24" x 36" Poster

                     A Letter to My Students

by Frank Trujillo

"There are some things that I feel very strongly about as a teacher that I want to share with you. After all, you are the most important person in this classroom. Only with your help will we be successful. You are the reason we are here. I am not expecting you to understand everything I’ve written. But if you can get a feel for what it is that I am trying to do as your teacher, then I know we can be successful on your behalf.

After you read this, I believe you will understand more about me and about why I am a teacher. You have a right to know about how and why I teach as well as what I expect and why. It is entirely likely that you are here because education is compulsory—you are required to be here. However, I am here by choice. I elected to become a teacher because I wanted to work with young people. You and I both know that only the brave and daring would do something like that! I chose to teach! I am here because I want to be here. We must make our time together worthwhile. To do so, I will need your help. There is so much to share and so little time. And all too frequent are the distractions and interruptions. Let’s keep busy and spend wisely what little time we are given. Let’s make every minute count! …

Our worst enemies are ignorance, indifference, and apathy. Learning is not something that is done by someone else to you or for you. Learning is not a spectator sport! It is very hard to determine what is important for you to learn and what is necessary for me to teach. Just like a tiny child must first learn to walk and then run, so too are some things that seem unimportant at the time most critical to your development as a person. Knowing that it is difficult, I promise to ask, ‘What I am teaching…is it something worth our investment in time? Is it worth knowing?’ Help me ask, ‘Is this worth knowing?’ I insist that you learn the subject matter. I want you to grow. But it is equally important to me that you depart feeling like a real human being, knowing that you’ve developed critical thinking skills that can be nurtured the rest of your life. The most useful of all learning is to have learned how to learn. Learn how to learn.

It is you who must make a commitment to learn. The ultimate responsibility for learning is yours. No one can do it for you. Learning is like breathing—you’ve got to do it on your own! Thinking is not something that you should ever rely on anyone else to do for you. In this classroom, we live by what can be called the principle of habeas mentem, the right of each individual to his own mind. You have a right to your own mind! I have a right to insist that you use it! You are just as capable as anyone else! You can accomplish academically what you decide to accomplish. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. …

Give learning a chance, will you? Someone once said something that I very much agree with: The mind must be consulted in its own development. I pledge to work with you in your continuing development as a human being. Leave yourself open to consultation.

These are difficult times. We both know that. But I want you to know that I know how difficult it is to be growing up in today’s world. Just tune in to the nightly news any evening and you know what I mean. The world is pretty complex these days. And your generation is having a harder time of things than perhaps any other generation during modern times. I know it. You feel it. I can do so very little to change the national or world situation…and I can’t do much about your home environment. In those matters I have little control. But in our classroom I can make all the difference in the world! That is, with your help I can. We can do a great deal together to help one another out. Let’s be there for one another—let’s lend a hand.

Every person is unique. Represented here are individuals of virtually every nationality, race, creed, ethnicity, and political persuasion. And that is good! Each of us is an important part of the beautiful mixture that is America. Each of us can take pride in what we are and who we are. Your roots are good roots, just as good as anyone else’s! They don’t make bad ones! But it’s good to make absolutely sure that your roots are planted in rich soil! Rich soil makes for stronger roots!

Be proud…inside and out! Although I will not always succeed, I will attempt always to let fairness and concern for the dignity of each human being to influence my behavior in the classroom. What makes a class a good class is the sense of equal belonging. I believe in equality of responsibility just as much as I believe in equality of educational opportunity. …

… You get out of life exactly what you put into it. No more. No less. You get out of something what you put into it. Let’s all take what we are doing in this classroom very seriously. But let’s have a good time, too! I will ask you to work hard and I will expect you to work hard. But we should play just as hard! It is, after all, a short life. To the degree possible, we should strive to be happy. You will be as happy as you decide to be. And finally (should I risk writing this?) in our classroom, dare we acknowledge that if there is to be a better future, we need to help one another today; might we dare to reach out and love one another? Dare to care. There, I’ve said what I wanted to say. But there is so much more inside of me that I cannot communicate, that words cannot express. You won’t understand this the first time through, so read it often. Perhaps someday—maybe even years and years from now—some of what I’ve shared will make sense to you. For now, just know that you’ve got a teacher who cares, really cares, about you and about your future.


Your teacher"


People are talking

…and here is what they’re saying



            “I would like to order several copies of the poster ‘A Letter to My Students.’  Please send me a price sheet.  This is one of the very best posters ever for teachers.”


Teacher, Walnut Creek, California



            “I am a teacher at a middle school, where I saw a poster titled, ‘A Letter to My Students’  (copyright 1987, Francis Xavier Trujillo, Ed.D.;  approximately 2 x 3 feet).  I really liked its message, and I would like to have one for my classroom.”


Teacher, Acworth, Georgia



            “During mid-winter break, when I was in San Francisco, I purchased a poster called ‘A Letter to My Students.’  Several of our staff were very impressed with this poster and were wondering if you have a catalogue of your publications…”


Co-op Co-ordinator, Bradford, Ontario, Canada



            “As a vocational counselor, I have the opportunity to visit various of the local secondary schools.  In those visits I have frequently noticed the poster entitled ‘A Letter to My Students.’  I would very much like to have some of these posters.”


Counselor, Bradenton, Florida


A Letter to My Students (excerpt) © 1987 Frank Trujillo

Available as a 24" x 36" poster. No part of this writing may be reproduced

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