Home » About Us » Blog » Straight from the source: Youth perspectives on connecting with students, supporting learning, and confronting reality

Straight from the source: Youth perspectives on connecting with students, supporting learning, and confronting reality

17 December 2020 |

Joshua Rodriguez
11th Grade
Rochester City School District

Joshua, how could adults show you that you matter?

They could show more interest in the things that they care about and help me along with it. It also helps when adults don’t dismiss what I am saying and take what I have to say seriously. By showing more interest they are able to connect with me on a more personal level. Like they actually understand me and they have taken an interest in me. They are more like a friend and treat me with more respect because we know each other more and have a lot more respect for one another.

Let’s talk about respect. What does it look like for an adult to treat with you respect? How does culture influence respect?

Adults treat me with respect when they listen to me and are able to support my beliefs. They take the time to talk to me and listen to what I am saying. Depending on where you grew up and how the adult you are talking to grew up, they will listen to you or will dismiss what you are talking about. For the teachers that don't live in the city they don't know how to talk to the kids that need support. They don't know how to talk to them and sometimes make the situation worse and put more stress on the youth. They act like they get what we are going through but they truly don't.

What are some ways adults honor your voice and your identity?

My parents often ask me about my opinions about things concerning me or not and include me in conversations about things that will hold a large change in my life. My parents listen to what I say and take what I say into consideration. They are always accepting of things I decide to do and very supportive of my decisions. My parents will listen to what I have to say but other parents won't listen to their child and dismiss what they are saying. Adults should acknowledge what you need.


Responses by AmmaZia Evans-David
10th Grade
Rochester City School District

AmmaZia, what does it look like for an adult to treat with you respect? How does culture influence respect?

When it comes to respect in schools between the teacher and students, I feel that many times it is overlooked and not really brought up. I remember in one of my classes me and my teacher regularly did not get along, one day when we had a disagreement I asked why is it that I'm always the only one seen as being disrespectful when we are both not showing respect to each other. When I asked that question they did not respond and it made me think most of my teachers are like that when they scold us they often bring up how “kids need to respect adults” but I never hear them say how it's a two-way street. If a teacher has that type of mentality of how students should act, then that will create a toxic class environment because now you are using your age to dismiss the fact that respect should be given to all. What needs to be realized is at the end of the day, students can’t come in with a ready-to-learn attitude when they don't feel respected. Coming together and creating rules or a cooperative agreement that you and your class make can let everyone know that these are the class norms that we all came up with instead of teachers making a list of rules that students have to follow. It lets everyone put in their ideas of how they can run the class to make the environment better.

Now let’s talk about lived experiences. How do people with different life experiences, race/class/gender/socioeconomic status, connect and develop a relationship with each other?

In the classroom, I think it is very important that teachers get an understanding of what their students experience out of school mentally and physically will affect how they act and perform in their school environment. Many of the teachers that work in the city of Rochester that I know do not live here, so they may see the different events good or bad on the news but will not know how it affects us because they do not experience it firsthand. Each student has a different background they come from. We all have our own issues some worse than others as the majority of us being apart of the POC (people of color) community it gets tough to try to juggle the different identities we form from when we’re in school. Not having people adults and teachers who look like you or relate to the environment where you’re growing up can make it hard for you to want to share with an adult at school about things that may be troubling you. Sometimes it's not taken into account why we may have an attitude at something that was said while you were teaching because it could've been offensive to one of your students, especially if you have a very diverse class. Students may not feel comfortable enough to speak up about it because what you and your students experience outside of school may be different. Teachers should be willing to listen and gain an understanding so students are able to vent about those issues. When this happens, students will know you genuinely care about them not only their performance in school but also their wellbeing.

What are some ways adults honor your voice and your identity?

As youth, a lot of times we may share problems that we may have with the adults in our schools but oftentimes it feels like our problems are not actually being heard. I think this creates a barrier between the groups and makes students feel uncomfortable expressing themselves and what they feel. If a student asks a question or voices their opinion on how things are going in class or outside of it and they are never answered, to them it's going to feel like you've disregarded what they asked or you simply just swept it under the rug. I understand that there are lots of students that teachers see each day depending on what they teach so it may take some time to get back to a student. But even letting your students know that yes I have seen your request it may take a little bit of time for me to reply but just know that I haven't ignored you. This approach is better than to just completely wonder whether you actually care or not, the little things can give someone reassurance that you genuinely care about issues that they have spoken up about.

Share on