Years in Education: 4--6
Malaysian + White
First Generation American
Middle and High School Math Teacher
Q: What do you have in common with your students?
A: My students are all recent immigrants and refugees to the U.S. I share the fact that I am an immigrant with them but I moved here under different circumstances than them and at a much younger age so my transition was different.
I don't know what it is like to be Muslim in America but I know what it is like to be a womxn of color and someone who is committed to racial and social justice.
While I may not share everything the same with my students, I know that our oppressions are rooted in each other and their fight is my fight. Together in solidarity we find our strength.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: Yes! Sharing common experiences leads to trust.
You do not need to have everything the same as your students, differences cause us to push one another to help each other grow, but seeing someone who you can find parts of your self in matter.
It is important that students see themselves as potential educators, or where ever their path may lead; and it is important for teachers to see themselves in their students, to have that empathy and understanding.
There is a reason that there are so few teachers of color and why students of color continue to be disenfranchised. My hope is through collectivity we can change that and truly be in solidarity.
Saraswati teaches at the Seattle World School, which serves primarily immigrant and refugee students. She is a Washington State Teacher Leader and in 2016 she won the Imagine Us Award for Bold and Visionary Leadership in Equity and Justice. Follow her on Twitter @saraswatinoel.
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.