Back to School – Have You Told Your Child These Five Things?

  1. Your teacher’s job isn’t to like you; your job is to learn. You might be fortunate enough to have teachers who you are “cool” with. But not having a friendly, relatable, or “cool” teacher is no excuse for not doing your best or not doing well. The reality is that no matter what you do, your personality may not be compatible with your teacher. A teacher can dislike you for no good reason at all. But it is your responsibility to perform, keep records, and be on point, so that personality differences do not determine your grades.
  2. Students who give their all receive the benefit of the doubt. There are different kinds of students. We all know this, and teachers know it too. There are those who are exceptional without trying very hard; those who are very bright but work very hard to do well; those who work very hard yet only produce average or subpar work, and those who do poorly because they don’t work very hard at all. But when it comes to teachers, one thing is usually true: teachers appreciate hard workers, and students who giver their all, with a positive attitude. Any grade that is right on the cusp of the next level will likely receive that needed bump if you have distinguished yourself as a student who works hard, as opposed to one getting by on bare minimal effort. Teachers want everyone to do well, but they especially want great students with positive attitudes to do well.
  3. You are your competition. Set your own standards. Your ultimate goal shouldn’t be to do better than the student next to you. Instead, it should be to beat your own best performance every time. Your goal should be to push yourself to limits you didn’t know you had, and to achieve goals you haven’t achieved before. If you make your goal simply to do better than your fellow students, you could be robbing yourself by underachieving and not doing as well as you otherwise would have.
  4. Be a leader not a follower. In school, just like in life, the leaders always separate themselves from the followers. Don’t strive to be liked – be yourself – be a leader, and like-minded people will flow towards you. Decide what you are all about, and be that person. You will be safer, smarter, and more successful for developing your leadership skills while you are young.
  5. Your friends are a reflection of you and your judgment. “Birds of a feather flock together,” as the saying goes. Generally speaking, people who are about similar things, hang together. Whether you are like them or not, you will be judged by the company you keep, and their habits and ideas will influence your thoughts and actions. In school, as in life, positive people associate with positive people; and negative people gravitate to each other just the same. Both legally, and socially, it is very easy to be found “guilty by association,” so associate yourself with people who will make you look good, enhance your life and teach you things that will make you a better, smarter person.

Follow Mervin Bourne, author of the forthcoming book, “A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Son”, at, on FB at mervinabournejr, and on Twitter @MervinBourne

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