I loved, loved, loved these 5 tips from teacher Emily Brisse in today’s Washington Post. Emily writes a ton of letters to colleges in support of her students. If you want to stand out to Emily as a student, she asks that you give her something to write about and advises the following:
- Be present: Physically, sure. Attendance helps. But I’m talking about engagement. Even if you’re not loving “The Great Gatsby,” even if you’re not reading “The Great Gatsby” (you are reading it, right?), show me that you’re thinking about it, searching for its relevance, listening to the connections your classmates are making, asking good questions. Nothing impresses me more than a student who is able to show up to class every day, convinced there is something to be learned.
- Be courageous: Speak up. Admit you don’t understand, or that you do. Ask another student to clarify — even the kid you’re certain is getting an A. Be honest about what you believe. If you feel those beliefs evolving, try to sidestep fear and pay attention. Even when it’s risky, write what you want to write. Remember, as Emerson insists, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”
- Be collaborative: Most people would agree that our current political and societal discourse is, in a word, disharmonious. So, it is ever more necessary that people learn to sit with those of differing opinions and backgrounds, listen to one another and work together. Whether you like group projects or not, understand these assessments are microcosms for the world you are about to enter. Extrovert, introvert, leader or follower — whatever you are, be certain you remember the table Hughes describes, and that you make space around it for a variety of voices.
- Be curious: The easiest letters I write are about kids who are intrinsically interested. They stay after class to keep discussing Cather or they ask for more stories by Cisneros or they want to know — really know — why it is that when O’Brien writes a certain way, they feel like they’re not just reading about the jungles of Vietnam, but actually there, covered in blood and sweat and regret. These conversations have nothing to do with grades or, God forbid, points. They are about wonder. About a quest for knowledge. About all that cannot be seen — yet. Your capacity for awe and attraction to inquiry say a lot about your readiness for higher education, so let your interests lead.
- Be grateful: The fact that you are even considering college is a testament to your privilege. You can read. You can write. You have been shown how to join the conversation. These are life-changing, life-giving tools. So please, appreciate your school; regardless of your experience in any one class, as a collective, your school has given you an education that many teenagers around the world would risk their lives for. And appreciate your teachers, too. They are not perfect. They are tired on Monday mornings just like you. If their stupid jokes make the top of your head feel like it’s been taken off, I know it’s probably not for the same reason Dickinson describes. But help a teacher out: Laugh anyway.
And need I say how important these ideas are for all of us? What can you put into practice today from Emily’s list? Or share with any Juniors in your life! 🙂
Click here to read the full article!
Hey, I got to see a baby butterfly when the chrysalis on my birdbath dissolved last weekend. It went black on Saturday and I thought maybe it was rotten. Then this spotted beauty emerged to aired her new wings. Joy :).
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