I must admit this is an article I never imagined submitting but I owe it to those who saved my life.
1,878 days of school later and I’ve just completed my first year of University. This is something I would not be able to say without the help of some of my old high school teachers. Every day they came in and did their job. Some made it a little more exciting than others but nevertheless I enjoyed learning. It became a little more than that though. Their job quickly became something I looked up to and something that gave me hope.
Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? How could seeing my Maths teacher doing integration on the whiteboard inspire me? How did my English teacher’s rather over-enthusiastic rendition of Lord of the Flies GCSEs give me this ‘hope’?
Well, you showed me that I could have a future.
This was in two ways. One, to the members of staff who knew what was going on, thank you for sticking with it and with me. Reflecting, I know I wasn’t easy and I insist that I apologise for all the trouble I caused but thank you. To those of you who didn’t quite understand but could see something was a little wrong, keep doing what you’re doing. Just taking the time to ask if I was okay or offering an ear or even a little extension on forgotten work made the world of difference.
Everybody had their favourite teachers and I’m no different, however mine are favourites in probably an unusual way. For someone who hated school with a burning passion, this is such a strange phrase to write. Of course I had those who made academics exciting. Those who truly seemed like they loved their job and by effect, made you love it too. Whether it was a song about Photosynthesis or a game in Maths, they are classes that inspired my love of learning and showed me that I could enter further education and that I could succeed. Your endless support to my thousands of questions never went unnoticed I promise.
There were days where I felt like I was sinking and I couldn’t get back out and, probably without realising, many of you pulled me out. Whether it was by simply intriguing me with a strange Chemistry equation or noticing that I wasn’t having the best day and offering to listen, thank you.
I also had those who made life a little easier. I remember specifically returning to school the day after a horrible night. My first class of the day was English and I just felt relieved to see the normality of our English teacher explaining the most ridiculous metaphors. As I sat there watching everyone else listening, laughing and taking notes, I felt a strange sense of hope. Just after, out of what seemed nowhere, a member of staff who I hadn’t been in class with since I was young stopped me in the corridor to say congratulations on some fundraising activity. It was such a minor comment but it hit me hard.
Similarly, when I intended to ask a simple question about Calculus but ended up taking up your lunchtime sobbing my heart out, I thank you for not turning me away. You could just have easily told me that it was not your job or that you were too busy but you didn’t. Despite the pile of marking I could see on your desk, you offered the thing I needed most – just someone to listen to me. Thank you for pushing me that one step further as well. Despite what you told me about how I had done it all on my own, I wouldn’t have gotten the help I so desperately needed without your encouragement.
I also had one teacher who was never ever my favourite but to you I owe the biggest thank you. From the day I stepped in those ugly doors at eleven, you always offered me assistance in any way you could. I can’t say I enjoyed being “known” in any way, shape or form and if I could go back I would blend into those hideous yellow walls instead. Having said that, you took whatever I threw at you without judgement and provided a sense of assurance that I could do this.
I know people will be reading this and saying, “But it’s just their job?” and to you I say, no. They did so much more than necessary.
So, to the staff who truly asked how I was. To the staff who always made me laugh in lessons and always seemed to care. To those of you who asked without asking. To those who offered life advice that I didn’t realise at the time would genuinely save my life. Little comments that I rolled my eyes at in school have stopped me from hurting myself on multiple occasions. Whether it was the teacher who wrote “I hope you know your worth” in my yearbook, the one who told me that it isn’t that I cannot do something, I simply cannot do it yet or the teacher who told me that “you can survive anything, if you take it one day at a time,” I simply want to say thank you.
You gave me hope for the future. You showed me that I had options – academically and personally – and you were the ones who encouraged me to strive for those goals. You viewed me as a person, rather than just another grade you had to obtain. You saw beyond the ‘label’ that I felt controlled my life and you encouraged me to push through my darkest of days. There is nothing I could write that will ever fully express how much I owe you so simply, thank you.
Thank you for giving me a future. Thank you for saving my life.
I have two more things to say, firstly to any students. It is okay to reach out and ask for help. It doesn’t have to be your Pastoral teacher; it could be a form teacher, a PSHE teacher or just someone you trust. Almost always they will be willing to listen and help in the best way possible. If they can’t, they’ll let you know who can. I know it can be embarrassing to be “that kid” that turned to a teacher, but if you are truly struggling and that is who you feel safest around, please don’t let that stop you.
To teachers, I know your job is hard. I’ve seen first-hand with teachers in the family. I know additional work for a “problem” you didn’t sign up for might not seem ideal but please, even if it is just asking a pupil how their day is, or asking why they didn’t do their homework rather than reacting immediately with anger. I know many of you probably know this, but it doesn’t have to be a big gesture to change their life.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.