The letter following this paragraph was addressed to me by one of my students and was received on May 11. I have chosen to have my name deleted, as it is not my purpose to get any form of recognition on my teaching thanks to its publication. I simply wanted to dearly thank this student for his or her thoughtful and greatly appreciated. As a way of doing this, I would like to share the letter with all other graduate and teaching assistants who, like me, may have at times believed their work was not recognized or fully appreciated.
Again, thank you: knowing that students like you─who are the real and only source of our gratification─are there, eager to learn what we can offer them, helps us walk to class with a smile on our faces and the highest hopes in ours hearts.
A Modern Languages graduate teaching assistant
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I am typing you this letter because I don't want you to know who I am─not because I am concerned about the content of this letter, but because I don't want your attitude toward it to be tainted by your obligation to distribute impartial grades. I'm sure you are wondering why I am writing you this letter. There are two reasons. First, I want to express my respect and admiration for you as a teacher and as a friend. Second, I don't want you to leave my country with a negative opinion of American college students.
I came into college with a very mixed up conception of myself, and no idea what career I wanted to pursue. Now I'm looking at becoming an English teacher.
Through education I hope to touch people's lives a little. I want to open young minds, to change their narrow perspectives, and show them how big the world is. I want to give them the gift of an independent spirit and a lively intellect. Now, I realize that the goals of aspiring teachers, like me, are often too lofty to ever be fully realized, but I have no unrealistic conceptions of the classroom. I don't think that teachers have all the answers, but I know that they are in a wonderful position to guide and mold developing minds.
Over the years I have been blessed with many excellent teachers. They have taught me more than just the subject matter in the textbooks. Whether it was their intention or not, much of their personality and energy often seeped out of them in between the lessons and permeated the classroom. I know I have learned more than what is written in the books. I have respected and admired my good teachers, not for single-handedly changing my life, but for being real, caring human beings. What a gift you have all given!
I also hope that my letter has given you a sense of the hunger for knowledge that does exist everywhere, and that it has encouraged you in an often discouraging profession. You teachers are all needed and loved. Especially in the U.S., we see people who are disrespectful toward their instructors, and nothing enrages me more. I wish I could make them understand that they are heckling those who are devoted to one of the most thankless, yet most important jobs that exists! What an ironic paradox: that sometimes those who are needed most are the least appreciated!
I just wanted to let you know that there are students who understand and value the work that you do ... thank you!
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