Art

Hey, It’s been a while. And while I am preparing some great back to school posts on all my adventures with teaching, I am posting today to share something different with you. Art. My husband is a ridiculously talented artist, and he has created a facebook page. So, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DavidBarneyArt Like his page. Then if you like it, share it. When he gets enough likes, he will believe me that people care about art and maybe do a give-away.

I’ve added a sneak peak of his art below. This pic of Robert Downey Junior is mind-blowing.

You are welcome.

See you soon.

Michelle

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What I Need My Daughter to Know Today

 

Today, it hurts. Everything aches because you live in this horrible world of humans and that’s what humans do. They suffer and they make others suffer too. It’s one of the sad things about life: that we need to feel the bitter sadness in order to be filled up with joy. Here’s some things you may want to know when the good days seem far away.

1)      People suck. They are mean and cruel and selfish and oblivious. They will never treat you the way you deserve to be treated because they are too busy looking out for themselves. All people, even nice ones. We’re all selfish. We will all let you down at some point, not because we don’t love you. Not because you are not amazing. Because we are human, and humans are flawed.

2)      Getting revenge never feels as good as you think it will. Remember all those stupid humans that treated you poorly? Well, one day you are going to want to concoct a plan to make them pay. You’re going to want to make them hurt the way you hurt and cry the way you cry. Don’t. It won’t make you feel better, and seeing them hurt will make your hurt grow. Revenge is for idiots. I know. I’ve had my share of the dish best served cold. Only petty people take pleasure in making others feel bad. And here’s a secret: they do it because they feel despair that will not quit, and they don’t know what else to do. You know what makes sadness scurry away like a cockroach in the sunshine? Being nice, even to the jerks. That will make you feel better. Not some elaborate scheme. Trust me on this one.

3)      You either demand respect or tolerate mistreatment. are going to have to say things that are infinitely more difficult to get out of your mouth than you ever thought possible. You will be faced with a decision to stand up for yourself again and again and again. Do it. Do it even if it’s hard because the day you don’t is the day you broadcast to the world that it’s okay to treat you poorly. And it’s not. Not ever. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you have to do it because you are too awesome to get anything but respect.

4)      Decide who you will be. It is surely no surprise to you that I am a religious person. I love my God and find great solace in the idea that he has a plan FOR ME. I love the guides set out by Jesus Christ and the prophets and other really cool people to help me shape my own life.  I believe with all my heart that the key to a happy life is to act as much like Jesus Christ as possible. Some “religious” people use their standards as a way to make other people feel bad. They think they are better than other people because they have a religion that other people do not. They are fools. Anyone who acts that way and claims to be religious does not understand what the word means. One day, you will decide what kind of person you are and what kinds of things you believe in. And no matter what you decide, be a good person. Be a humble person. Be a kind person. No matter what.

5)      You can count on me.  You need to know that you will NEVER do anything stupid enough for me to abandon you. Never. You can even tell me that Harry Potter is the worst. That the Lord of the Rings is boring. That John Green is a hack, and I will still love you. I am not going anywhere. Even when you want me to. So there. Deal with it. I love you, and I will never leave you alone. There may be times when I am not physically in the room with you, but you can always call on me. Tell me everything. Even the gross, embarrassing stuff because I. Am. Not. Going. Anywhere.

6)      Life’s too short to do something you hate. Get a job that makes you smile. Get a job that’s rewarding. Get a job that makes you exhausted and happy and fulfilled. Otherwise, it’s just a hole in your life that gives you money and sucks up your time. And that’s lame. Pointless. Contradictory to the purpose of life.

7)      Work hard. No one is going to walk up to you with all you’ve ever wanted and just hand it over, even if you’re pretty (well, maybe sometimes but yuck). You have to work for it. You have to slave for it. You have to bleed for it. Only then will that stuff you’ve been working for mean anything.

8)      Choose happy. Too often people buy in to the idea that happiness is a thing that happens to you. They wait for it while they sit around and stare at their miserable lives. Happiness is not lightning. It’s not going to strike you unexpectedly. You have to choose it. You have to choose it repeatedly. Happiness is a verb (or it should be anyway) because it’s something you do over and over and over again.

9)      Have standards. And keep them. People in junior high and high school might give you a hard time about this one, but they’re lame. They know nothing. Cool people stand up for things they believe in. Let your standards define you, shape you, help you. Standing up for what you know to be right and good can only make you stronger and better. Cheating on this is cheating on yourself, your future, your promise. Totally not worth it.

