To the Editor:
Start teaching this week. There’s no bus, no homework, no early morning alarms. But your kids are already in the classroom; their room, the couch, your kitchen table. You are the teacher. Start teaching this week how to survive and thrive when school starts.
Unpack the summer. Unpack camp, summer jobs, vacation — unpack the friendships that changed. Teach them how to be on everybody’s best list — and that they won’t be on everybody’s best list — and that’s OK.
Hold them to their highest standard and not to anyone else’s. Teach them that believing “I’m not smart enough” is the only stupid thing they’ll do. Teach them that a poor grade or bad experience is the most important part of learning.
Teach them how to control and understand their emotions, their anxieties, their worries, and their strengths. But don’t teach them before you teach yourself the same.
Prepare for the bullies, because they’re out there. Teach them about strength and kindness — how strength built on kindness is more concrete than strength built on power. Teach them how to be strong when the strength of another is gone — to be an ally, not a shadow.
Prepare for them being a bully, because it happens. Teach them how to help the person who they’ve put down — that if they stop the bullying and walk away — someone is still left on the ground.
Ask them why they felt the need to take the strength from another away. Teach them that deleting the messages will never have the power of admitting a wrong, and sending a sorry.
Get them ready for being alone. Teach them how to walk without headphones or eat without a screen. Teach them that at some point, they will be alone, and that it’s OK.
Teach them that the most important person to befriend will always be themselves.
From one undergrad to his community — you will always be the greatest teacher — start teaching this week.