One of my teacher interns at San Francisco State University wrote a paper a few years ago that reminded me of what I occasionally missed as a teacher, says Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University, for the Washington Post. The interns had been assigned to write a letter to their high school teachers advising them about how they might have better served them as students. My student, Rich DeNagel, wrote:

“Ninth grade was probably the worst year of my life. My home life was in shambles, and I was totally checked out of school. I was the quiet kid who showed up and never said a word. I had no ability to focus. Midway through the school year, my sister died. After that I spun into outer space. I felt so alone. I just wanted to talk to someone, anyone. I still showed up to school but nothing happened. My home life deteriorated further the next years, and the feeling of isolation increased. School was a refuge from home, yet I felt alone at school. I was again the quiet kid who sat in class, doing and saying nothing. No one noticed…”

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