You don’t know me

You watched me come to your class just like any other student. You greeted me with a warm smile and caring eyes. You asked me to have a seat in your inviting classroom. I watched you speak words I didn’t understand. I watched as the other students raised their hands to question your words. I sat in the cold seat as the minutes went by like hours. I heard you call my name, and I waited for you to ask me, who I was.

You don’t know the painstaking ordeal it took for me to get here this morning. You don’t know how it feels to wake up in the dark or the fear in my heart when I have to wait for the bus. You don’t know that I have no umbrella, or why my clothes are wet and unkempt when I enter your class. You think I can’t feel your disappointment in me.

You don’t know I am grateful that I have an opportunity to learn. You don’t know that despite my appearance, my color, my imperfections, I choose to look beyond your quizzical gaze.

You don’t know that last night’s cold dinner was from the dumpster outside that fancy restaurant, the one near the bridge where we sleep.

You probably wonder why I stare at you as you eat in front of the class. You don’t know the noise in my stomach is because I didn’t have enough change in my pocket for breakfast this morning.

You don’t know why I come to your class half-asleep. You don’t know how uncomfortable it is for three people to sleep in a car, to sleep with one eye open, just in case.

You don’t know how lucky I feel that, at least, we have a car.

You don’t know I am listening, I do care, and I do want to learn.

You don’t know the tremendous courage it takes to raise my hand to answer your questions. You don’t know the last time I was in a classroom and how they ridiculed me for not pronouncing the words correctly.

You don’t know that in your classroom, I am the luckiest person in the world.

You don’t know that I am your student.

-Submission by  Armando J. Gutierrez, Ed.D., The English Center

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8 thoughts on “You don’t know me

  1. Pingback: Working in Adult Literacy

  2. Dr. G. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your insightful view of students. I hope this is widely circulated as teachers, with their increasing challenges, sometimes need to be reminded that the student ( every student) needs to be their main focus.

  3. Dr. Gutierrez, it is wonderful how you are able to capture the essence of the relationship between at-risk students and their teachers in such a precise manner. This essay is a thought provoking message for all educators and I truly believe that all of us need to read it as a reminder of our students’ struggles beyond the classroom walls.

  4. Pingback: Working in Adult Literacy

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