With the new school year quickly approaching, and a group of students I taught as sixth and eighth graders about to begin their senior year, I have been thinking about what I hope I have taught them. In sixth grade, I read a chapter from a novel aloud to them each day, and I vividly recall the days when they would beg me to read one more chapter so they could find out what happened. I hope that those stories inspired at least a few of them to continue to read books.
I hope that through Number the Stars in sixth grade, they began to understand how young people can exhibit bravery and accomplish great things. Through Bud, Not Buddy, I hope they realized the struggles that some children face and that through Walk Two Moons they got a glimpse of what it would be like to travel through the Badlands (and that they enjoyed a surprising mystery along the way).
Each of these stories (along with the many others we read together) was chosen for a purpose, and I hope as we studied them together that I was able to teach them to recognize figurative language and to use it appropriately. I hope I helped them understand the tools of persuasion that will be used all around them in life so that they know to seek the truth rather than to believe everything they hear.
As they prepare this year to leave our school and move forward with the next chapters of their lives, though, I can’t help but hope I taught them that there is more to learn than what is in the curriculum. I hope I taught them these 25 things…
- Every single one of you is special and has something of value to contribute to the world.
- You can learn – even if your learning does not look the same as those around you.
- Sometimes life will not go your way, but you alone determine your reaction to the situation.
- There is more to life than your income.
- Choosing happiness in the midst of a challenging situation is extremely powerful.
- Sometimes the best way to show your intelligence is to know when not to speak.
- Every argument cannot be won – even if you are correct.
- Never store the key to your happiness on someone else’s keychain.
- Teachers really do want you to succeed.
- The fact that I do not allow you to break the rules does not mean that I don’t like you. It means that I do like you and I want you to learn to follow the rules so that you will stay out of trouble later in life.
- A big smile and a pleasant attitude will take you far in life.
- Grammar and spelling do matter.
- Problems at home do not define you.
- Giving your best effort at all times is not as tough as it sounds.
- Hard work beats talent when those with the talent choose not to put forth any effort.
- Following these two simple commands will lead you to success : Work hard. Be nice.
- People will remember your attitude more than your intelligence.
- Smile as much as possible, even when you don’t feel like it.
- Consider the effects of your words before you speak them.
- Always do your best, even if you don’t receive credit.
- Be stronger than your excuses.
- Don’t compromise the things you want most in life for the things you want now.
- It is not going to be easy. Once you accept that, you will get a lot more accomplished.
- Ignore those who talk about you. If you are not being criticized, you probably are not doing anything that matters.
- You have the option every single day to choose to be happy.