An open letter to my students It's Simply Lindsay

While I am only one teacher voicing one humble teacher’s opinion, this is a letter intended for high school students everywhere. Maybe this applies to you and maybe not. Maybe you read it and think back to your high school days and realize, “that was so me.” Maybe not. Either way, read this with an open mind, an open heart, and minimal eye rolling please. Because I’m telling you all the secrets behind me being a teacher; all the deep dark truths behind my methods and strictness that you might not realize. I’m speaking to you frankly because I know you’re equipped to take a real assessment of yourself after being confronted from a place of care.

Often when people think of a teacher’s job, they comment on the benefits of the schedule- getting off work at 3, winter break, spring break, and all those random days off in between. But what you don’t realize is that when you leave school and head to soccer practice, play rehearsal, your job, or home, pushing all thoughts of school and teachers far from your brains, is that I’m thinking about you.

Kind of a lot. Like, all the time. And maybe not in the way you think.

An Open Letter to High School Students

You focus on points- your grades- I get it; grades are important for your future. But while you’re crunching hypothetical numbers and trying to squeeze out half points from me, your grade is not what I’m thinking about. My thoughts and concerns for you reside outside the realm of academia, points, and tests. To me, you are way more than your grades. Even though high school is your whole world right now, high school isn’t everything. It’s a necessary stage in your life you need to develop. It’s a stepping stone. It’s not everything.

Your great challenge

In fact, school isn’t even your great challenge, can you believe it? Life is. You know, that ‘life’ that exists beyond the brick walls of our school, the one that is going to throw you way more curve balls than the drama you immerse yourself in? There are more important issues that wait for you, far greater than feeling tempted to cut corners, cheat, or maybe even lie to turn in a 10 point homework assignment. There’s even life beyond the tears, breakups, and parties; I promise you that while high school is now your entire world, you will soon look back and believe that it was so small. That you were so young. That you were so small.

Why I worry

I worry about you for quitting; for showing up when you feel like it; for being only physically present. I worry about you for the excuses, the lack of effort, the complete disinterest. I worry not because my ego can’t handle it, but because you are setting yourself up for failure in life beyond high school.

When I write you a referral for tardiness or a dress code violation, it’s not that I can’t handle you being a minute late or that I cannot tolerate looking at someone without a tucked in shirt. It’s more than that – it’s about teaching you to respect and abide by the rules. I have had friends locked out of their college classes and fired from their jobs for tardiness. I care about your future.

When I give you a zero for late work, it’s not because I hate you or am being unfair. I’m teaching you the importance of meeting deadlines and the consequences that come with not being 100% prepared.

When I sit quietly at the front of class while you’re talking, it’s not because I can’t stand being interrupted – I have strong character, I can handle that. It’s about making you realize the inappropriateness of your conversation, either in topic or timing, and letting you come to the conclusion to stop on your own. Or not. Many students never have that self-realization, and that worries me too.

When I assert classroom rules, it’s not about bowing down to me as an authority figure. As much as you may think it, this is completely not the case. You know that my classroom is a place of reciprocal learning and respect – I learn from  you, too. I worry about you in terms of your maturity and lack of awareness and respect for others around you.

Cutting Corners

It hurts my heart when I see you choosing not to work- to cut corners- to cheat, lie, and be sneaky. (Well, you think you’re being sneaky, at least.) It upsets me when you choose to take the easy way out because I worry it will develop into a destructive habit that will come back to teach you a lesson in your future; I don’t want it to come to that.

You have no idea how great you have it – no matter what personal, family, and social issues you have, you’re here – at an amazing school. You have people who care immensely about you giving you everything they can for the betterment of your minds, souls, and life. I had no idea how great I had it either; it’s one of those things that you’ll later look back at and say, “ohhh, I get it now.”

Take advantage of that! Take advantage of us! Not by copying homework, Snapchatting in class, or carrying on your oh so important conversations while I’m teaching – no!

Take advantage by squeezing all of the knowledge out of me. I don’t know it all, but girls and guys, I know a lot. Take advantage of me by questioning the material, engaging with the lesson, and learning as much as you can. Take advantage of it now, because it will never be handed to you so freely.

How I react

Many of you notice and ask why I’m always smiling; why don’t I have bad days? Why don’t I ever complain? As a student who has lied to my face, plagiarized, cheated on a quiz right in front of me, or texts during class, you might wonder how I will react to you. Well, you tell me – how have I reacted to you?

With patience. With a smile. With firmness, respect, and a helping hand. Why would I face you this way after you choose to disrespect me, my class, or others around you?

Because I care. When you’re an adult, work becomes the biggest, most time consuming part of your life, and I love my life. I love my job. I love it because of all of you. I can see past any of these problems because I know you are capable of so much greatness, and I know that you are good. You are more than points. You are more than choosing Spark Notes over reading the book. You are more than me catching you texting in class. Those are temporary, fleeting moments. You’re more than all of that.

Do you get it now?

I actually really, honestly, and truly care about you as humans, not just students in my classroom.

Lasting thoughts

When you go home and push me from your mind, I’m still thinking of you. Long after you graduate and are thanking God Beowulf is behind you and there are no more papers to write, you’ll forget me, but I will still think of you.

