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I like to remind them of a few things:
- Big picture about SAT and how many times they need to take it to get to their best performance (about 5, I've seen, starting in their freshman year to learn how to take the test.)
- The difference between top tier colleges and others and how they should shoot for the best that they can get into and then if they fall short, they're still in good shape.
- To talk to parents and family about plans for the future while they are hanging out.
- To make wise choices, hang out with good people and that it is better to walk away from a friend than to walk away from their future. (See Sometimes a teacher's gotta preach.)
- That I love them and have as my goal to help each of them find something that they are incredibly good at doing.
- That sometimes we have to do things we don't like to get the great things in life but that we also need to take a break and recharge sometimes.
Yes, these things are teacher-y. Remember, some students don't hear this at home.
I had a principal in high school who I loved. He took the whole school and had us all watch Cool Hand Luke over a 4 week period (a Tuesday assembly of 30 minutes each Tuesday) to talk about how just a small dumb thing can ruin your whole life. He told us to watch the small indiscretions because those turned into big life changing things all too easily, especially when alcohol is involved. (Cool Hand Luke was locked up for smashing parking meters during a drunken night and ended up dying in a failed prison escape.)
I remember that lesson. I remember what he said. He said a lot. I probably have forgotten most of it but I haven't forgotten the fact that he told us what we needed to hear even when we didn't want to hear it.
I want to be that Jimminy Cricket conscience for my students. Even when they don't like it.
Take time to say what they need to hear, in love. Even if they make fun of you.. You're not in your classroom to be popular, you're there to shape the future. Society tomorrow will reap what we sow in our classrooms today. Plant the seeds of character and good choices and use the fact that the kids know you love them to say what they need to hear.
Remember your noble calling, teacher.