To The Graduates

It’s amazing to me, but my first homeroom class just graduated. Students who I taught as 5th grade students were stuck in my classroom again as 8th graders. It’s amazing to me the way it all came together. I had the incredible good fortune to see how these students had grown and developed over the course of the last few years and I got to see some of the ways that I have changed, and hopefully improved, as a teacher. Now, I am admittedly not the hardest guy in the world to get misty-eyed, but this last week has had me getting more emotional than I’ve been about anything else in recent memory.

I was able to talk individually with quite a few of them, and give them some parting encouragement and advice, but I noticed that a lot of the things I was saying to them remain just as important for me to remember. While none of them are even aware that I have this blog, I did want to take the time and opportunity to remind us all of just a few things that I seemed to be saying on repeat over the last couple of days.

  1. Don’t make other people’s mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes, no doubt about that, but make mistakes doing what you believe you should. Other people can give you advice, I’m not saying to ignore them, otherwise this idea of me giving advice would be really strange. What I am saying, though, is that you have to follow your conscience. Ultimately, you’re going to have to deal with the consequences of your choice, and that is a way easier thing to handle and learn from if you make the mistake doing what you believed was right.
  2. Remember your friendships even if you lose touch with the friend. Everybody in your life has been put there for a reason, some for a lifetime, some for a season. Check that poetry out! Can you tell I used to teach language arts? Anyway, the fact is, some people who we feel incredibly close to now will drift apart from us, and some of them will be people we stay connected to forever. No matter which one they fall into eventually, our time with them can and should impact us forever. Remember the lessons of the friendship, even if the person themselves isn’t in your life anymore.
  3. Know your roots. This is actually probably the most important, and should be the starting point, for all my advice, but I know that the last thing we read tends to be what stays in our mind, and I want this to be what sticks in all of ours. Everything else we do needs to branch out from somewhere, and where we set our roots, our core identity, is the most important thing we can do. Never let your mistakes, the opinions of others, and even your own self doubts and criticisms shake your knowledge that you are, and will always be, a son or daughter of the king. You are an image of the divine, and reflect the spark of our Creator in a way that nobody else ever has or ever will.

Like I said, this is a very partial, but essential, list of things I tried desperately to impart to my students and myself. What would you add?

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