A Tear

Dear Terrence,

I’m afraid I owe you a big apology: I did something that, as a teacher with years of experience and education, I should have known better than to do. Every time you put on that pouting attitude, every time your body language said, “The devil take it,” every time you rolled your eyes when I asked you what you were doing (because you obviously weren’t working), it wasn’t attitude. It was defense. But I foolishly judged you on the mere outward appearance of your behavior without giving it much thought, without considering that there could be — and probably is — something more going on. Our chat today showed me how wrong I was, and how wrongly I was tempted to treat you.

I’m touched that you trusted me enough to tell me those things, horrible though they are. I can assure you: if I ever catch any of those kids in my classroom calling you stupid — or anyone else — there will be some rather significant consequences for them. They certainly know what is expected of them, and they know they are hurting you. No one should have to put up with such vengeful spite.

I wish there was some magic bullet I could get you that would solve the problem. Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game. They will continue taunting you until they get caught and face some consequences or until you show them that it’s a waste of their time. That means ignoring them, the hardest thing anyone could do in such a situation.

But know this: you are not stupid. I told you that in person, and I’m know you didn’t believe me. And I know that me telling you does little compared to me showing you that I believe you’re intelligent. “Show, don’t tell,” I tell you guys about your writing, and I will try to do the same thing for you. Still, it bears repeating, even if it’s not the most effective way of communicating it to you: You’re not stupid. You are an intelligent young lady, and I’m honored that you’re in my class.

Sincerely,
Your Teacher in Room 302

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