something every high school teacher needs to read

Dear high school teachers of the world,

Please take the next 5 or so minutes to rethink what your job entails.

Your job entails violently important responsibility.

You are entrusted with the most precious treasure that the world can offer:

the youth population.

And you may just be obliterating every last sliver of potential that they possess.

Shocked? Flummoxed? Flabbergasted?

Take it from a high schooler’s perspective:

A teacher drones on in a mind-numbing, monotonous tone, with a trite, mundane powerpoint to supplement her lackluster lesson.

There you have it – the perfect recipe for destroying potential.

Teachers possess the ultimate power to change students’ lives. Believe me when I say this. The manner in which you pass on your knowledge could alter the course of your students’ futures. Do not abuse this power.

While we may seem zoned out, angsty, and thankless, just know that we only reciprocate your attitude. If you truly love your subject (and I am assuming you do, because you decided to spend a lifetime teaching it to others),  do not be afraid to exhibit that passion when you pass it on to your students. That being said, being a good teacher is not only demonstrated in the manner in which you teach your subject, but it is also displayed in the way you treat your students.

High school students are going through hell. Every single one of the 720 days requires willpower beyond belief. We wake up, still hungover from the overdose of homework from last night, trudge to school, sit through slow lessons, rush to work/volunteering/sports practice/tutoring/clubs/anything else to slap onto our college applications (which we worry about on a daily basis), go home, breathe for a split second, and then proceed to complete the excessive amounts of homework that you assigned (over half of which does not even come close to helping us comprehend the material/understand the subject, which, the last time I checked, violates the point of homework). Oh, and we have to squeeze in a sliver of a social life. And deal with problems at home. And hit repeat. Every. Single. Day.

I know what you are thinking – why should you care about how tough our lives are? That was not part of the job description you signed up for, was it? Not caring is always much easier, right? If that is the case, take a minute to read over this quote. And then read it again.

“…we must choose between what is right and what is easy” -Albus Dumbledore

Do not find pleasure in tormenting us, because that is the last thing we need. Do not use extra work as a form of punishment. By doing this, you are making it pretty clear that your subject and the work that it entails deserves to be loathed by your students. Think twice before you assign that extra essay – because writing is an art that should be valued and appreciated, not hated because it was assigned as a punishment. Think another hundred times (and then change your decision) before you refuse to round up a GPA that is just a fraction of a fraction from being an A. If you were courteous and kind towards your students in the first place, you would have cultivated a respect from them that you would not need to command through insulting your own subject (which you picked to teach) and threatening to their futures.

Judging from the diatribe written above, I know I probably sound like your typical rebellious teenager. However, you should know that I love high school. And I deeply and sincerely appreciate the teachers who are the exact opposite of the ones I describe above. They may not realize it, but their positivity and zeal have inspired and influenced me more than you would think.

I remember when I despised the life sciences in middle school. It was not taught to me in the way that it deserved to be. I felt an overwhelming ennui in that class. However, I am so fortunate as to have the freshman year biology teacher that I have. She completely changed my perspective on the subject and made me fall in love with it. A subject that I detested and loathed in middle school is now a subject I am considering majoring in. To prove my point further, I thought world language was trivial in sixth grade. But my seventh grade teacher turned that opinion around 180 degrees. The way she spoke of French – praising its beauty by comparing it to a gentle song, and making every syllable that left her mouth a euphonic string of mellifluousness – gave me the privilege of loving the language. Merci beaucoup, Madame! Je vais toujours adorer le français, et vous me manquez!

So teachers, if you are wondering just how much you can impact your students’ lives, I am a living, breathing example. I can advocate for students who are fortunate enough to have teachers like this and say that we never forget you. You are some of the greatest people we have ever met and you truly changed our lives. We thank you, and hope that every student gets to experience this pristine state of learning – passionate and pure.

You own a part of our day – every day. Use this time to show us kindness. To give us someone to go to in times of need, to look up to, and to thank in the future. Present information in a way that leaves us hungry for more, that makes our brimming curiosity overflow from our brilliant and capable minds. Attempt to cure our insatiable thirst for knowledge in the best way possible. 

So if there’s anything you take away from this slew of words, it is this:

Teachers change lives. You have the power to make us fall in love with and cultivate a deep passion for learning, or make us writhe in our desks from the pain of watching the clock tick ever so slowly. It’s up to you.

Kind regards,

-shuba prasadh

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