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An Open Letter To An Absent Teacher! - Leslie Salazar, 17

I get it, many students are bad, disrespectful, and simply don't care! Some sleep, text, talk, and daydream while you try to prepare them for the future. I can see it; it’s hard to be a teacher now-a-days, but what about some of us that do care? What about us that do care about changing the world? Even if it were just a few, would it matter that some of us really want to learn something interesting, cool, or useful? Here’s the worst part you’re not the only one. My friends and I know exactly which teachers want to teach, and which are absent, even if they’re still there talking in front of the classroom. Some teachers tell us to read and do real assignments because they care about us learning, even the hard stuff. The absent teachers tell us to read and do bogus assignments to keep us busy. We can tell the difference! Do you still teach the same as you did when you first started teaching? Do you prepare, change it up, or just wing it. Do you do 100% from the book? It’s like you’re just talking, repeating what the book said.

For some reason, biology and chemistry interest me. These two subjects are about everything that we can’t see, but makes people and nature possible. I just found out the other day that biochemistry is a major in college. I couldn't believe it. Wow! My eyes lit up, amazed at the fact that I could learn about both at the same time. I don't want to be a doctor, but I would love to work in a lab where I can wear a white lab coat while trying to figure out why or how something happened in nature. When I’ve scene labs in movies they look so clean, white, calm, and like they’re doing important work. I’ve even gone to libraries to look at biology and chemistry books. Here’s the problem. The terms, drawings, and descriptions in those books looked so complicated. Most of it looked like giant webs with missing spiders. And I’m supposed to know and understand all of that on my own?

I can handle what I’ve seen in class so far, but it’s so overwhelming to see what’s coming my way when I see my absent teachers in the classroom. It’s like they teach and focus on the one’s that don't care. They teach the easy stuff because they already know that the majority of students won’t get the hard stuff. And as I said, I get that many students don't care, but what about the one’s that want to work in labs doing important work? What about the few that want to figure out the hard stuff? You know, to prepare us for the even harder stuff coming our way. I’ve talked to good teachers about teachers, but they tell me that there’s not much that they can do. It’s sad, but I get it. How do you tell a teacher that their students can easily see that they don't really care about teaching? How do you tell a teacher that they showed up, but are still absent?

Here’s what I do know. I’m willing to do my part. I’m willing to pay attention, study, and read. I’m willing to learn the hard stuff if you’re willing to teach it. I’m willing to think and care. Are you? I also know that I’m not going to let absent teachers stop me from doing important work in the future. I’m not sure what I want to do or be exactly, but I do know that I want to work in a lab. I know that I want a career that makes a difference. My teacher and counselor are in the process of getting me into AP classes. They say that it will make a big difference. I’m happy about this, but what about all my friends that I have to leave behind. What will happen to them?

~ Leslie Salazar, 17

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