Remarkable Teens: An Introduction

I realized as I wrote my last post that my current topic of reflecting on my assessment results is pretty darn egocentric.  I mean, let’s be honest.  All I really did was write about myself.  I think it still has purpose because I truly am exploring the assessment in the name of researching strengths-based education.  I do need to write these reflections because I need to understand the vocabulary and the life application of StrengthsFinding before I can help bring it to high schoolers.  But this blog isn’t supposed to be just about me, and I want to make sure that the focus remains on preparing teens for life.

To that end, I’ve decided to start a “Remarkable Teens” section to this blog.  I find myself saying over and over again that teenagers are remarkable, but I want others to see what I see.  Every classroom I’ve entered has been filled with special, unique kids, and I’m not just talking about the obvious: the 4.0 valedictorians, athletic stars, and artistic prodigies that are singled out as special.  I see it in all of them, even the ones that test my patience and make the classroom just a little bit more difficult to manage, the ones that never turn in their work, and the ones that break my heart.

Now, teachers who say they don’t have favorites are lying.  We’re human beings, and we will always been drawn to some individuals more than others.  There will always be a handful of students that connect with us just a little bit more than other kids – the kindred spirit, the hard worker, and that kid that’s just plain funny.  In every place I’ve taught, I’ve found that select few that get me and I get them.  We bond, and it’s hard when one of us (usually me) leaves.  When we teachers say we don’t have favorites, what we mean is that our favorites don’t get special treatment.  Our favorites are not singled out in any way and are held to the same behavioral and academic standard as everyone else.  If anything, I’m actually just a little bit harder on my favorites because I want to push them to reach their amazing potential.  And no matter what, I sincerely care about every single one of my students.  I mean it when I say that I see something remarkable in all my students.  Some may not connect with me personally, but they are clearly still filled with amazing potential.  I hope and pray they find the right mentor in some other adult to help unlock their strengths.  I just get a closer look at some students than I do others.

I say all this because I’ll probably start out by writing about the remarkable teens that have given me the privilege of a closer look, my “favorites.”  I know them better, and you write what you know.  But I don’t want to stop there.  I want to show people what I see in the others, too.  I want to show my readers that every teen has this remarkable potential, and if I’m not the one to discover it and encourage it, then someone else needs to be.

So every so often, I’ll write a post about one of my teens – a student that has crossed my classroom and touched my life in some way.  The names will be changed, of course, and even then I won’t write about anything they’ve told me in confidence.  But their potential, their strengths, their unique qualities that stand out in my mind – those I will write.  So look for the first “Remarkable Teen” post soon.

To my teen readers (and I know I have a few), I hope these stories encourage you.  Know that some of us on the other side of the teacher’s desk are paying attention to you, to what makes you special.  As you read these posts, I hope you start thinking about your own strengths and abilities.  If you crossed my classroom, what would I see in you?

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