10)   Get Smart and act smart. Being pretty is nice. Sure. But in the long run, who cares? What will last you forever and ever, even when you’re crinkly and old (like your dad—because I am NOT old) is knowledge. What you know changes you. Knowing stuff gives you power. You have the opportunity to get educated that other people do not. Take advantage of it. And no one benefits when a smart girl doesn’t act smart. If the people around you don’t like how intelligent you are, they are not worth your time or attention. No boy who wants a bubble-gum popping space-case is right for you. Why be a dollar when you’re clearly priceless?

I am so very certain there is more that you need to know. I’m even certain that I’ve told you some of this before, but like any good life lesson it needs to be repeated until it sticks. You’ll probably hear me say this to you again. In fact, I’m saving this file so I can just hit print every single time you need to hear this because that’s what mothers do. I love you. So much it hurts. So much that I’m just going to keep saying things like this and pasting them all over the internet so you will see them FOREVER. You are beautiful and kind and definitely WORTH it.

 

Love,

 

Mom

The experiment of second term

It’s been a while, and for that I am sorry. I’ve been working harder than ever with the MFA program. My mentor, the fantastic Michelle Hodkin, has really lit a fire under my writing behind, so most of my energy has been devoted to that. It’s freeing to spend hours everyday gluing words together. 

But I wanted to tell you about the interesting things that happened in my classroom this past term and what they mean for my continual experiments in teaching. 

I started the term with several thoughts competing in my brain. Mastery had been going so well that I hated to mess with what was working. The freedom a teacher allows in the classroom opens up doors for so many students, and I wanted to keep that, but I did see some flaws that I wanted to work on. 

That critical part of my brain kept saying things like, “I can’t let them leave 9th grade without encountering the Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet. What kind of teacher would I be?” So I compromised with myself and guided them through a reading of the Odyssey with a mix of free assignments and dictated ones. It flopped hard. 

Every assignment was torture, every word I spoke seemed incomprehensible to the students. Part of that, I’m sure, was that I tried to do too much, and part of that was that I tried to focus on writing informational texts while we read. Read about Greek mythology, write about Greek mythology. It made sense to me. But taking away freedoms from my students caused open revolts, no matter how interesting classes were or how much I worked with them. I was in a shark tank with an open wound.

I had one group of students host a civil war, with a declaration of independence and a constitution. Pretty impressive. Obviously sending a clear message.

So I’m still fine-tuning things. I want to free them with the mastery standards, but I’ve come to realize that separating the genres (narrative, argumentative, and informational) is a HUGE mistake on my part. And I would still love to have one common text each term.

This next term, I’m hoping to tie all I want together by selecting a class text which all will read and freeing up their writing and the way they show understanding of the reading with the mastery standards. I’m thinking of requiring a certain number of each type of text. For instance, you must all write one narrative, two arguments, and one informational piece of ____ number of words. 

Maybe then I can take advantage of the idea of student-driven learning, while still doing what I feel English teachers should do in exposing students to the kinds of texts they may not otherwise read. 

I’m working on it. Maybe next term, I’ll have figured it all out. But I’ve been teaching for almost ten years, and I’m still learning. It’s what I love about the job. 

My Educator Kryptonite

Right now, academic writing is my Kryptonite. I give my students resources, guidelines, mountains of information, and the vast majority of them come back with the absolute minimum. Every dang time. Getting my students to write well about academic or argumentative topics is like wrestling a pack of alligators. It will not end well.  I am tired of watching my students laze their way through the checklist of requirements I give them. Strap on your wrestling gloves because it is on. It is time for a change.

Well meaning teachers give students exact requirements for an essay. You need a claim, three reasons, two examples per reason, etc. These teachers, though they make essay writing easier are SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF WRITING. They have taken the tough stuff out. Students don’t have to think to do it anymore, and that is a bad thing. I have seen teachers tell their students that an essay is five paragraphs (I have been guilty of this on desperate days myself), and that a paragraph is five sentences. Theoretically if every student wrote ten word sentences (I know. Not happening in my class often either.) every time, they would write a MAXIMUM of 250 words for the essay. Making essays too much of a formula is giving kids permission to churn out crappy work. “Well, I have the 250 words and the claim and the…so you have to give me an A.” Curse that stupid rubric.

