I’ve gone through twelve miserable years of school, and I’ve got perhaps three teacher friends to show for it. What does that say of me? In junior high, I was much too immature to realize the value of having relationships with those in authority positions. I constantly viewed them as the enemy; foreign people who didn’t know me and wanted my life to be hell, utilizing worksheets and pop quizzes. Sometimes I was right; sometimes I just didn’t click with teachers from day one and had to suffer in their class for the rest of the year. Sometimes, I was the teacher’s pet. I was called on first, people asked me to bargain with them for treats like extra lunch time or an extension of a test. But be aware, this is not nearly the same thing as being friends with a teacher.
Teacher’s pets are precisely what they sound like, little puppies and kitties that like to be petted and fawned over. But friendship operates on a different level. There’s always an aspect of teacher-student inherent in any of these relationships, but these two individuals also see each other on equal planes in a way. You know their kid’s name, you spend time in their classroom when you don’t have to, and you can go beyond small talk without forcing it.
And you can look to them for advice. No, not for how to do this sort of problem, or how to approach this test, but for which classes to take next year, or how to proportion your schedule. It has taken me years to realize this, but some of your teachers are actually human. They’ve got wives and husbands and houses and they go to Chick-fil-a just like you and I. They’re also significantly older, and know so much about life. I don’t want to make a blanket statement here, so I won’t, but some teachers definitely have more to offer than perhaps your parents (only in some aspects though). They’re in high school, and they see the struggles that every student faces. They’re at least a fraction of a percent more sympathetic, unless they just have a bitter and pessimistic view of high schoolers, in which case they have no place as a teacher in high school.
These people decide your grades, but they have so much more to offer. In reality, we are all selfish yet ambitious; we’ve got goals and colleges that we want to reach, and having a genuine teacher-friend can come in handy. They’ve got nothing but positive comments to spill into a college rec, they’ll vouch for you if no one else will, and they have got genuine advice to offer.
We can’t always go to school completely prepared, with a pretty backpack and fancy hat.
A service has been invented through which you can send messages to people in the future. To whom would you send something, and what would you write? – Daily Prompt
You are going to start high school next year. You will make the huge transition from middle school to high school. While the jump is not as drastic as it is to leave high school for college, you won’t be prepared. No one ever is. We all have this ideal of high school in our minds that we find is woefully distorted. It is too optimistic. It is too much influenced by the parties and fun that you see on TV. And yet, it’s not as dramatic as the media portrays it. But this is only for me personally, a major introvert.
So I hope I can help you just a little bit.
You need to find friends but don’t cling on for dear life. Your social group is inevitably going to shift every couple of months. You just need to know that it will happen, and it is not the end of the world if it does. People you thought would be by your side for the rest of your life will desert you in a few months. You will make friends with people you never imagined you would. High school will surprise you.
You need to keep your grades up. There’s this evil thing called GPA which measures your grades from day one of year one. The higher it is, the more likely you’re going to go to a good school. Don’t be anal, but don’t take your knowledge for granted. In high school, everything gets a lot harder. You must apply yourself and start reviewing for tests early. You have to find motivation to do your work. You don’t HAVE to learn about the French Revolution, you GET to.
You need to find teachers that will like you. Yes, it’s nice to have them write recs for you, but it’s just nice to have friends that are in positions of authority. It doesn’t look lame. It’s the coolest thing ever. Find one that teaches a subject that interests you and do not be like everyone else in the class. Smile and say hi in the halls. Go to extra help not just to review for a test. Visit them even if they are no longer your teacher. I regret so much not doing so, and I have certainly alienated a good number of teachers that could be very meaningful to me.
You don’t have to find out your passion. You don’t need to decide what you’re going to be. High school is just the very beginning (a very painful and miserable beginning) of a path of stones that will lead you through life. Step completely and heavily and confidently onto the first stone. Explore many options and join clubs. If you find one that you like, you should stick with it. If your friends want you to quit it, disregard their opinion (in this instance). High school is not for your friend group, it is for YOU. It is YOUR experience. You are your own independent person.
Before year 9 you won’t take this advice very seriously because you won’t really know what I’m talking about. Every year you’ll read this letter again and understand it a little better than you did before. And you’ll find out that what I’m saying is true (in some respects, at least). And you will look back when you graduate and regret a little bit but we’re not all perfect, are we?