By Laura Moore

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I am terrible at writing titles.

I'm reminded of this at least once a week when I sit down to write my blog, and EVERY TIME I prepare a story for submission, but I was specifically reminded of it on Monday when I prepared to submit an essay I've poured my heart into for the last three months. The essay tells the most important story I've ever told about my life, and writing it was not only empowering, but therapeutic, liberating, and terribly important for me.

I tried to think of a title idea early on, but I hated everything I came up with, so I decided to save it until the end. When I finally finished the 200th hour of editing and sat down to prepare my document for upload, I stared at the working title--at the commonplace, uninspiring word at the top--and I realized it was horrible. It didn't, in any way, capture the power of my piece, or the depth of my journey. It failed to provide an enticing hook, to add another layer, to adorn my work with a shimmering crown.

So I brainstormed for hours. I tried on different hats. I ventured down a variety of roads. None of them fit, however. None of them suited my purpose. None of them felt right. 

But the essay was due, so I settled. 
left the name: "Home." 
Then I clicked "upload" and ultimately, "submit." 

I thought the action would produce relief, but my anxiety only grew. The terrible title remained with me, punishing me for my lack of wisdom, reminding me that I really needed to get better. 

I tell my students how important titles are when they name their assignments "Narrative," "Memoir," or "Literary Analysis." And I think about their importance myself when I base my decision to read or not to read on the titles I see when I look at a book, skim through a journal, or scan a list of news stories popping up on various feeds.

But no matter what I know about their importance, I still struggle to write them, to piece together efficient, illuminating language that layers rather than summarizes my work. I still struggle to whittle ideas into a single dash, into a witty flip, into a metaphorical masterpiece. By the time I get to the end, I'm spent. I've given my all to the story, and it seems like betrayal to capture the whole thing in one, two or three words. It feels manipulating to tease the readers I want to touch, and just plain wrong to trick them or to scare them, or to over-promise the world.

But I know I need to improve. So I set out today to confront my weakness head-on, to take steps to get better. I read a dozen articles about blog post titles and as one might suspect, success in that arena relies more on marketing principles than it does poetry. Since I'm less concerned about clicks than I am about my literary pieces, I shifted my focus part way through, turning my attention instead to the art of naming short stories and novels and creative nonfiction. 

In a post titled "Choosing the Right Name for Your Story," Mississippi writer John Floyd sets out rather practical advice. He takes works that have already achieved fame, and categorizes them under identifiers such as: a popular expression (Something's Gotta Give), a play on words (Live and Let Die), a hidden meaning (Catch 22), a title that comes from an existing work (The Sound and the Fury), a person's name (Forrest Gump), a place's name (Cold Mountain), a possessive (Angela's Ashes), an association of ideas (Misery), an event or activity (Waiting to Exhale), a memorable line from a story (To Kill a Mockingbird), a phrase that has rhythm (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold), and a phrase that is simple (The Godfather). 

When I read his categories and their corresponding examples, the process seems logical and straightforward. I understand why the various works fit the categories and how each of the titles themselves capture, deepen or advance the essence of the stories they name. Even more, I can see how referencing that list might help me test out my titles, but I didn't feel like the list inspired me to write my own. 

So I continued digging and though I found several articles related to the topic, the one that resonated most appeared on a Quick Tips PDF listed on the University of Minnesota's Center for Writing page. After identifying the function of a title and establishing the creation of it as a process, this page proceeds to share Richard Leahy's "Twenty Titles for the Writer" exercise (Leahy's original document is on JStor). 

I'll be honest, when I initially approached the list, I assumed it would be cheesy, cliche and impractical--just like so many I had already seen--but the minute I dug in, I realized it was exactly what I needed. Leahy provides tangible ways to generate names, and even if it might be enticing to stop with one of the prompts, he suggests that writers proceed through every step. That way, they'd be able to choose from a list of twenty possibilities.

Jackpot. 

As one who is often stiffed by the process, having Leahy's exercise at my fingertips felt invigorating, and I knew--the moment I read thought the list--that it would not only edge its way into my writing life, it would land in my classroom as well. Students also struggle with titles and I frequently feel ill-equipt to help them. Now, I can offer a process, a way in, a way to explore possibilities and discover something they might not have otherwise considered. And--as I continue to muddle through it all myself--I can add to the list. I can think of new angles. I can imagine new layers. 

Instead of dreading the act of titling, when I finished sifting through the materials this afternoon, I felt empowered. I felt inspired to embark on the process. I felt prepared to dive in, to swim around, to overcome.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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Throughout my life, I've wasted so much energy arguing. 

And I don't mean on the good kind of arguments: the ones where two parties tackle open issues--thousand sided issues--in an effort to sway back and forth across various shades of gray. 

I mean black and white arguments that fail to follow any sort of protocol. The kind where each side talks loudly from behind pre-drawn lines in the sand.  The sorts of exchanges where decisions have already been made, and the owners of those decisions are not willing to revisit them, to roll them over or to cut them open. 

For a while, I entered those debates with a false sense of valiancy. I felt responsible for educating my opponents about my position on an issue, and if I neglected to do so--or to do so adequately enough--then the other person would walk away without hearing both sides, without seeing the full picture. 

