This isn't a post about my own children yet that doesn't negate the fact that, yes, this is what I've told them as well. It's what happens when your momma is prone to giving extemporaneous speeches and advice to her students. She practices on her own children first.
It's not even a stretch to use the phrase "my kids" when talking about my students. I use that phrase a lot. If I see them out in public at the park or going to a movie I will point them out to my family. "Those are my kids." Only once when I was at the mall and one of my students (this was years ago when I even went to the mall) was getting sassy with a stranger and I happened to be walking by her did I intervene. I have a hard time turning off the Administrator/Boss Lady title.
"Hey, get that saucy look off your face. Why are you talking to him like that?"
"He walked right in front of me!"
"Excuse me is what you were looking for," I said to him. To her, "That wasn't hard."
But, I've been known to correct other people's children as well. I don't mean to step out of bounds but what I notice is that many adults don't like correcting other people's children when they're strangers. Apparently, I don't know one. My own children are convinced that some day I'll get flack for that but it has yet to happen.
"We don't run here. See all the other people? Pay attention. You're not the only one here."
This post isn't about how I overstep those bounds. It's actually how I stay in my lane.
During our final Moving Up ceremony to send off our 8th graders, I get to speak at the beginning to welcome parents and friends who have come to celebrate with us. I also get to create an entirely new speech each year even though this one might get re-used. (Students who happen to be reading this: You'll forget this by the time you're an 8th grader of mine. I promise.)
This year, I worked with a student who was giving a speech as well and we gave the same bullet-pointed outline with different advice. Here's what I told my kids:
You've had three full years with me so you know me pretty well by now. Some of you can even do a pretty good impersonation of me. I don't mind. But, here's the thing: if you haven't been paying attention you might have missed some of the advice I have for you. So, this is the last bit you'll get from me and I want you to lean in closely to hear it. Because, if you miss this, then that's it for you. You get no more from me in the advice department. Ready?
My students took this very well because they're used to me and I noticed more than a few who physically leaned in and nodded their heads at me especially if they spent an inordinate amount of time in my office to deal with issues.
I have just 5 more things to teach you before you go off into the great, big world. It's scary out there but you can make it. These are five things I've learned that I wish I knew.
First, pick really good friends. That's crucial. You have to find your tribe and sometimes it will take you longer than you want, but they're out there. They'll tell you about yourself and you'll be reflective and introspective and maybe make some changes for the better. They'll also help you laugh at yourself. I laugh at myself all the time. Here's an example: this morning as I was getting ready and picking out a nice dress and earrings and putting my hair up I was wondering what sandals would go with this outfit as I stood before you. I wanted to look nice for this special occasion. But, my dog decided she didn't like the rain and would sneak around to the carpet to pee on so I had to put on a pair of flip-flops to usher her out the back door. She gave me a run for my money this morning and I got so engulfed with her that I left the house without changing my shoes.
At this point, I stepped away from the podium so the kids and parents could see my feet.
I forgot to change and even though there's an extra pair of shoes in my office I forgot to change. So, I'm just going to laugh at myself. I'm so silly and I just roll my eyes at myself when I mess up. THAT IS A GOOD PRACTICE TO HAVE.
After the ceremony when students wanted to take a picture of me, every single parent backed up or zoomed their cameras out to get my ugly shoes. I accommodated them because WHY NOT? It's a minor thing and the world didn't end. THIS IS MY LANE.
Second, get to know your teachers. You're going to have about 60 of them throughout your high school career. They're people. They go home and have dinner with their families and they are the experts in their field. They'll make mistakes, sure, but they're people and you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that they're fairly reasonable human beings. Ask them about their lives and get to really know them.
Number three, become an organized person whatever that means for you. Students who do really well at school know how to schedule themselves and all their activities. They keep an agenda or calendar or even their phone to remind them of things. Of course, if I weren't organized I wouldn't have an extra pair of sandals in my office even though I forgot to put them on BUT THIS ISN'T ABOUT THAT, OKAY? Trust me, keep your life organized so you can meet your goals.
Four: don't be afraid to try something new. You never know what you'll be good at until you try it so you may find yourself in high school ready to join a new club or do a new activity. THIS IS THE TIME FOR THAT. Try it out, you may be really good at it or learn something about yourself that you previously didn't know. You know what I tried and didn't do so until my 30s? Writing. I realized that I was pretty good at it when previously I thought that it was something you did for your English teacher to mark up in red pen. That's not entirely true. Become your own storyteller and chronicle the life you're living.
Finally, and this one goes with the theme of our school as a technology magnet as well as the last one I just mentioned: technology is important and awesome. Some of you will have jobs in tech that aren't even invented yet. Invent it! Take what you've learned and move it to the next level. You have all these fantastic apps and programs to do amazing things. Use it to tell your story and teach others. Use it to connect to other people or fix a developing world problem or just to do COOL. STUFF. Go on and do cool stuff. Make the art. Tell the story. Be the best version of yourself and use technology if you can.
Pay attention, kids. Don't miss the good stuff. Go on out there and do great things, okay?