To My Future Students

To My Future Students

I'm so lucky to be called your teacher.
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Dear Future Students,

First off, I want you to know that I am so honored to be your teacher. On the first day of school, I may look a little scary, and you’ll be a little nervous. Trust me; I will be too. I’m nervous because I’m scared that you won't like me or that you will hate my classroom. I’m nervous that I won’t be a good enough teacher to teach all of the things you need to learn by the end of the year. You may think it’s crazy for me to be nervous, and it is a little. All I want to do is be the best teacher for you. When I think about teaching you, I know that you deserve the best, and I can only hope that I am good enough for you. When it comes to the first day, I will smile a lot and will ask you questions. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but I just want to learn as much as I can about you so that I can make school as enjoyable as I can.

I don’t want to learn about you just for fun, but I also want to learn about you so that I can understand you better. I want to learn about your learning styles and what subjects interest you the most. I want to know you well enough, so when I think that you are having a hard time with something, I can get you the help you need so you don’t fall behind. Even though I’m getting you extra help, I don’t think you’re dumb or stupid. Getting additional help doesn’t mean that you aren’t as smart as everyone else; you are smart no matter what. I want to help you succeed not only in my classroom but outside of it as well.

I will try my best to make you feel comfortable enough in my classroom that you can tell me anything. Please, don’t get annoyed with me if I ask you how you’re doing or if I want to know if something is wrong. I know that may get on your nerves, and I’m sorry. I just want you to be happy. I also want you to know that I will do my best to keep you safe. If I think that your environment outside of school is not safe, I will do my best to get you into a safer one. If you feel that I’m being mean or taking you away from the people you care about, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings; I just want you to be okay.

My job is to not only teach you the common core standards, but it’s also to help shape you into being successful.

Sincerely,

Your Future Teacher

Cover Image Credit: http://theendinmind.net/

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21 Things You Say To Your Roommate If You Two Are Practically A Married Couple

Until I made this list, I didn't realize how absurdly close my roommate and I were. #sorrynotsorry
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1. "Can you turn the light off?"

2. "We probably shouldn't go out for dinner again...right?"

*complains about not having money* *spends $8 on Chipotle three times a week*

3. "I always pick where we go"

This is a fight you have with your roommate almost every day when you're roommate is as indecisive as mine.

4. "Do you have my keys?"

5. "Can you pick me up?"

6. "Is it hot in here?"

7. "Does this outfit look stupid?"

The answer is usually yes. No offense.

8. "Can you throw this out for me?"

9. "Can we get ice cream?"

10. "I need coffee"

This text is usually sent when you know your roomie is out running errands... errands you know are near a Starbucks.

11. "Can you tell me what happened?"

12. "Are you asleep?"

There have been times where I couldn't tell if you were asleep or dead... and I had to say this out loud to check if you were alive.

13. "Check your dm's."

*cracks up in the middle of nowhere* *catches a weird stare from your roomie across the room*

14. "Can you plug this in for me?"

15. "Can you pick a movie?"

Another instance where "I always pick" happens.

16. "Look at this girl's Instagram."

*chucks phone across the room at roommate*

17. "Can you call me?"

18. "Can we meet up?"

Separation anxiety is a real thing, people.

19. "Can you help me find my phone?"

*Tries to leave the house to do something* *loses phone* every. time.

20. "What should we do tonight?"

*tries to get ready to do something fun* *ends up staying in for another girls night*

21. "Why isn't everyone as great as us?"


Cover Image Credit: Juliarose Genuardi

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My Multilingual Journey

It wasn't always easy, but it was worth it.
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Ernest Hemingway once said, ”There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” This statement can be deciphered in many ways. For me, it can be related to my own personal experiences as a writer. Writing is a process that requires so much of my innate being. It is a task that I find both difficult and cathartic. The one thing that makes writing such a conflict is my multicultural and multilingual background which provides diverse resources for my writing but can also make me insecure about how to express myself.

Between my parents, there are the cultures of Britain, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (in addition to American culture as a result of my parents' immigration and my upbringing). I, myself, speak (and depending on the language, read and write) six languages. When I sit down to write, filing through all these cultures and languages can be such a daunting task that it can take me up to twenty minutes to construct a single sentence. I find myself befuddled by words that I want to use but can not find an equivalent in the English language. Or I find that the experience that they have asked me to write about in the prompt is something I have never experienced before.

