9 End of Year Lessons for Students
Anea Bogue | Tonic.com
Now is the perfect time to ensure that life’s lessons remain paramount.
From the kindergarten classroom to the college campus, a young person’s school environment and the people in it are their community. It is within this community, though academically focused, that they learn and practice many of life’s most important lessons. Rather than allowing another school year to draw to a close and simply melt into the next, we can encourage a little conscious reflection on the lessons learned during the preceding 180 or so precious days of our student’s life and when needed, give them a little guidance in seeing what they might not recognize on their own. I go through this process with many of the girls I work with including my own daughter, at the end of a school year. The process often yields a list of what worked, what didn’t and how she’s going to do it the same and differently when the fall presents a new beginning. This becomes an exercise in consciously creating one’s own path. Recognizing her own hand in the way this last year turned out, for better or worse, ultimately empowers her with the realization that she has the ability, through perception and action, to make next year, and many to come, whatever she desires them to be.
It is important, regardless of the age of our students, that we assist them in reflecting on the following as the school year comes to an end:
1. Even the thorn in your side is a gift. Whether it was a teacher, the girl who constantly made you feel stupid in English class or the kid who never helped enough with group projects, this is important preparation for dealing with the adult world. There will most certainly be employers, co-workers, in-laws and next-door neighbors who will see the world in radically different ways than you. Turn these challenges into training for future expertise in diplomacy, healthy compromise and holding on to a job.
2. You’re personal best IS the best. With rare exception, there will always be someone better than you and more often than not, it will depend on who’s judging “the best.” Whether your best is a ‘C’ or an ‘A+’ in math, the lead in the school play or the most dynamic ‘Flower #3’; whether you got into your first choice college or your safety, if you did your personal best, you should feel proud. If you didn’t and you now find yourself plagued with feelings of disappointment and regret, create a plan for doing it differently from this point forward.
3. Peer pressure is natural. Unless you live alone on an island or in a bubble, you will be faced with your own desire to be like other people and/or their desire to have you, be like them. We speak of this as primarily an adolescent phenomenon, but the reality is it never completely goes away because a large part of this is human nature. The key is to be constantly checking in with yourself and asking whom it is you desire to be. If a person is asking you to say or do something that contradicts your personal vision of yourself, the answer is a clear “NO.” At the end of the day, it’s just you and the mirror and you have to like the person you see, inside and out.
4. Always treat others as you wish to be treated. One would think this to be the most fundamental and straight forward lesson ever. Hopefully, the social studies lessons on the history of slavery in this country, current events on a myriad of national and international stories and the bullying epidemic that has taken numerous lives of teens this year have spoken loudly and clearly about the consequences we face when we don’t live by this golden rule. We can’t be best friends with everyone, but we can certainly commit to treating everyone with the basic kindness and consideration with which we would like to be treated.
5. “Failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” This quote by Mary Pickford should be on every classroom wall. Many of the most successful people in history experienced huge failures which acted as precursors to their ultimate success. From Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jordan and J.K. Rowling, know that failure tested them, forced them to build their stamina, hone their gifts and walk as extraordinary people on the planet. When we succeed at something, we often take the pats on the back and move on. Failure challenges us to reflect and grow — and few could disagree that growth is the very essence of life.
6. An active body means a better functioning brain. Studies confirm that just 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity 3 days a week improves academic performance. Actively participating in PE class will not only earn you a good PE grade, it will likely result in good grades across the board. For future reference, developing a daily routine that includes physical activity now will help you to be a healthier and higher functioning human being no matter what your career path holds.
7. Goal setting is fundamental to success. Consciously setting goals and then planning a corresponding path to achievement, which includes hard work and commitment, is essential to creating the life you desire. From memorizing a single line for the kindergarten holiday show to earning the grades necessary to get into the college of your choice, the opportunity to practice clearly defined goal setting is essential to your future achievements.
8. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” This African proverb is one we can all live by no matter what our age. History lessons, on everything from the triumphs of the Underground Railroad to the devastation of Nazi Germany, teach us much about the consequences, positive and negative, of this teaching. The bullying epidemic and the lives that have been lost as a result this year alone, remind us of how tragic the consequences can be when bullies bully and too many others remain silent. From standing up for a peer on the elementary school playground to raising awareness of an injustice on your high school or college campus, you have the responsibility and the power to make a difference in your world.
9. Self-esteem is everything. It is impossible to value anyone or anything if you do not first value yourself. By recognizing and embracing the messages outlined above, you will start making the most of the many days of your life you spend in a classroom. Most importantly, you will be on the path to achieving your own highest potential and the sense of self-value that accompanies it.
More End of the Year Reads:60 Ways to Survive & Thrive as the School Year Ends
The Instructor’s Guide to De-Stressing in the Final Weeks of School
End of the School Year: Flexible Planning
End of the School Year: Focus on the Positive