you as mentors. You play a role in the most significant and crucial part of our lives, our adolescence. Our experiences with you will help shape the person we become. That being said, I want to connect and relate with my teachers truly. I understand that you may not be able to gravitate towards all individuals as you may not share similar interests, but with those you do, try to form bonds because this will have a positive impact on them and their desire to learn in your class. That being said, we really appreciate your efforts and your desire to learn from us. It is truly empowering.
A student who cares
To submit to the Dear Teacher Series:
Encourage your students to think about what would benefit them in the development of their education, big picture ideas or small everyday practices, and let them write freely. Email the submissions with the subject "Dear Teacher" to [email protected] with your grade and country name only.
Anna is a senior at the International School of Dakar in Senegal. She loves everything sports related, going to the gym, learning about nutrition, dancing, and playing sports such as basketball and volleyball. She also really enjoys cooking and listening to almost every music genre. Her favorite subjects in school are biology, psychology, and English and she hopes to study medicine in the future. Her newest passion is advocacy and DEI work. She loves learning how to use her voice to defend causes and stand up for those cannot. She was once a very shy girl who let people walk all over her. She wants people to know that it is okay to be shy. To be an advocate, you don't always need to speak.
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02/18/2022 - Laila
Anna, I taught you for a short while, but it was an absolute pleasure having you in my class, thank you for writing this heartfelt beautiful letter and just know that you are being seen, heard and acknowledged. Best of luck