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I was all jazzed up after curriculum nights this year, one at the middle school and one at the high school. What in previous years had been an obligatory snore fest (during which I typically played games on my phone or doodled on the 312-page syllabus) turned out to be, frankly, EXCITING. 

It took me a few beats to get over how young most of the teachers were. I'm talking, like, maybe not-even-shaving-yet young. After my initial shock and skepticism wore off, it became obvious to me that these bright, motivated young teachers were going to crack open my kids' minds. In the best way possible. 

The Language and Literature teacher told us he had the kids discussing the Ryan Lochte Olympics debacle in class. The Individuals and Societies teacher was teaching the students about credible sourcing, a hot topic in this age of social media. Shocking, I know, but Wikipedia is actually NOT a credible source when conducting research. Who knew? This stuff is relevant and engaging and important. 

It was so wonderful to meet so many teachers with a growth mindset. They truly want the kids to understand the material, even if it means correcting a test three times. They want them to say, "You just lost me," the moment they don't understand something. What a difference from the punitive grading methods of my prehistoric school days. I did not look at my phone or doodle once, because I was so taken with these lovely creatures who were going to be influencing my children for the next nine months. 

I was actually disappointed when the bell rang at the end of each abbreviated period because I wanted more, more, more. It got me to thinking about how remarkable it would be if I could go back in time and re-do high school as the person I am today. Even though I'm quite certain I wouldn't listen, this is what I would tell my freshman self:

Don't be cool

Trying to be cool automatically makes you uncool. The coolest thing ever is genuine self confidence. The best (only?) way to possess self confidence and self esteem is to do the right thing. Therefore, doing the right thing makes you cool. That includes not letting anyone eat lunch alone. Even if others don't recognize the merits, trust me. That's so cool. 

Don't gossip

Not gossiping can also be considered doing the right thing, and it is, but it goes deeper than that. Don't encourage other people to gossip, and try not to listen if they do. Gossiping is damaging to others but, ultimately, is a poor reflection on you. So you worry about you. This is a Herculean task for a high schooler and it will be really, really hard. Do it anyway. 

Be a joiner

Yeah, some things won't change over the years. Freshman self, you are still not a joiner at 47. So I speak from experience when I tell you to find a club or a sport that's interesting to you and STICK WITH IT. Being part of a team, sports or otherwise, will help you become a better citizen of the world. Yes, you have time. 

View learning as exciting

Because it is. Yes, there will be subjects or teachers you will find annoying or boring, but your only job is to learn. There are so many amazing things to learn about and you get to do it all day long! How awesome is that? Find a way to make the subject relevant or interesting to you and soak it up! 

If someone had told me this stuff back in the day it would not have influenced me much. There may or may not be eye rolling involved. Who wants the advice of a geezer? So this was an interesting exercise for me, but I am refraining from sharing it with my high school freshman. 

See? Always learning!


Read Robin Green's blog on Facebook at facebook.com/clevelandjewishnews. Use the hashtag #CJNaccidentalblogger.

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