Middle School Student
Chinese + Caucasian
Q: What do you have in common with your teachers?
A: As a mixed race student, not many teachers reflect my cultural background. When my teachers and I can relate in other ways, I feel as if being a minority doesn’t matter because we connect in other, more important ways. You don’t need to have the same race or gender to understand another person, and even a small commonality can mean the world.
I had an amazing 4th grade teacher; she was always extremely enthusiastic and loved teaching. Near the end of the school year, my class had an assignment to write about an important keepsake. Although at the time I had no idea what a keepsake was, I had known for a while that I wanted to write about my cello. I had never really struggled with writing before, but I was very apprehensive about how to put the connection I felt with my instrument into words. I knew it was just a hollow block of wood, but it meant so much more to me. Not many of my peers understood, and the thought that I had to funnel a tornado of thoughts into just five paragraphs was maddening. No words I knew could express my feelings.
When it was time to present my essay, I was scared that my teacher wouldn’t understand exactly how I felt, and that I wasn’t precise enough in my explanation. Luckily for me, she had played the violin since she was a kid, and knew exactly what I meant. My teacher understood, and she helped me make my writing clearer. She helped me concentrate and explain my tornado of thoughts coherently.
That similarity with music helped me with my education. And although my writing is nowhere near perfect, the fact that I had something in common with my teacher helped me build my skill.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: Absolutely! I believe the most important part of student teacher relationships is empathy. The ability to see others point of view, and feel with them.
If a student understands that their teacher respects them and knows what they’re going through, they are much more likely to respect and understand them back. Although students and teachers can be different, even the smallest commonality can make the biggest impact.
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.