You know what people say about your generation? That you’re a bundle of controversies: apathetic yet demanding. In need of instant gratification yet unwilling to put in the work. I’m on your side, so let’s prove them wrong.

I know you! I know you are capable of more! I have seen it, from some of you on a daily basis and others of you in fleeting glimpses, but for all of you, it is there. I believe in you.

So if this applies to you (you know who you are), then it’s time to get your act together, okay? Stop approaching life with the “will I get points for this?” mentality. Stop the excuses and start taking accountability. Just stop it, guys and girls. You’re capable of so so much more.

PS– Never stop being kind.

PPS– Never stop questioning your values and challenging the status quo.

PPPS– If you see this and comment insightfully, who knows? Maybe you’ll get extra credit. Or not- because it’s not about points, right?

  • Nat Rosasco

    This is simply an amazing insight into you as a person and as a teacher. Another great post that I feel with touch the lives and hearts of many.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Awww thanks dad : ) I appreciate you reading and for your comment.

      • So sweet your dad commented!!! <3

  • Megan Boyle

    This is amazing

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks Megan – as a high school student, what do you think about it?

      • Megan Boyle

        The topic definitely grabbed my attention, I am so happy I read it! I think it is very well written and has awesome points

  • Such a great letter, Lindsay! Your students are lucky to have you 🙂

  • I was just having this conversation with Mark yesterday about my students (Grad level mind you!) like grown adults and the excuses they have for why they can’t turn in their work and how “my other teachers have let me do this” etc etc. I’m so happy to hear you being strict and making them be accountable because this generation growing up…..I’m telling you what. It’s scary sometimes.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Unbelievable! When I was going through my grad school program, I was also astonished at how these grown adults would act – and I mean really grown – I was the youngest by about 15 years – so that does show you that these behaviors can and do develop into habits that can be broken now! What do you do when they give you excuses?

  • This is a great letter! I wish that I had encountered more teachers like you during my education. There were some and I loved them, but so many just didn’t have the same passion that you obviously do!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading, Rachel – I find my job and life very enjoyable because I am so passionate about it : )

  • LOL! Lindsay- one of your best posts so far. I have so many comments to make about this! First of all before I forget, LOL at the last PPPS!!! I’d be curious to check back with you and let you know if any of them will. Gosh, Lindsay, your students are so lucky to have you. I bet you’re that popular teacher that they all like because they KNOW that even if you might yell at them, it’s because you truly love and care about them. I love that you incorporate ACTUAL LIFE LESSONS…that grades aren’t everything, and that life is a struggle. And I love that you have positive things to say about this generation because I feel like they always get shit on when they bring so much introspect to the world. You are amazing- LOVE THIS POST!!!!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I always value your comments and appreciate your support : ) Let’s see if any students read my blog and catch this – I’ll be curious to see! It’s really easy to be judgmental and criticize the behavior we see, but what’s the point of complaining about it and spreading negativity? Then they really have no chance!

  • Teachers like you made school enjoyable for me. I was a great student – never cheated, always worked hard, went above and beyond. However, it was frustrating to have some teachers who didn’t care about the students. And as students, you can tell which teachers truly care and which ones are there to gossip and have summers off. 😉
    My sister is an English teacher for 7th and 8th graders and I have so much respect for her. Good teachers are worth their weight in gold. You my friend, are a good teacher.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I didn’t know your sister was an English teacher! What a smart girl : ) People who have close family or friends who are teachers and really know what goes into it definitely appreciate the profession more, I have found. Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words, Jaelan. I can totally see you as that perfect students – we would have been friends for sure! I don’t even go in the faculty room anymore just in case there is gossiping and negativity – not worth it to me.

  • I love this! I work at a school and I agree with so much of this. The things we do–like enforce a tardy policy–we do to prepare them for life once they’re out of school. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading! What do you do at the school?

  • This is beautifully said. Teachers are really given a lot of responsibility and unfortunately are sometimes the only people who are “caring” for the kids in their classroom. That is so much burden! Thank you for caring so much. You’re making a huge impact.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Your comment made me smile – thanks so much! My “kids” are 17 and 18-years old, but they still need care, structure, and guidance as much (or even more) than younger students!

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    Oh I love love this! I share so so many similar thoughts for my students. I think it can be such a frustrating job with frustrating students, but I think ultimately it is so rewarding and I do enjoy my students a lot. Thanks for putting into words lots of my every day thoughts!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I’m sure you can relate, Kelsie! I know, even from just following your blog and social media, that you’re a great teacher.

  • That’s awesome that you care so much about your students. I know there are teachers who really could care less (I had some when i was in school) but it’s always great to have teachers that care. I know when I was in high school I thought that it was everything because I was always told how important high school was for your future. Yes it’s important but it truly is not going to be your whole life. Once you get out into the real world you’ll sometimes wish you could go back to high school. I was one of those teens who could not wait to leave home, go to college and then be a grown up. Well let’s just say being a grown up is not as fabulous as I thought it would be but you always make the best of everything. I hope that your students realize how amazing you are as a teacher for caring about them. You will help them go far.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You’re such a peach, Mistle, thanks for reading and for your comment. You can always tell the level of a teacher’s actual interest and passion – there’s just a vibe you pick up on. I’m lucky to work in a school where every teacher I know really does care – it makes a big difference. You’re so right about all the different phases of maturing – you think it will be one way and it turns out that it’s not.

