Dear 8th Grade,
Beautiful People, did I ever tell you about my childhood? Did I tell you that growing up that I really liked, actually loved, when people told me I was smart? I secretly basked in that title, which I now know is a pretty harmful way of labeling kids. Of course, as the child of two super strict Haitian immigrant parents, I could never show how much I loved that label, or I would have been labeled arogan or arrogant. And being called arrogant would not have been a good thing. So of course I hid my pride, and acted humble.
Then I got to AP Calculus, and CAPITAL F - FAILED. I MEAN MISERABLY. My teacher would look at me with a combination of great consternation and pity, saying things like, "I don't get why you you're not getting it, you're so smart." My teenage mind was thinking, "Well, you're a horrible teacher. I don't understand your methods." My parents were worried. They couldn't afford a tutor but they got me one. I literally did not understand what the guy was doing. He could have been speaking a foreign language. I asked my mom to please get rid of him. Thankfully, she did. I want to honor her by saying that is possibly one of the best things she ever did for me. She let me fail. My downfall was in my mind spectacular, but in reality it wasn't; it was something that I needed to happen.
My failure wasn't final, and thank goodness it was not fatal. I've failed many times since. I can't wait to tell you the story of my pre-college summer spent at NYU, and how I was mortified by my grades. I literally felt humiliated. Guess what? I survived. I'll tell you about my first job as a secretary. Also, remind me to tell you about my more recent failures. I have failed in so many ways, and hated the failing in the moment. But each failure has taught me a lesson: I have the opportunity to build capacity. I can grow. I can change. During the actual failing I may not recognize that, and my ego may be bruised, but it heals. I realize that my confidence shouldn't be placed in being viewed a certain way, but in being a person who works at getting better - personally and professionally.
That's my hope for you.
Shine on you beautiful diamonds. Shine on. Don't let anyone take your light and sparkle.
Ms. St. Jean
Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.