The new question of the week, aimed at students, is as follows:
What was your best classroom experience and what action or actions did a teacher take to help you get there (if they did)? Please be specific. What can other teachers learn from this experience?
I previously shared answers to a similar question on Students share their best school experiences and what we can learn from them.
I think these answers – and those appearing in this post – are so insightful that I’ve decided to make it a “recurring” question.
If you are a K-12 teacher and want your students to write 200-400 word answers to these questions, send me the best ones at [email protected] (accompanied by an email or a copy of an email from the parent/guardian stating: “I give permission for my child’s essay to be published in Education Week”). If we agree that they are worthy of publication, I will be happy to use them. I will be accepting contributions at any time over the next 12 months.
By the way, you can see many previous student contributions that have appeared here at Student Voices.
Several of my students wrote today’s answers:
“Take care of us as people”
Julianna Eakle is a student at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California:
My best classroom experience was when I was in 11th grade. I was going through difficult times in my personal life and this teacher helped me through it all. During this time, my brother, who had previously gone to school, had to move because of these problems, and I had a very hard time adjusting to the fact that he was not as well at home. home than at school. He had asked this professor to promise to always watch over me and to always watch over me.
This promise was made when I was in 10th grade, and this teacher never failed to keep it. It was a great experience for me because this teacher is close to my brother and me, and he knew how much I missed him. Even out of class, on the track, he would always tell me something my brother had told him, and it made me sad, but determined.
My teacher helped make it a great experience because even today, whether I look down or not, he still makes sure I’m okay.
Teachers can learn from this story that it is important for us students to feel that you care about us as people.
“He listened to my rants”
Vincent Xiong is a first at Luther Burbank High School:
The best teaching experience of my career is back in first grade. The reason it was fun was that we had to sing in class but in Hmong. The song could have been a Hmong or a translated Hmong song. It helped me because it helped me gain confidence and I’m a bit into singing now but my voice is bad and raspy.
This teacher also helped me talk to him about my feelings individually without any judgment, and he listened to my rants when I needed someone to talk to. It wasn’t like he was just saying “OK, mhm, OK, I see”, he was listening and actually giving more information about the problem I had.
Teachers can learn from this that it is important to create fun opportunities in the classroom and to listen to us.
“Believe in your students”
Anniyah Rhone is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:
My best class memory should have been when I was in 8th grade and we had our 8th grade awards ceremony where they would recognize student academic achievement. I remember I was sitting in the back row with my friends, and one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Carr, convinced me to dress up for this particular event.
I had received an award for the honor roll and for another of my classes, but at the end of the ceremony, the principal gave the principal’s award to a boy and a girl from the 8th grade. She started talking about how the student was very good in all of her classes and how she was very caring and helpful to people around campus. “How did she do all these wonderful things?” I remember very well asking myself the question.
Lo and behold, she was talking about me, and I received this award with one of my oldest friends. I chose this moment because it was the first time I realized that I am making a difference in people’s lives and that I am worth something. I always had a hard time believing that I would be someone or that people would notice me for the work I do and not for the jokes I tell. It was the first time that people saw me as Anniyah and not as Shamira’s little sister. It was the first time that I began to believe in myself.
Mrs. Carr made the experience better because she came to me and told me that she was proud of me and that she always knew that I would achieve great things and that was only a matter of time before everyone sees it. It was the experience that started my journey towards self-love.
Teachers can learn from this that it is important to believe in your students and what they are capable of and to let them know that.
“We sometimes communicated in Spanish”
Vanessa Pedraza Ruiz is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:
My best experience in a classroom was when I was in 3rd grade. It was the first two weeks of school, and I knew absolutely no one. I had just moved to the area from 30 mins. My social skills at the time were not the best as I was an only child at the time. I was very shy and not the most talkative person at that age. Keep in mind that I was one of the small number of Hispanic kids in my class.
Everyone in my class seemed to know each other very well. And then there was me, usually isolated from everyone because I didn’t know anyone. At first, my 3rd year didn’t seem to start off well, but then a student teacher, Ms. Perez, was introduced to the class. By the last name, I knew she was Hispanic.
At first, I didn’t really talk to her, but I found the courage to introduce myself to her. She was very nice and she struck up a conversation with me. We sometimes communicated in Spanish. I felt surprisingly comfortable talking to him. As I felt comfortable with her, I often participated in class discussions and activities. She eventually helped me become more social with everyone, and I finally started making a few new friends. Long story short, my 3rd grade student teacher helped me have a great experience in her classroom.
Educators can learn from this experience that having teachers who “look like” their students can help us.
He “taught us history with his stories”
Joanna Medrano-Gutierrez is a student at Luther Burbank High School:
My best classroom experience happened when I was in 6th grade. I remember it was very hot, almost at the end of the school year. By then, my teacher obviously knew what a noisy and disruptive class we were, and he had adapted perfectly. A lot of the boys in my class always tried to distract him to try and waste class time by getting him to talk about his life, and I guess he picked up on that fact pretty quickly.
We had just come back from lunch, so us kids were all sweaty and whiny from the heat, and so, we weren’t in the mood to learn the story. So that day a boy decided that we had to waste our teacher’s time with one of his stories. My teacher played along and started telling us how when he was younger, just a bit older than us at the time, he was in a play that ended horribly. I don’t remember very well what he said, all I remember is what happened a few days later.
It was now Friday, later that week the class had fully expected that since we had learned next to nothing that week, we would not have our usual bi-weekly quiz. We were so wrong. I could only look at the stack of papers and he handed out the questionnaires. What are we supposed to do? We learned almost nothing this week. These were my thoughts. Our teacher explained that we could do it, we had to do it. So, we all started the test. We passed the math and science part quite easily. But I was really surprised to find that I could answer all the story questions. My teacher had taught us history with his stories that wasted our time! Most of my classmates and I had a good laugh with our teacher. We all knew we deserved it, but hey, most of the class passed that quiz.
Educators can learn from this story that sometimes it takes a lot of creativity to help us learn what you want us to learn.
Kayla Chang is a first at Luther Burbank High School:
My best experience in a classroom was when I was in grades 7 and 8 (both years). Music class was my favorite class of the day because my other classes were boring. It was a great experience because I learned to play an instrument and it made me learn a whole other language (musical language). It was an amazing experience because it got me out of my comfort zone and performing a few short solo songs during class (for practice), and I went to a music festival called Golden Empire where I performed in front of a judge and I actually got a medal for it.
My teacher helped make it great because she was really friendly and forgiving with the homework, which was to practice your instrument for a while. She was really supportive and never forced people to play their instrument if they weren’t feeling well.
One thing teachers can learn from this is that if you want students to step out of their ‘comfort zone’, it’s important to be supportive, to focus on the important things and to be flexible about what isn’t. not so important. And be careful when we are not emotionally ready to learn.
Thanks to Julianna, Vincent, Anniyah, Vanessa, Joanna and Kayla for their comments!
Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future article. You can send one to me at [email protected]. When you send it let me know if I can use your real name if selected or if you prefer to remain anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.
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