This coddling, otherwise called scaffolding, has stripped kids of the ability to make their own decisions in academic writing. They have a formula to follow, and they will not deviate. Well, this move to make writing more like math is a mistake. There’s a reason everyone hates math class! We are not like them, don’t stoop to that level. (Math teachers: Sorry–you are awesome. I just like to get your goat.)

Writing is an art. All forms of it. Where has the artistry gone?

Now, I’ve heard the argument that being succinct is not necessarily a bad thing. Though that’s true, it is not a lesson I have learned yet… Seriously though. Brevity in argument and academic writing often leads to fallacious reasoning, which means the actual topic/paper/idea suffers from it. Journalists can shoot for brevity. Flash fiction writers too. This does not belong in the academic realm. Don’t argue with me because I said so (see, fallacious reasoning sucks).

So, in a world where everything has negative consequences (why do kids have to act like such children all the time?!), there are no easy answers. There is only ever what is right for you and your students.

Here’s what I’m doing: I’m showing my students beautifully crafted work of all sorts. I am explaining the purpose of writing (and the varied purposes of all different forms), I am setting a minimum word count for each piece. A ninth grader should be able to write a 500 word essay (notice this is as a whole, not for every paragraph and not a page count. The last thing I need are more 18-point font 5-page papers. Who let you think that’s okay?). Sure they can say it with less words, but we’re not cavemen. They need to learn the thrill of crafting sentences. I am picking the lesser of two evils by setting a count requirement that frees them up to write longer paragraphs, more paragraphs, whatever they need so long as they form a reasonable and logical conclusion. This is probably not the best decision, but it’s something. (If you have something that works, for the love of all that is holy, share.)

So please, give your kids the permission to think on their own and then force them through that door of cognitive thought. They need a nudge not a hand to hold.

A proclamation of intention

I’ve been mulling over a lot lately as the different aspects of my life seem to collide and coalesce in ways that seem both violent and magical. The who-I-want-to-be and the who-I-am-now are doing battle on a regular basis, and I am finding myself giving up things that turned out to be less important than I thought and discovering things I didn’t know would matter in my life—a sure byproduct of growth. This is my new mantra, my proclamation to the world of who I will be from here on out.

First, I am giving up the idea that anyone who doesn’t accept the person I have come to be deserves a place in my heart. Understanding is love, whether we agree or not. We, as people, seem to expect other people to fit into the molds we create for them. I suppose it’s an effort to categorize and organize, two things I am never really guilty of doing—take a look at my desk and you’ll see my lack of organizational skills. People are not meant to be labeled or boxed in. We clump together in groups of like-minded souls so we can build one another up. We don’t expect a stool to stand with a broken leg, why do we expect ourselves to? If you are in my life, I intend to be a help to you and to accept you as you are. I expect the same favor in return.

Second, I am done giving away parts of myself because they historically do not mesh with someone else’s expectations. Where I’m from, many women feel that they must cater to their children nearly 24 hours each day to be good mothers. They live, eat, and breathe children. And though child rearing is an important and glorious work, it is not the only piece to my puzzle. Conversely, outside in the world (yes, I live in a bubble, and I know it) women are coming to the opposite conclusion—giving up on having families until the whole career has come and gone, every life dream fulfilled. Honestly, I want them both. I want to leave a blazing trail wherever I go of people I have changed and who have changed me, and I want my family to be by my side as I do it. Too often we are told the “right” thing to do is choose, when in reality, we must, as women, demand both. We deserve to have all we want, and we will not get it if we aren’t the ones fighting for it. I will not give up the people I love because it sends the wrong message, I will not give up my dreams for my children. They wouldn’t want that. If I am any kind of woman at all, I will do the courageous thing and demand a world where I can have it all, do it all, become it all because I deserve nothing less, and the world will be better for knowing me.

Happiness is about making the choices that make you happy, about choosing the hard path that will reap the most reward—and I’m not talking about money. I choose this. I choose to do what makes me happy. I choose to gain knowledge and use what I know to shape the world. I will not apologize for being this person any more than I will apologize for breathing. I will surround myself with those who stir in my heart the need to be better, but who love me in my current state because I am like a flower who has yet to bloom. I will be kind. I will be generous. I will not give up on people who need me, no matter how I feel about them, but I will stop letting others push me down to build themselves. I am not a step on your staircase. You’ve seen those acrobats that use each other to climb great heights, each an extension of the others’ movements? They throw themselves out into the great expanse, knowing the other will catch hold. That’s what we are. We pull each other up in our journey to reach the top.

