Sometimes the lessons we learn don’t come from the textbook. Looking back on the group of students that just completed their 8th grade year, I realize they taught me several lessons.
During the graduation ceremony, every teacher commented on what a distinct pleasure these students were to work with. We all recognized that this group has something a little extra- CLASS. These students know how to live and learn well.
5 lessons in living well, courtesy of the 8th grade class of 2015:
Our society is beginning to overflow with individuals who feel entitled and believe the world should be handed to them on a silver platter. The class of 2015 stood out because the culture of the class encouraged hard work. These students did not complain about work; they attacked it.
They did not expect to receive high grades or praise without putting in the effort. I had many students do assignments again because an 85 was not good enough. There was no complaint about the grade, just another attempt turned in.
Work hard for what you want in life.
When time was allotted for celebration or play; this class embraced the opportunity. We tore up practice workbooks after the final test, and we ate Chipotle and watched The Outsiders after reading the book.
With every opportunity, they sang, danced, laughed, and enjoyed the moment. Life can be tiring and stressful. It can be difficult to let your hair down and relax, but it is important to take the time to celebrate.
With every opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, these students created unique and impressive projects. None of them tried to be like the others. They did not worry about what others would think or try to mimic the success of others. They each made their own way.
Don’t be afraid to be different or make your own path.
When most people think of middle school, they think of a terrifying time in which every misstep could cause you to be picked on relentlessly. However, this class was not afraid to be different because they gave each other room for growth. Although there was some of your typical middle school teasing, the overwhelming sense of this group was acceptance. They made mistakes, looked goofy, had crushes, and wore crazy outfits without being made to feel that there was something wrong with them.
Give yourself and others room to grow.
I asked students to write their favorite memories from English class. I expected them all to choose similar things. I was surprised by the wide variety of responses. Almost everything we did in class was mentioned, from review games and major projects to food in class and the day I gave students half a class period to ask me questions about my own life.
Their responses to my request for favorite memories were a great reminder that everything you do matters. People notice what you do and how you treat them. Just as what I did mattered, what they did mattered too. They reminded me that there are people in the world who are genuinely good and that the future is bright.
Thank you, class of 2015!