Let’s hear what you have to say

Let's hear what you have to say

Teachers, I want to know what you want to talk about, not what you have to talk about. Teach me about that niche subject matter that causes you heartbreak when you think about how it’s excluded from your syllabus. What would you say to a room full of high school students whom you don’t have to grade or assess?

I’m challenging you – if you were given 15 minutes to talk to me and my peers about any subject, what would you say?

We have the privilege of being taught by amazing teachers. And no, don’t worry, you are not about to endure 600 words of me kissing up to my teachers. In fact, this article is as much about the teachers that I don’t, or won’t have, as it is about those that I do.

There’s no denying it, everyone has a favorite teacher. Whether it’s a math teacher who finally explained a real-world application that was actually practical in your life, an English teacher who helped you find your favorite author, or the social studies teacher with who you constantly debate politics after class.

Yet, you may never have had the pleasure of being able to sit in the classrooms of my favorite teachers and have the same experiences as me. The same is true vice versa: There is a good chance I may not even have held a conversation with that teacher who you are so inspired by. I want to change that.

I propose that teachers are given the opportunity to hold lunch and conference time seminars on topics of their choice. These sessions would run on a sign-up basis as a way of gauging interest levels to ensure that a teacher doesn’t end up speaking to an empty room.

Multiple teachers could hold back-to-back sessions; each teacher talking for as short or as long as he or she wants.

The “Race as a Social Construct” breakout session that I attending during Aequitas day last month was a fantastic example of teachers collaborating to give a presentation about a topic they’re passionate about.

There is a multitude of passionate teachers at ASL, and it scares me that the closest engagement I may have with some is passing them in the hallway. I want to be able to experience the genius of those teachers that my peers rave about, and I want you to be able to experience the greatness of those that I rave about.

These seminars would not be extremely structured: Teachers having no obligation to hold one. It would operate on a voluntary basis, thus, presentations and sessions on topics that teachers are authentically passionate about.

By no means do these seminars need to be of a serious or scholarly nature – however, those that are would be welcomed. A teacher could stand up and talk about leading stem-cell research, or they could discuss the history of rap music. Someone could discuss their all-time favorite song, dissecting it and explaining why they can’t listen to it without dancing, whether it’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “Rapper’s Delight.”

Why limit it to one teacher’s bias? Sessions could consist of two or more teachers engaging in an organic debate over a topic they disagree on.

At the same time, this doesn’t need to be exclusive for High School teachers. If there is are Lower or Middle School teachers that are yearning to speak to a room of high schoolers, I would love to hear what they have to say.

But, how do you ensure that students actually show up? I’ll answer that question with a question of my own: Do you really want those friends of your who attended to tell you those fateful words:  “You had to be there”?