I can’t do this without you there to catch me. If you can accept these things, if you want them just as much as I do, then come with me. We can take the leap together. 

A plea and a progress report

Hey guys,

First off, the plea: You have probably heard of Donor’s Choose. If you haven’t, you should look it up. Teachers put projects up, and people can fund them from anywhere in the world. I have a project up for funding now which would supply my students with books for our class library. Please donate if you can. Every little bit helps us gain more great books to read.

You can find it here: http://www.donorschoose.org/project/so-many-students-so-little-to-read/1066772

I thought I’d take a minute and update you on my new class structure. (If you haven’t read about it, you can scroll back and look.)

And then the report on my classroom:

So far things are great. And I’m not just saying that to be optimistic.

My students are writing more than they thought possible. I have had a few kids apologize for writing too much in one week, a few kids beg for more writing time, and a few kids ask me to take their work home to give it comments and more carefully read it. The amount most of my students write astounds them.

My students dig in to the stories they read and like them because they “chose them.” Really, everyone picks the same pieces out of some sort of cosmic default. But they get more involved in their reading because they have ownership over them. Makes me want to stop assigning specific texts at all and just let them pick ANYTHING, but that scares me a bit. Maybe next year.

I do have a few students who think they can cheat the system, and surprise–they are behind. They don’t work well, and they try to pass of half-effort for full credit. Once they realize that half-effort gets half-credit and a request to redo it, they start trying more.

Another kink: I am exhausted. I am up all day. No longer do I have the ability to sneak in my homework while they are working. It’s a small price to pay, I think.

 

And last: a report on the Masters–So far so good. It’s A LOT of work, but I think the biggest change is prioritizing my writerly time. In the past, it’s been a hobby at most. Now I am finding myself putting off other hobbies, ignoring my family, and completely avoiding ALL my responsibilities so that I can write. It’s a big adjustment for me, but slowly I am turning into a writer.

The Dreaded Parent Communication

I am, by my own admission, not great at parent communication. As a teacher, you get into a groove with your teaching, and you don’t remember to do things, like communicate with anyone.

However, parent communication is essential to a positive classroom environment. Here are some tips I plan to follow:

1) Involve parents first. Don’t wait for a problem or concern to come up. Email, write letters, do whatever you can right away to gain the parents’ confidence. Let them know your plans, how excited you are, be positive. Let parents know how to contact you. Taking this first step is important because it gives parents a sense of trust and confidence in you.

2) Be positive. You may have heard of the compliment sandwich. I firmly believe in the magical powers of this communication tool. Any criticism can sound  more bearable when surrounded by compliments. Here’s how it works: POSITIVE Criticism POSITIVE. When giving feedback to parents, do this. Always. Here’s an example: Little Johnny sure makes me laugh with his funny jokes; however, he seems to be telling them during silent reading time. I would love to hear more during recess. Keeping your comments positive will keep them productive.

3) Remember: parents, students, and teachers are all players on the same team.  Enlisting a parent’s help does not mean that you need to lay blame or act like a jerk. Give parents the benefit of the doubt (students too). Don’t be condescending either. You don’t need to talk down to parents, they’ve had to deal with these kids a lot longer than you have. They know how annoying he/she can be. Ask for their help without being rude.

4) Follow up. As often as possible. Email often. Email just to let them know a nice thing that happened. And if they don’t have email, write. And if they can’t read, call. Email REGULARLY.

5) Address their concerns. I know teachers that laugh about the fact that they haven’t opened their email all month. That just sounds disrespectful to me. Email should be answered at least daily. Parent concerns and questions should be addressed as soon as you can get to them. Shame on you if they have to wait on you. And no wonder you are having issues. Of course, if you get yelled at, wait a day. Cool down. But to prevent that from happening, answer all questions politely and quickly.

6) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get parents involved. If they’re busy, ask for donations. Get them interested in education.

Above all, know that you are all human and that communicating with parents can be a good thing.

No, YA is not the same.

I’ve been hearing a funny thing lately from other writerly people that has taken me a long time and a lot of research to process. It is tossed about, usually by adult writers who feel they can always fall back on young adult writing. The words are simple: There really is no big difference between adult and young adult writing. Good writing is good writing no matter where it falls.  Like any half-truth, it is a dangerous attitude to encounter. Here’s why…

Young adult brains are still developing. They do not, and are not really capable of processing the world the way an adult brain would. Though Piaget described the Formal Operational Stage as beginning at the age of 11 (more middle grade range), students are developing these skills all throughout their teenage years. They are learning how to think critically and abstractly. They are only developing an understanding of the world that is not egocentric. Think of the adolescent brain as a garden. In childhood, they are growing everything they can, letting the garden become overrun with thoughts and ideas and connections. During the teen years, they start cutting and pruning connections. They nourish the connections they use a lot and cut down on the ones that don’t seem to come up as often. Different parts of their brain (namely the Frontal Cortex) develops throughout the teen years.

