Listen to “How Teachers Can Make Us Feel Safe” on This Teenage Life
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What is a “comfort teacher”? Teens have many ways of talking about the teachers they can confide in and talk to when times are hard. Whether they’re called “mentors” or “safe adults,” these educators have a few things in common according to the teens featured in this latest episode of the podcast This Teenage Life.
“Safe” teachers are the ones who notice something’s off and ask, “Are you okay?” They’re the adults teens can turn to at school when they’re having a tough day, people they can be vulnerable with or cry in front of. They never make a student feel shame. They let them know they’ve “been there” too, and they’re not afraid to reveal their own vulnerabilities.
But we also hear why the students say boundaries are needed. One teen says it’s inappropriate to “trauma dump” on students and to share too much in an effort to make a connection. Producer Molly Josephs—a high school teacher in New York City—also talks to some of her former students and a teacher at her old high school who made her feel safe. His advice: view students first and foremost as human beings who bring at least three of four prior experiences with them whenever they enter a classroom.
This Teenage Life is a podcast that gives students space to talk about whatever is on their minds. Some episodes have dealt with finding your style, crushes, acne, sibling rivalry, and mental health challenges. But the core group of teens who craft these episodes also spend a lot of time thinking about the place where they spend so many of their waking hours: school.
At XQ, we value youth voice and choice. It’s one of our design principles for rethinking how to make better high schools. We’re proud to sponsor TTL because we believe listening to students helps educators foster another design principle: caring, trusting relationships. When teens feel valued, they can also thrive in school—putting them on the path to success in college or careers.
We believe conversations like these are important for educators to hear if they’re to fully appreciate their students and help them reach their full potential. Enjoy this latest episode sponsored by XQ.
Listen to previous TTL episodes dealing with high school, sponsored by XQ:
Listen to “Academic Pressure,” on This Teenage Life
Listen to “Making Friends” on This Teenage Life
Listen to How Teachers Can Help Students Feel Seen on “This Teenage Life”
Listen to Teens Discuss What Mattered Most to Them in High School Classes
How the Pandemic Changed Us: High Schoolers Share Their Perspectives
Listen: Dealing with Transitions, Like Starting High School
Art by Cloe Moreno, provided by This Teenage Life