That’s right, middle school. You remember those years and your teachers, even if you pretend to have selective amnesia. You do know I taught junior high, or middle school as some call it, for almost five years, right?
Me + 36 teenagers + 5 years – Sleep = More life lessons than you can imagine
As I prepare to speak at the women’s panel for Pictage at WPPI 2010 in Vegas, my thoughts have returned to those years of teaching and the lessons I learned. I thought I’d share them with you, because unless we learn the lessons, we just keep repeating them. And who wants to spend the rest of their life repeating junior high?
Lesson 1: Don’t get too comfortable.
One day you can be in the popular crowd thinking life is grand. The next moment you’re an outcast making amends with the kids you previously tormented. Don’t get too comfortable where you are because it could all change in a moment.
Lesson 2: Listen to your gym teacher.
In gym every day, we had to do stretches, cherry pickers, and running the mile. Since everything is constantly changing, you must be flexible and quick on your feet. Assuming things will remain static, either for good or bad, leaves you unprepared for the inevitable change that will come your way. Teens often don’t have enough life experience or perspective to realize this, which is why everything is a crisis. Listen to your gym teacher, do your stretches and be prepared to bend, not break when the winds of change come your way.
Lesson 3: Do your homework.
As much as we all wish we could be known for our best intentions, it’s just not the case. We are known by our actions. In junior high, if you have a new girlfriend every week, you’re establishing yourself as a player… if you always do your homework, you’re establishing yourself as studious. Decide what you want to be known for and do it… consistently.
Lesson 4: Eat your breakfast.
Literally. My students who thought it was cool to not eat breakfast either fell asleep from exhaustion or got so snarky they were put in time out. Figuratively. Don’t forget to feed yourself what you need to keep going. This is absolutely critical for creatives… make sure you’ve filled up before you go out into the world.
Lesson 5: Choose your friends wisely.
Experts say your future and your success are largely determined by the people you surround yourself with. Nowhere is that more clearly seen than in junior high. One person in a group makes a bad choice and takes down three other unsuspecting “friends.” Consider whether your friends inspire and motivate you to be better, or to focus on things that are either unimportant or damaging to your esteem. Then be willing to make the hard choices to rid yourself of people who bring you down.
There you have it. A journey back into the recesses of your mind to remember the lessons you learned in junior high. Put them in practice today and watch yourself graduate into a whole new world! What other lessons would you add? Any funny stories from your junior high years you want to share? Come on… you know you do.
Image of the Day: These two shots are of a model classroom I built while getting my Master’s degree in Education. Fun, huh? I had to represent how I would set up my classroom to be inclusive and conducive for education. The crazy thing is that when I got my first classroom, I set it up almost identical to this model. Goes to show the power of pre-planning and preparation!
Manual: Page 106
Images: WPPI 2010 Faces Competition