15 September 2013


It has been a great first week with my young friends: I already have a novel draft, 30 college essays, an Eagle Scout narrative and a new list of anime enthusiasts on my desk. What these students give to me is themselves, and I am humbled by it. But I am always struck by the intensity of this first week, with that sea of faces that is just beginning to transform into my cherished family for 2013-2014. They challenge me to care, to make strong connections with them, and as in any relationship, the beginning is fragile.

It reminds me how desperately fragile teen-dom is. First week always reminds me that every one of them deserves my full attention, deserves to be looked at with wonder. Even though they are adults, which I am reminded of every time I look up, way up, to talk with someone, they are still in need of my experience, my confidence and my trust. Somebody needs to consider that child to be the most important, beautiful thing they have ever seen for at least a minute, every day. I looked around my classroom this week and saw some faces sad, overwhelmed, distracted. I can see that they do not know how seriously cool they are. No one has told them how cool they are.

Each of them is one of kind, so perfect: but they label themselves, and we label them too (I've done it, I know). Sometimes they judge each other instead of chanting "vive la difference" (this phrase came up in one class this week). I don't care if he talks too loud in social situations or she does not wear the right makeup or he doesn't do "enough activities" or the backpack is uncool. Most of my students are just trying to get through the day, like me.  To my students: I am honored to witness  your grit, your beauty, your  imagination, your self-reliance, your sweetness, your brains, your laugh, your humility, your love for your friends, your heart and your soul. Even if I don't always say it. Let's do this.

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