English Teachers: How Are You Helping Your Students Follow Through?

Drake Follow Through

Every once in a while, I’ll see a post on Twitter by a teacher that speaks to who we are as English teachers and how we impact our kids.

I first saw this conversation back in June when a teacher in my Twitter PLC retweeted it, and it made me think: In what ways am I intentionally supporting my students?

As an English teacher, we are uniquely gifted with a opportunities to listen to our students as we read literature — both what we recommend and what our students choose. We are gifted with the opportunity to read what are students write, particularly when we provide them with opportunities to write about what they know, to share with the world what is on their minds and in their hearts.


This is a great responsibility. I tell my students that anyone who has ever been my student will always be one of my kids. This means that I have a responsibility to encourage them, to help them see who they are and their potential, even after they’ve left my class.

Some students I’ll never hear from again. Some will message me a year later and tell me that I helped them stay in school. Others will ask for help with papers they’ve been assigned in other English teacher’s classes. Some I’ll find through other students and be happy knowing that they’re out their living their lives and that they’re OK.

Some, I’ll have the chance to encourage when they post updates about their lives.

Even famous television producers are contributing to the conversation and encouraging others to support teachers. Notice, he met with his old English teacher. *insert grin emoji*

All that said, one of the most important things we can do as English teachers is encourage our students to never give up. I’ve worked with kids who’ve suffered injuries on the sports field, kids whose families have broken up, kids whose academic careers were in jeopardy, kids whose friends rejected them, kids whose parents weren’t treating them right, and more.

We often find ourselves not just serving as English teachers, but as counselors, coaches, and mentors. Students sit in our classes at lunch to get away from the madness of high school or just talk to us. Students finish their work in other classes and join ours to have a space where it is safe to exist. 


Perhaps we just need to listen. Maybe we need to provide a safe space or an encouraging words. Or maybe we need to show up with our tool box of ELA skills and make sure a former student knows how to use them. 

Whatever it is that our kids need, we need to help them follow Drake’s advice and follow through, whether it’s swinging a bat, getting a job, or graduating from high school.


Related topics: Student Success

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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