An Open Letter to Teachers from your Students

Dear Teachers,

We know that you have a difficult job.  From what we hear, grading homework and tests, planning activities and going to meetings takes up a lot of your time.  In addition, we know that we can be a handful at times, too. While we may not always show it, we really respect what you do, and no, we can't do your job even though at times we say and act otherwise.  With that being said, there are a few things we would like you to keep in mind when you are planning lessons and interacting with us throughout the school day:

1.  Please consider toning down the amount of homework you assign us each night.  We know that when you assign homework you don't mean to keep us busy all night, but if you give a half hour of homework and so do our other six teachers, that means that we will have 3 1/2 hours of homework each night.  After we finish practice, dinner, and a spend a little time on Facebook, the only way we can get that much homework done is by staying up much later than anyone wants us to.  

2.  Just like you get bored saying the same thing all day long, we get bored having to hear and do the same thing all day long.  If every teacher chooses to lecture for the hour one day, that means that we have to sit in our seats, listen, and take notes for AN ENTIRE DAY.  We don't think you would like that very much and we don't either.  Please change up the activities that you do.  If you need to lecture for part of the hour, try to give us an activity that lets us move around the room second part of the hour.  In addition,  if you use the same teaching method every day, we will get bored.  Switch it up a little bit by using a mix of lecture, group work, projects, and worksheets.

3.  We like to be creative.  Please give us work that will allow us to display our creativity.  Taking notes and completing worksheets stifles our creativity.  Let us display our knowledge by making a poster, website, or writing a song.  The more choices you give us, the more likely we will be to turn in a high-quality final product. 

4.  We won't automatically respect you just because you are the teacher.  You need to earn our respect just like we need to earn yours.  Even though it may be hard at times, talk to us and try to get to know us.  Ask us about our interests, whether you share them or not.  It shows us that you care.  And whatever you do, don't yell at us.  Yelling at us shows us that you don't respect us and in turn, we won't respect you.   Don't forget that you always tell us to 'treat others as you would like to be treated.'  We know that you don't want to be yelled at, so please don't yell at us. 

5. We are growing up in the digital age.  Just because you went to school without laptops, iPods, and the internet doesn't mean that we should have to go through school without these technologies too.  If you are unsure how to use these technologies in class, ask someone, ask anyone.  There's probably someone in our school who can help you (here's a hint:  I can help you figure out how to let me use my iPod in class). 

6.  We have an opinion about our education and we want to share it with you.  Even though sometimes we look at you with glassy eyes, we have strong feelings about the types of activities we should do in class and how we learn best.  Please ask our opinion; you might be surprised at the valuable information we have to share.  

7.  As students, we aren't really fans of getting in trouble, so discipline isn't something we want to think about.  However, we do want you to know that we can tell when your discipline isn't consistent.  It's obvious when you don't treat all of your students the same and it is hurtful and disrespectful.  If you are going to make a rule, be sure you enforce it for everyone, not just a few kids.  Speaking of discipline, it's important for you to have rules and establish boundaries but if you could find a way to balance having rules and boundaries with being fun and having a personality we would really appreciate it.  Nobody likes to learn from someone doesn't joke around and is only focused on enforcing rules. 

8.  Make us a part of class.  When you are lecturing or explaining an activity, make us a part of the process.  After all, this is our education.  If you see some of us spacing off during a lecture, use our names as part of an example in a story.  When you explain an activity have a few of us role play the activity for our classmates.  Activities like these help to keep us engaged in the lesson and retain more information.  

Please don't be offended by this letter.  We really do understand that you have a difficult job to do.  There are days when we are surprised that you are able to keep a smile on your face after all that we put you through.  As you get ready for school tomorrow, try to keep our thoughts in mind and realize that what you do throughout the day impacts us. 


Your Students

I was inspired to write this post after reading Justin Tarte's posts, "an open letter to teachers" and "an open letter to administrators".  After reading these posts, I asked my students to write down advice they would give to teachers if they had the opportunity.  After reading all of their thoughts, I took the most popular, powerful responses for this post.

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