High School Student
Q: What do you have in common with your teachers?
A: If I am being completely honest, the only thing I have in common with my teachers is that they are mostly female – that is it.
I have never encountered a Middle Eastern or even a Muslim teacher in the time that I have been in school.
However, with the recent politics it is very comforting to know that many of my teachers share some of my same beliefs or at least support me in expressing my own ideas and opinions.
After the inauguration this past January and after all the political protests and sadly the many violent acts against specific groups of people it was very easy to feel alone.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I came to school and almost all of my teachers and all of the office staff were wearing pins with different messages that preached equality, freedom of expression, and safety. Although I do not have a very direct commonality with my teachers, it is comforting to know that they are so accepting of who I am and whom I represent.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: I think it is so incredibly important for students and teachers to have things in common because it brings them closer together.
Even though it is not commonly viewed this way, teachers and students have a very special and intimate relationship. Teachers help students build their character, their interests, and ultimately their future. The exchange of information that happens between a student and a teacher is so valuable and so important. However, if a student does not feel like they can trust or feel close to their teacher then it is very likely that they will not absorb the material.
A teacher’s job is not to stand in front of a class and lecture their students. A teacher’s job is to connect with students and help them interpret the information and apply it to their own lives. In addition, when it comes to education, communication is one of the most important factors. If the student does not feel like they have anything in common with their teachers then that line of communication can very quickly be closed.
If a student has something going on at home that prohibits them from finishing their homework, or if they are going through certain mental health issues, they need to have comfort in knowing that their teacher is someone they can come and talk to. I have seen multiple situations where a student is too afraid to talk to their teacher and ask for help because they feel like they will not understand. Having something in common with a teacher makes them less scary and more approachable. They no longer become a daunting adult, but rather a friend and someone that can easily be approached.
Recently, my mosque was burned down in a very unfortunate case of arson. Coming to school and having multiple teachers ask me if I was okay, if it was the mosque I attended, and if there was anything I needed really made me feel like they cared about me and what was happening in my life both inside and outside of the classroom. I am thankful to have had amazing teachers in all my life in school and I really do believe it is because I was able to build relationships with them based on commonalities and trust.
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.