When I first came to the Bay Area and before I got a job that paid the rent, I worked as a teacher's aide in the Oakland public schools. I worked at children's centers as well as a volunteer; the centers were attached to the public schools.
I always liked kids and I had some thoughts about maybe becoming a teacher.
My experience there as an aide and my own experience as a student as a youth reinforced the respect I have always had for teachers. Of course there are bad teachers, there are people in any occupation or public service that may have lost the will to produce their all or are just not nice people. What a job it is in today's world though, trying to give 35 kids speaking 8 languages the best education possible. All the ills of society are brought in to the classroom, broken homes, drug problems, just plain poverty and exhausted parent(s) working two jobs.
I have a friend who teaches English to working class youth at a community college. She helps me, or if she has time, anyone who needs it and the love she has for her work can be seen in the passion when she's explaining what that dangling whatever means or why it is not best to put a preposition at the end of a sentence. Here is a video my friend sent me and it's a good one I think. Below it are two letters she received form students and that she treasures.
Thank you for being one of the best teacher I have met over the course of my education. Through primary school and middle school the focus of a lot of teachers has always been on the grades of their students and there was very little emphasis on their well-being otherwise. I grew up alone, surrounded by books and the Internet and I could never approach any of my teachers about anything, even though we were encouraged to was there a need. They were not helpful. They didn’t know how to deal with it effectively or how to deal with students effectively.
You are the strongest, kindest and most beautiful woman I have ever met. I’ve never had a role model, but I eventually realized I want to be just like you as I grow older. I want to be knowledgeable.
I want to be well-read. I want to be kind and strong and independent. I want to realize that I don’t need the validation of a man, to understand that I don’t need the validation of anybody to be happy. This is a problem that I’ve struggled with constantly, having been bullied by males about my height and weight, but it was the section on women during class that allowed me to lift my head high and finally let go of the resentment that I harbored towards those boys.
For the first time in a long while, I didn’t feel alone anymore. I knew I could talk to you if I had to, and that was all I needed—a parent figure who could comfort me and tell me everything was going to be alright and a person that I could talk to about anything. It was like I had gained a mother or an older sister—and I was glad, because my mother and I might as well be strangers.
I ‘m glad you became a professor here. I’m glad I met you. Thank you for all your concern and help and time and effort, both inside and outside of classes.
Sincerely, and with love
From another student:
May we meet again someday in our lifetime so that you can see how much more knowledgeable and wiser I became thanks to the wisdom that you have passed down to me. Never more so than now that you have taught me that being my own self with my own ideas, personality and unique talents is the only thing that will help make me stand out in a crowd of thousands. Thank you for being the wonderful teacher that you are and please continue to inspire others like me out there in this small world of people who are “Waiting for Godot.”
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