High Five: What the Class of 2018 Taught Me

As always, I learn just as much, if not more, than my students do each year. Here are the top five things the Class of 2018 taught me this year.

Slow steady work pays off

This is what I have learned about writing and about life; hard work pays off everytime. I have had some students who have worked hard, showing up for every class, revising every essay, and completing all reading assignments. Remember this story? “The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time. The race is not always to the swift.” Intellect, charisma, and talent are no match to hard work, and I love that so many in the Class of 2018 have already learned this life lesson.

Competition can be healthy

The Class of 2018 is a competitive group bringing in over 1,000,000 in scholarships. But the interesting thing about this group of students is that for the most part they push themselves hard to do well and achieve milestones (no pun intended), yet they whole heartily cheer on their friends and fellow students who they are “competing” against. I have loved watching this group bring out the best in each other and encourage one another – something not witnessed in today’s society enough.

Learning, laughing, and chaos go hand in hand

The Class of 2018 has been one of my hardest working classes and most fun classes I have ever taught (they remind me a lot of the Class of 2016). These kids can go from laughing about pop culture (things I am far too old to understand) to silence in order to focus on reading or writing on a dime. This class has reaffirmed to me that learning can and should be fun and interactive, and while this may look chaotic to a bystander on any given day, we are actually making gains in our thinking. 

Students aren’t waiting until adulthood to make a difference

I love that so many of my students are not waiting until they have college degrees in hand to use their influence and make a difference. Robyn Clarke raised money and awareness for the Tim Tebow Foundation through her blog. Peter Bucci’s and another teen write the Syrian War Daily and send daily updates about the Syrian War. Lauren Haggert worked to organize a school walkout for safety, protested in the March for Our Lives, and organized voter registration at our school during lunch signing up approximately 50 student voters. These are just a few examples but the reality is that many students are doing community service and making a difference on a daily basis in society. I pray that many adults will follow in the footsteps of these students. 

At the end of the day, kids lives are not just about school

In the ultimate bring your daughter to work day, having my own child in class this year gave me the unique opportunity to see students through the eyes of both a teacher and a parent. Teachers know that students have more to their lives than English and math, but at the same time it’s easy for me to get into my English world and lose sight that students have other classes, jobs, clubs, friends, and families. Literally seeing one of my students come in from schooI, go to work, and then come home and study reminded me of how much kids are balancing. I knew my daughter was on the fourth day of battling a cold teetering the line of not sick enough to say home but certainly feeling too bad to think clearly was in my thoughts as I passed out papers on exam day and I could assume other students were not at their best due to either physical, social or emotional stress.  

Extra Credit Observation: Students Love CoffeeAn

Oh the Places They’ll Go – Fly High, Class of 2018! 

And that’s a wrap on another year.

Class of 2018 – you know I’m proud of you and love you!

Class of 2019 – I’m getting ready for you now!

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