  • Teachers like you are the best kind. The ones that really care about their students and their futures. My mother was one of those kinds of teachers. She is retired now, but is still connected to some of the kids she taught. I hope some of your students will see that high school is such a temporary state, a small time in their life, but that the decisions they make now can affect the rest of their lives.

  • This is so wonderful. It’s so important to teach kids about accountability and respect!

  • Wow. I looooved this … and, as a parent of two teenagers (who are, unfortunately, not YOUR students) I thank you. It’s obvious you’re a teacher who gets it and knows what is important. You care. I wish there were more of you to go around. XO

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Your comment made me smile from the inside out! Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment. I wish your teens were my students, too : )

  • I’m a teacher too and this is all so true! I still worry about kids I had 5 years ago. Your students are lucky to have you.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      That’s awesome Brittany, what do you teach?? I’m glad you can relate : )

  • I love this 💕 I feel similarly about “my” students, but where I never had my “own,” I feel maybe a little different urgency. Like, I may have only subbed for this kid once, but they stuck with me because they smiled at me from the front row when I looked nervous. I hope they still encourage people like that. Or the kid I talked to in my counseling office about how she was afraid people in college wouldn’t like her the way people in high school didn’t. I hope the talk we had stuck with her and she was able to make at least one lifelong friend in her first class. I didn’t get to spend a whole year with anyone, maybe only 15 minutes ever in some cases, so I hope I was able to make a difference in those few minutes. My favorite line from your post was the one about proving them wrong together. In all of the relatively brief encounters I had with these kids, I found so.many amazing people. I get so angry when my elders gripe about kids nowadays. Because they haven’t seen what I’ve seen… I wish I could introduce them to “my” kids.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I am absolutely sure that you impacted many students, even in the short amount of time you were with them. I’m waiting to see if any of my students comes across this on their own before showing it to them to see what they think – that will be interesting : ) One student that I know of read it so far, and hearing her reaction was interesting and insightfu.

  • Paige Allison

    You are such a great teacher. Those kids are so, so lucky to have you!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Oh gee thanks, Paige : )

  • Vanessa Godinez

    As a current student in Ms. Rosasco’s English class I am truly grateful to have a teacher like her. This letter sums her up as a teacher and even a mother. I enjoy English because Ms. Rosasco cares and encourages me to not give up. I am a senior and I only have about 12 days left so this encouragement can help with the so called senioritis. I could not be more thankful for a teacher like Ms. Rosasco.

  • Angel Ramirez

    Ms.Rosasco truly practices what she preaches! I am a current senior in her English 4 class at ICCP. Without a doubt it can be harder to teach an all senior class, especially with less then 3 weeks left of school. Ms.Rosasco makes it a point to make all her students still feel important and know that she cares. Although this article wasn’t too much of a surprise because I always knew Ms. Rosasco was a great teacher, it was very comforting and inspiring. It makes me want to push on and finish my senior year strong. Ms.Rosaco’s class is always a breath of fresh air because we discuss proper grammar/necessary life skills, reality, and even a bit of Beowulf! 😉

  • Josh Simmons

    Very blessed to have such a caring teacher. I have had great teachers in the past but since the first day I have been in her class, I knew there was something different. She gets “us.” I have noticed the way she deals with disruptive students and it’s different. Its almost like she’s a Zen master the way she so poised when deala with certain situations. Thank You

  • Kasey Carver

    as a current student of mrs. rosasco i can honestly say she truly means every word in this article. it is so nice to know i have such a caring teacher. the way she teaches/communicated with us is different from all the other teachers at iccp. she is very understanding and loves her job.

  • Kyle Barczynski

    You knows how students act and you knows how to work with it.
    Ms. Rosacso is the most careing teacher out there, as I’m one of her students at ICCP.

  • Ashley O’Brien

    As a student, it’s definitely not always easy seeing things through the perspective of a teacher. This article gave me that perspective and I’m happy it did. Now I can see the legitament reasoning behind things (like being strict on the uniform policy) that used to seem unfair to me. These lessons should be instilled in students everywhere!
    It’s also always a breath of fresh air when reading how much you are actually cared for.

  • alexis storrs

    This is insanely good advice! I hate admitting this, but I’ve never really tried to see life through the perspective of my teachers. Reading this humbled me and opened my eyes to see that high school isn’t only for the grade & the GPA. Its there for us to grow our minds, hearts, and character. Its there to allow us to mess up! Mess ups are apart of learning! But when we mess up , its comforting to know that we have teachers( like you) who genuinely are there to guide us through our rough patches. And cheer with us when we reach the top.
    THANK YOU. (:

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Alexis, thanks for taking the time to not only read this but to write such a thoughtful response. How did you come across this post? I’m glad you did and hope it provided a new perspective.