Dear Teacher: Heartfelt Advice To Teachers From Students

Meeting people where they are: it’s such a simple idea, yet one that is easily overlooked. A learning disability or other type of diagnosis doesn’t exempt the rest of us from reaching out to children to meet them where they are. If we employed just a little more patience and understanding, think of the difference we could make. If we remembered different students have different needs when we are shaping policy for our schools, we could really affect change.

Brain Highways is an educational program based on neuroplasticity: the concept that the brain has the potential to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Those behind this program got 60 kids together to collaborate on writing this “Dear Teacher” letter, which they turned into a short. The message is this: “So, while it may take years to change laws on how health care addresses mental health issues, these kids hope their message will be shared with as many educators as possible—knowing that teachers can truly make a huge difference, starting TODAY.”

“Kids with a formal diagnosis, such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, learning disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder — along those who just need to move while learning–often find it challenging to shine in a traditional classroom. The kids who collaborated to write and star in this “Dear Teacher” video represent such students. So, they wanted to share with educators how their brain works and offer simple ways teachers can help.”

So often the responsibility to reach kids falls square on the shoulders of teachers — and that simply isn’t fair. This is a great reminder for everyone — not just teachers. Teachers need resources and support to be able to reach students in the ways they need to be reached. We cannot expect teachers to meet the individual needs of every student in their class without support.

This video is touching because it reminds us that children are unique beings that have unique needs — but the title could be “Dear Adults” or “Dear Parents” or “Dear Anyone” who is responsible for reaching and sculpting young minds. We can ALL make a difference. Let’s stop forcing teachers to assume all the responsibility for the present school system’s inability to reach all kids. Teachers are on the front line and need to be advocating for our students. But the teachers themselves need parents advocating for them.