Middle School Student
First Generation American
Q: What do you have in common with your teachers?
A: I have moved to various different schools in three different school districts and most of my teachers did not relate to me by where I came from.
I had mostly girl teachers. I had one teacher that was a male in the first grade. However, all of my teachers were white. While I was born in America, my mom and dad were born in Kenya and they moved to America for work. Now I can tell you that none of my teachers were African so it was hard to relate to them culture-wise.
Although some teachers I could get something in common with. For example, my fourth grade teacher loved to read and write and get creative, so I could talk with her about books and poets and get to know her and create a bond. But then I moved to a new school and that bond had been mostly broken and I had to create another bond with another teacher in a new school.
All my teachers had various personalities so it was hard to pick out every piece of myself to understand how to talk and relate to them.
None of my teachers really tried to get to know me better, or to ask me question about myself or childhood or anything, and they didn’t really take much care in telling about themselves and showing me a side of them. There were even times when I could not talk to my friends or I could not make friends so easily partly because I moved a lot and partly because I did not relate to other kids.
What I had with my teachers was not much but I seemed to connect to the other staff much more. The office assistant was an African American so sometimes I would like talking to her and have help from her. Another thing that helped is that my mom was mostly in the school I went to so I could talk to her but sometimes you might want to get away from your mom and talk to someone new.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: I think it is very important for teachers to have something in common with their students. Coming from a person who has moved to many schools, for me, I think it would have been easier to learn from my teachers if I did connect to them.
Although having differences with my teachers did start up conversations about my different experiences. Also, I got to learn a little more about their culture and what they liked and how it even related to my experiences even though we are from two different places.
The only thing that bothered me a little is that my teachers were usually all from the same place and the same culture so when I kept moving I was thinking maybe I would learn something new and I didn’t. But I learned their likes and hobbies.
I had one teacher who was a little tough on the kids and I thought to myself, maybe if I started a conversation with her I can get her perspective, but I never found anything in common with her. Later on that made me realize the importance of having something in common with someone.
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.