Talking to the Fifteen-Year-Old Me

Right now my student teaching internship is in a tenth grade American Literature classroom, and I’m teaching a unit on how to write research papers. My host teacher has been gracious and trusting enough to let me teach for the past week. I’ve learned a lot through just this short period of time.

The short list:

  1. Developing a learning community in your classroom is essential. If students don’t respect themselves, each other, and you as the teacher, good luck getting anything valuable done.
  2. When you see a problem, nip it in the bud.
  3. Teaching is exhausting. Right now I’m only teaching one 90 minute class a day, and when I finish and get home I am ready to pass out.
  4. Correcting papers (specifically papers in which students are learning how to format works cited entries in MLA format) takes forever. But figuring out what we need to spend more time going over in class is invaluable, so it must be done.

Today, as we’re talking about how to organize notecards and write papers, one of my students asked me what grade I want to teach. I answered that I’d prefer tenth or eleventh grade, but I like all of high school. Another student then asked me why I wanted to teach high school. I paused before I started answering her question, quickly debating in my head whether or not this was a waste of classtime. I decided to answer her, because part of garnering students’ respect for me and developing a learning community is taking the time to learn about each other so that we can care about each other.

I want to teach high school because when I was that age, I had no idea of how much potential I had to do great things. I had no idea that I was intelligent or good at English. I had no idea of what I would do after high school. I just hadn’t thought ahead yet. I was so focused on my social life (or making my non-existent social life better) that I did not care about any of the subjects I studied in school. I thought that I wanted to teach elementary school, become a mom, and that I would get married shortly after graduating from college and basically be a career mommy. There’s nothing wrong with that– it just was not the path for me. And I’m glad that it’s not the path I took. But the point is, I never would have realized my potential if not for adults along the way who gave me a greater vision for what my life could be.

I told my students today that they may not realize it now, but what they want at fifteen is not what they will want for the rest of their lives. Right now they need to lay the foundation to achieve greater things if that’s what they choose for themselves later on down the road.

If I could go back in time, I would tell the fifteen-year-old me a few things.

You’re NOT fat or ugly. You’re perfect the way you are, stop hating yourself.

You are extremely intelligent and funny. Have more confidence in yourself.

Pay attention in English class and put time into enjoying the things you read. Seek out more things to read in your free time.

In a few years, everyone you are so worried about impressing right now will be out of your life and you will only see them again when you come home for Christmas break, and even then you won’t give a damn what they think about you.

If a boy does not like you back, it’s his loss.

Your life will not resemble a Kenny Chesney song in any way, shape, or form. Nor is it supposed to.

Don’t let high school girl drama get to you.


4 responses to “Talking to the Fifteen-Year-Old Me

  1. I’m so very, very proud of you!

  2. Words of wisdom, young lady.

  3. I wish I could talk to past!Natasha (she is so stupid) but I can’t I can only hope to be good for future!Natasha. (this is why I don’t like journals you have to admit you weren’t perfect)

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