We all have that one high school teacher who has taught us valuable life lessons beyond just mathematics or literature or whichever course it might be. In my sophomore year of high school, I was lucky enough to have this teacher for two classes every day: journalism and literature.
Unlike some teachers I've had in the past, she welcomed all perspectives, especially when we interpreted texts in literature or discussed ideas for the school newspaper. Up until last school year, I've always been extremely afraid to share my opinions in class after hearing several times that my interpretation was not what the author really meant. True or untrue, hearing this consistently in a discouraging learning environment lowered my confidence about speaking up with an opposing opinion. In this class, however, I could confidently share my thoughts on a text and receive feedback on my ideas without judgement (at least none that I noticed).
In last year and this year's journalism classes, we pitch ideas for the newspaper every month. If an idea seems unfitting or incomplete, she doesn't simply reject it. She makes an effort to work with students and to find a solution. If an idea is far from workable, she does not just turn it down; she kindly makes it into a mini-lesson and explains why it would not fit. That's one of my favorite things about this teacher. All opinions are welcome, and those with an unpopular opinion are questioned solely out of interest and curiosity rather than shame.
Aside from working on the actual newspaper, we had several team-building activities last year. One of the activities was to discuss a series of statements about ourselves and our interests, and this activity continued on for about three weeks. The topics were fairly personal, discussing relationships and personality types. I actually felt pretty comfortable sharing my experience with mental illnesses. My teacher listened intently as I spoke, even when it seemed difficult for me to articulate my feelings. Some people get distracted or just don't care to hear it, but my teacher really listened to me and gave me advice on handling these issues.
There are many teachers who just teach content in the curriculum but don't try to get to know their students as individuals. This teacher has not only been an English and journalism teacher but has also taught me how to face the obstacles in my life head-on - some lessons I may never learn in a class. So I have to say it again, thank you. Thank you so much.