Dear All of My Previous Teachers,
It has been a little under 3 years, since I was last in your classroom. A lot has happened in the past 3 years. I’ve launched this blog, I’ve traveled out of the United States for the first time, I have joined a sorority, leadership program, and I have written rough drafts of 2 books. I have worked at a nonprofit, I’ve been on a community service trip, and I’ve changed a lot as a person. Now, I am a junior Earth Science Education major in college. 3 years ago today, I officially became an education major and that is because of you guys.
I was the “weird” kid in growing up. I got bullied a lot. People mocked me, teased me, and called me names. Most of it was in person, some of it was online, but either way it still hurt a lot. There were days where the bullying would tear me down and I felt like I had no friends. It was hard when you’re getting teased by everyone to know where the line between friendly teasing and bullying lies. I didn’t, and there was a point where the bullying tore down my confidence. It was at its worst my sophomore year of high school, and the bullying was breaking me down along with other stuff going on in my life.
I think back to the moments when the bullying was intense. I think back to the days where I faked a smile just to show everyone I was “okay”. In reality, I was sleeping the days away because I was so exhausted from getting bullied. My motivation for school lacked, and I didn’t care. This might shock people, but I was not a good student during the peak of when I was getting bullied. I was doing homework at the last minute, I barely studied for exams, and I didn’t care about school. I was rocking a mid 80s average, and I was skating by with decent grades. All of you (my teachers) saw that I was capable of doing more. It would’ve been easy to give up on a student like me and think that I didn’t have potential, but you didn’t.
Instead, you made sure the classroom was a safe space for the outcast like me. You worked with me. I had one teacher who had noticed that I was no longer the confident teenage girl who they had once met. I had become someone who was scared to speak up for myself. I felt that none of my peers cared about me because the bullying got that bad. Literally, it was endless, and it felt like every moment possible (except for when you guys were teaching) I was getting teased. That teacher who had noticed that I had lost my confidence asked me where it went. I shook my head suggesting that I didn’t know. They told me in a disciplinarian, but caring tone that I need to get my confidence back. In that moment, I knew how much all of my teachers cared about me. There was another instance where there were 2 people in my class who were teasing me, and my teacher stopped it in the most subtle way ever. At that point, I was numb to the bullying because I had experienced it so much, but I remember that moment. It was the moment where I felt like I could truly express myself in a classroom.
That moment flipped the switch for me. I wanted to try harder in the classroom and I wanted to be a better student. I didn’t want to get bad grades because I didn’t want disappoint you guys.
The sad part about me getting bullied is, I liked school. I loved learning, but I hated the moments when I wasn’t learning, and I was getting bullied. I struggled finding tables to sit at lunch, I struggled making friends, and I struggled feeling like I was important.
In the worst of those moments, you guys were the face of hope and peace for me. I think back to the moments of when I felt helpless, but my teachers reminded me that I wasn’t. Whether that was asking me where my confidence went, simply diverting the bullying, or just by talking and giving advice to me in the morning. I saw the difference that teachers can make on a student’s world. I saw how teachers change the world beyond just teaching their content matter. It had a direct impact on me. My teachers made their classrooms a safe space for me. They created an environment that enabled to be comfortable being myself. I didn’t feel like an outcast in their classrooms, and I felt like my voice mattered.
During the worst of my bullying, the people that helped me get through it at school were my teachers. When I am a teacher, I am going to be my students’ biggest supporter, advocate, ally, and so much more. In my classroom, everyone’s voice matters and everyone is included. I am going to promote kindness, respect, and inclusivity. Everyone matters, everyone is important, and everyone is worthy. That’s not just for my classroom, but that is for all of life in general.
Getting bullied was awful. It was hard, but it formed me into being someone who is confident, strong, and can take on any challenge that comes my way. It has made me resilient, loyal, caring, and driven.
To my teachers, thank you for creating that safe space. Thank you being another set of my role models for me. Thank you for making me feel like I matter, I’m important, I’m worthy, and I can be myself. Thank you for showing me how teachers change the world. Thank you for being people who I can look up to and aspire to be like when I am conducting my own classroom in a few years. If it weren’t for you guys, I would not be the person I am today. I love the person I am today.
To everyone, first of all, be kind to one another. If you don’t like something on social media, simply ignore it. Don’t leave a nasty comment or send a rude message. Trust me, words hurt. To anyone who needs to hear this, you are important, worthy, good enough, and you do matter. All because you do.
Your Former Student, Katie DeBois
@dayswithdebois on Instagram