When teachers make rude or mean comments

A letter to all teachers

Troubled woman
A snarky comment from a teacher can damage a student's self-esteem. Photo: Pexels

Dearest professors, study assistants and study coaches,

I am writing this letter to thank you for everything you have done and keep doing for us students. We are aware that being a teacher is not easy, that sometimes being a role model is a lot more stressful than one can imagine, and it is absolutely fair that sometimes you stress yourself out. 

As students, we do our best every day, exactly like you do, to be the smartest person in the room and learn as much as we can; but sadly, sometimes you say things that hurt. I am completely, extremely sure it is never your intention to hurt a student, and that one should learn to accept constructive criticism as much as possible. Nonetheless, I truly believe that, sometimes, depending on the situation and the student, sugarcoating would not be a bad idea. Each student has a past, a story which haunts them daily and they are trying to heal from it, and some of us even see university as a place to go to when life at home becomes too much and we need to get it off our shoulders. 

Again, I would like to stress that I am sure you do not say anything to hurt any of us intentionally, but sadly each one of the people in my university friend group has at least one rude/mean/heavy comment which still makes them overthink when handing in an essay or just answering a question in class. I have been told my English is really bad and I should drop out. My friend has been told that his grammar is so bad the teacher had no idea how he got admitted to university in the first place. Another friend of mine has been told that their depression is not an excuse for skipping class. I am sure you have the best intentions, and that you are trying to look out for us in your own way, but such comments really can ruin our entire perception of ourselves and our writing. 

It is not necessary to compliment students if their essays are bad, but constructive criticism and genuine feedback go a long way. My favourite teacher wrote very detailed feedback on an essay I was very proud of, and it made my day. Please, take your time to point out our mistakes. We want to learn. But emphasising a mistake is very different than adding a personal comment such as “you should drop out”. I actually considered dropping out for months after that comment and I felt like I could do nothing right in your eyes. Today, I got an 8 on an essay and realised I can achieve great things if my teacher is supportive enough. 

Kind regards,


P. S. Chamomille tee is amazing against stress.