The differences in the cultures that are in me and the culture I live in often find themselves at odds with each other. My path to literacy has always found itself contrasting with my warring background. Languages clashing and mother-tongues getting in the way. It is perhaps a miracle that I can read and write today. In this paper, I discuss how I became literate reflecting on my long-winded but important literacy journey and how it shaped my view of literacy as a way to reflect my diverse cultural and linguistic background.

The fact that I can speak, read and/or write six languages has been more of a nuisance than a help at the beginning of my literary journey. Since I was a young girl, I could speak multiple languages and interact with people from different and diverse cultures. When I was in the sixth grade and was asked to write a “personal story” by my English teacher, Ms. Sessions, I struggled immensely. I sat during the 45 minute class period without writing a single word.

I wanted to tell the story of me making parathas, a type of bread popular in the Southern part of Asia, with my grandmother. However, I was conflicted because I felt it was an experience that none of my Western classmates could relate to. My desire to conform contrasted with my innate identity. In his essay, "The Fortunate Traveler: Shutting between Communities and Literacies by Economy Class," Suresh Canagarajah talks about his own struggle to write in a way that would be appreciated by his Western colleagues and superiors as well as his friends and family in Sri Lanka. Canagarajah also discussed how his bilingualism affected his writing. He states, ”The Tamil of my oral interactions influences the English of my writing” (25).

I have almost the same kind of experiences that were much more foreign and exotic than the experiences of my Western peers. I did not want to be deemed strange so I chose to not express myself at all, instead of embracing my ability to speak in so many languages.

The Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu I speak at home leaks into the rhetoric that I scribbled in my English classes. It is deeply embedded and unavoidable. This felt like an obstacle early on when I was asked to write assignments about personal anecdotes because I had a desire to conform with my Western classmates but I also wanted to talk about my family.

My classmates had stories of vacations in the Poconos and playing softball. I spent my summers in the hot tropics of South Asia inside Mosquito nets. I played with chickens and walked on mud roads. These experiences made me feel alien and I failed to write cohesive stories due to the fact that I was unable to communicate my experiences fully due to the lack of vernacular in the English language to describe my cultured, distant journeys.

Ms. Sessions almost failed me in writing in the sixth grade due to the fact that my essays felt messy and strangely ordered to her. She found my descriptions befuddling and I could explain that there were no words in the English language that could describe my vibrant anecdotes. I was devastated and felt helpless because I did not know where to go to seek help. No one shared my problems. No teacher, nor any classmates could sympathize with me. In those moments of isolation, I resented the cultures that made me who I am, because they also made me lonely.

The process of becoming literate and having my peers appreciate my writing was difficult. Sometimes, when answering questions, I would use words from other languages that were not English. This made my classmates uncomfortable with me and my teachers flustered. The cultural clash caused my confidence in my writing and reading skills to further deteriorate. Even in my preference of literature, there were contrasts. I love the familial tales of Nobel Prize-winning writer Rabindranath Tagore, but I also had great admiration for the dystopias created by George Orwell. Two authors who were culturally and stylistically so different and yet I felt that they both connected with me and my writing in a deep way.

Perhaps I was beginning to discover that coming from contrasting cultures and speaking multiple languages also gave me the ability to connect with many points of views on varying specters. In his article “Cultural Schemas and Pedagogical Uses of Literacy Narratives: A Reflection on My Journey with Reading and Writing,” Ghanashyam Sharma describes studies that had observed that students originating from Africa and Asia had difficulties writing literacy narratives because in these cultures the writer is never viewed as the creator of knowledge. English compositions require the author to talk about themselves in a very personal, reflective way.

This is rooted in the fact that Western societies like America are based on individualism. In contrast, Asian societies such as China and India are based more on the filial structure. When asked to write about myself and my experiences, I felt discomfort, because, at home, my family never asked me to reflect using my own personal lense or point of view. Rather, they asked me to always take into account how an experience was for all the people in our family unit.

When I wanted to do something, I had to take into account how my mom or dad would feel as well, because cultural that was the norm in my home. For this reason, often my anecdotes were marred with red pen marks for being too short and including very little details. I felt that this would be my reality forever and I would never improve. How could I possibly explain to my peers how hard it is to condense myself into two pages without going into the nuances of my complex background?

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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