Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Teacher:

I know I'm a little old to be writing you a letter, but I just finished reading a post about a teacher who was concerned about fostering connections in her classroom so that no child was left behind, bullied, or left out.

That post hit a nerve with me.  There are several things I wish you could have known about me when I was in school.

I wish you had recognized that I was being bullied at school.  That time I got detention for hitting an older student?  He was bullying my brother.  He did it all the time.  The girls did the same thing to me.

As bad as the bullying was, I wish you had known that being at school was preferable to going home. I wish you had recognized that I had bruises on top of bruises.

I wish you had seen past my social awkwardness and recognized that no one was teaching me the little niceties that would have made my life in society go more smoothly.

I wish you had taken the time to tell me that you did see past the dirty clothes, the B.O., and defensiveness, and that I was worth getting to know, because it must have been obvious that I really didn't have friends.

I learned a lot in your classrooms, along with my school lessons.
I learned that the popular students were worthy of your attention.
I learned that I would not be heard.
I learned to keep my mouth shut.
I learned (again) not to cry, or show anger, or frustration, or any emotion that was not positive.

You were successful.  Almost 30 years later, I am still trying to unlearn some of those lessons.  I don't think you were intentionally teaching those things, but the collateral lessons seem to stick around a lot longer than those we are actually trying to teach, wouldn't you agree?

P.S. I know that none of my grade school teachers are teaching any longer.  This is not directed at any one teacher, but at the atmosphere created in the schools in which I received my education.

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