How does this apply to books? Let me explain.

Because teens’ brains are still developing, the books targeting them will look different than books for children or adults. But because development differs depending on the individual, teens can enjoy adult or child literature and vice versa. However, the books targeting them needs to keep consistent. Here are the differences I see.

1) Self-Centered story telling: Because teens are still learning to see the world outside of themselves, the books successfully targeting young adults are self-centered. Where one character in an adult novel might describe a scene according to its self-sustaining beauty, a YA character might describe the same scene through a filter that always goes back to their experiences.

2) New Beginnings: People often criticize young adult books for having too many happy endings. But those people are missing the point. YA isn’t about happy endings. I can think of TONS of books with sad endings. YA is about new beginnings. They end with a little bit of hope, a willingness to start again because the teenage brain needs that little bit of an resolution.

3) Immediacy: Young adults are constantly being asked to store more and more bits of knowledge. They are only STARTING to prune it down. Therefore, YA needs to have a sense that it is happening now or could happen now.

I’m sure there are more, but to me, these are the main areas that mark a YA novel. The problem, now, comes with the crossover novel. Novels are being written with an older brain in mind, while still being marked YA. This is making the waters of teen writing foggy. That’s why I think this idea of “new adult” as a  writing category could be a bad thing that only confuses. People will still write the same things and call them YA, but we’ll add a whole lot more that could be adult fiction but somehow isn’t. It will only add more writing that mixes these essentials up. Rather, we need a teen category, separate from YA where books that are more specific to the young adult brain’s needs. That doesn’t mean an adult can’t read them, but it does mean that anything not fitting these three simple criteria may not be a young adult novel.

The differences are subtle, but they are too important to ignore. So, all you people getting it wrong, stop now. Consider this your education.

You are welcome.

A new (school) year, a new plan

A new school year approaches, and I find myself wondering why I have spent so long in the past crafting fun activities for my students to do. Sometimes, I feel like teaching has become a tightrope we are expected to walk between simple, predictable fun and absolutely innovative creation. Students expect us to entertain them, make the time they pass in class bearable, but they don’t expect to become passionate and that is the problem. They don’t expect to care. Why oh why have we  let that happen?! After a good long think, I’ve decided that the expectations I’ve set for myself and for my students are not really working anymore. Sure, I’ve created fun activities, but what is it all for? And what’s the point in doing it if the students can’t seem to naturally apply what we’ve learned to their actual lives?

Here’s what I’ve decided: 1)The English class is the best place for real-world application of skills that we have been learning forever.  2) Students need to work in a way that MATTERS to them. 3) I am bored to death with fun activities that are temporarily rewarding but forgettable in the long run. 4) My students need better, they need harder.

With these resolutions, I have created a new format for my classroom, borrowing what I think to be the best from the philosophies of Writing Workshop, the Flipped Classroom model, and Differentiated Instruction. I want to set down the basic operation here, mostly so I can organize it in my own mind and maybe get it out there to others where it could prove useful (and where you can help me fine-tune my thinking because we all know how smart you are).

The basic structure for my class works like this:

Students will set their own goals based on “I can” statements I have made from the Common Core State Standards and other English concepts that I feel to be important and not completely understood. Each week, I will meet with students individually to determine three new goals (one reading, one writing, and one other). We will set goals they actually need and check their progress the next week. We will talk about how to work on and show progress in these goals. This will be a large part of their grade, which will be adjustable as they learn more.

The week for a given student might look like this:

Monday is independent reading day where we read books of our own choosing. In my school, we use reading strategies to “report” on these, turning in the work we’ve done to implement a strategy with a reflection on its effectiveness for that book. We turn these in once a month. At the end of class, we book share and discuss briefly.

The rest of the week depends on your schedule, but basically students will cycle through all the following:

1. Conferencing with me + discussing in small groups–I will talk to each student each week. We will set new goals, check old goals, and set a game plan for the rest of the week until we meet again. We will discuss what the student wants to read to meet their reading goal, what they are writing to meet their writing goal, and how these two can coincide. We will be able to put misunderstandings and questions to rest through mini-lectures, personalized to that student.

2. Reading Goal day–On this day, students read a short story, article, chapter of a book, or whatever else they can learn from. They will be responsible for responding to the piece through an essay or other format, showing their mastery of their personal goal (Don’t worry, we’ll discuss options together).

3. Writing Day–Students will write what they want about what they want in whatever way they need. They will be able to work on the same piece repeatedly, so long as it shows mastery of their goal for the week.

4.  Article of the Week (a la Kelly Gallagher). I’ll have a specific article they read with a specific format for response. This is a good place for them to practice the skills they are working on alone, and gives us an opportunity for more unified discussions as a class.

Homework–

Basically, the only homework I’m assigning is for them to read a one-page guide (or watch a video, etc.) I’ve created (or other) that will help them with that week’s goal, write a paragraph summary and a paragraph application reflection. They’ll get maybe two a week of these. Anything else they do at home (other than nightly reading) will be their choice or because they didn’t work well that day.

What I do with resistant kids–

I still have plenty of those fun and kind of meaningless activities in storage. Also worksheets. And if all else fails, I’ll start calling in reinforcements and give them books that swear. That seems to do the trick more often than not.

Basically, I want my students shaping their own education. I realize this is not possible in many other classes, but in English it is not only possible, it’s necessary. We have to make them care about the written word, feel success at their use of it, maybe even LOVE the written word. I want my students becoming smart and active learners, not passive vacuums of knowledge which they will forget when they empty the bag.

I realize this is a new format for the English classroom. I know that it will be hard, but I’ve come to ask myself several questions lately that I can no longer ignore: What are my students getting out of my class? What is this whole thing for? What do I want them to remember years and years hence?

Honestly, I want my students to remember that I pushed them harder than they’ve ever been pushed before, that I encouraged them to be better, that they did more than they had any other year. I want them to work their butts off and like it. It’s ambitious, I know. I am reminded of those days when I actually thought movies about teaching were things that could happen in real life to more than one in a million teachers. But I have to try. I will make it work because I care, because I am tired of seeing people take all their other classes seriously and not English, because I am sick of students thinking that they already know English and don’t need no more.

It is a work in progress. It will probably scrape by at first until I fiddle with it and make it work. It will not work without the guidance of parents and students and administrators, but I am stubborn and not afraid of asking for support.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  Good luck in the new school year to all of you.

Michelle

Some things my kids should know…

I’ve always felt that I am blessed with the world’s best kids (until I had this last one, who is more than a handful–but he’s a blessing too). My children are the kind of kids that tell on and punish themselves. I used to find my daughter in the corner. When I asked her what happened, she’d say, “Don’t worry, Mom. I took care of it.” And though I don’t usually post in Mommy mode, I need to share what I feel are the most important lessons I can teach my kids.
1. You are great. You don’t have to change you are to be amazing. You are already there! There will be people who tell you that you are not good enough. They will try to convince you that you need to do this, wear that, lose this in order to be popular/important/whatever. Don’t believe them. If you have to be anything but you, it’s not worth it. Don’t listen.
2. Life takes hard work. Some people will want you to believe that things just happen, that you don’t have to work. They are lying or stupid. Everything takes work. And it is worth it. You know all those chores I make you do? They’re just training for the future. You’re welcome.
3. Family is forever. We will not quit on you. We will not give up on you. We will not judge you for what you do. We are stuck together, whether you like it or not. I will be your champion, your advocate, and I hope you can be mine.
4. School is cool. Learning is important. Sure, you could be successful without learning stuff. You could even be rich. But it will be a hollow, shallow, ridiculous experience. People all over the world, all throughout history, fight for the right to learn. Are you taking full advantage of that right?
5. Manners matter. Politeness is not an antiquated product of a long-past time. They show respect. They are your way to show people that you value them. I’m not saying you have to be a stickler for grammar or you can never talk with your mouth full. But try to pay attention to how you act toward others. Someday it will matter, and it’s much better to be prepared.
6. Never give up. You can do it. No matter what it is, if it’s important to you, It is possible. It will take time and effort. But you can. And it will be worth it.
7. It’s okay to do things for yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? And if that person you are going to date doesn’t take care of you now, they never will. Also, your dad and I might end up threatening him with ninja stars, so choose wisely.
8. I love you. Always have. Always will.