Oh how righteous I felt.

Oh what a jerk I was.

See that mindset--and the behavior resulting from that mindset--is toxic. It eats away at individuals and relationships. It inspires a feigned sense of empowerment, and it screams and yells and edges out those who are less aggressive, even when--and especially when--the less aggressive people have something important to say. 

When someone takes the opposing side to issues tugging at my heart strings, I can feel my blood pressure rise and my stomach churn. My thoughts spray like semi-automatic weapons, and in truth, I probably only listen to one in every three things the other person shouts. Lodged in a defensive state, I take the one thing I hear and I twist it and I turn it and I beat it like a fragile yolk. I search for rhetorical grenades. I try to present the other side as ridiculous. I strive to make my views so appealing no one could possibly disagree. 

But the other person does the exact same thing, and the noise we create in our pointless war makes it impossible to hear, makes it impossible to think, makes it impossible to move our feet in any direction whatsoever--any direction, except back.

Our discussion is not productive or valiant. We are not persuasive game changers; we're narcissistic pontificators. We're both waiting for contradictions, for over-stepping stereotypes, for hypocrisies. We're each looking for the chance to site articles or interviews or research so we can be right.  And when the wake subsides, regardless of where it trailed along the shore, deep down, both of us probably feel horrible about every single part of our interaction. 

At least, I know I do.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is important for one to stand up for his/her interpretation of truth and justice, but I think it is equally important for us to know how to do that. Issuing a round of verbal crossfire does not yield unilateral results. Spouting off the longest list of "facts" does not necessarily denote a victory, and tossing pseudo-intellectual quips toward someone who does not understand the sarcasm, does not make one unequivocally more right than their vulnerable opponent. 

It just makes that person feistier (and insufferably more arrogant).

And it often inspires a deeper trench between people. It does not bring anyone closer. It does not make anyone's point clearer. It does not increase the troops fighting for any one cause.

It just divides.

It makes the world louder and angrier. It raises walls capped with barbed wire spikes. It inspires shields and muffles ears and perpetuates toxic narratives. It gets attention, but it doesn't make people change.

If we want true change, we need to open ears and eyes and minds. We need to listen to one another: even if we disagree, even if we hate the other side, even if we think we know the answers.  We need to listen to the words, to the stories, to the subtext, to the ideas, to the emotions, to the feelings, to the fears, to the hopes, to the dreams, to the frustrations, to the obstacles. We need to share our ideas, but once we do, we need to sit down, zip our mouths, and listen. We need to temporarily halt our selfish whims so we can think about how our actions impact others. We need to make an effort to empathize with experiences, we need to consider other narratives, we need to accept the fact that the world might not be what we think it is.

Because maybe if we open up, maybe if we try to find common ground, maybe if we step outside of our own experiences, maybe if we let people speak even if they don't have all of the right words, maybe if we think about how our version of justice impacts theirs, maybe if we think about the consequences of both action and inaction, we might find a way to tear down the seemingly insurmountable barriers between us. 

See despite our differences, most of us just want what we perceive to be fair. We want what we think is right. And because we all have slightly different opinions about what that means, if we want to move forward, away from all of the noise, we need to consider a variety of interpretations of what right entails. 

We need to listen to both traditional and nontraditional voices. Really listen--not so we can trounce on stories, experiences or ideas by calling one another names--so we can learn why people feel the way they do. So we can escape flying fingers, cruel euphemisms, and glass shattering decibels, and actually arrive in a reasonable space where we can not just coexist but co-thrive. So we can feel safe enough to admit we have much to learn. So we can help our loud monologues evolve into constructive dialogues. So we can give our ideas a chance to inspire epiphanies and partnership and progress. So we can help our children find a way to begin smearing lines.

I don't know about you, but this is my goal for the final weeks of the year....and all the ones that follow.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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"This is a ball, and it is blue," I told Z conclusively, before realizing, seconds later, it was a lighter blue than the other one several balls away. 

"Oh! This one is also blue, but it's dark blue," I added, trying to figure out why the toy company had to use the same color on a toy that only needed five total options. 

"Darker means it has more pigment. So this is a dark blue because they put more blue color in it, and this is a light blue because they put less color in it. Does that make sense?"

Our nine month old just kept babbling and grabbing at objects. Of course it didn't make sense. He can say three words and he doesn't know what any of them mean. 

"And, well, ummm," I started again, thinking about where I wanted to take this, "we should call this a bead and not a ball. It has a hole in the center and it's moving on a wire bar, whereas an actual ball bounces and rolls. Mommy should not have called it a ball. I'm sorry if that confused you. It's a bead, a dark blue bead, and this one is orange, this one is yellow, this one is red, and this one is light blue..."

Shoot, maybe we should call the blues their actual colors so he doesn't get confused.

I promptly Googled shades of blue and held my computer close to the bead/balls.

"Okay, buddy. This bead is sapphire and this bead is baby blue."

But what about the cup? We've been telling him the cup is blue. Should we figure out its shade or should we just keep calling it blue? Which is more confusing? Will they have to know shades in preschool?

Mid-thought, Z decided to abandon the beads, and his fingers began caressing a panel of doors.

"Look at this buddy," I said rotating one them on its hinges.

"Open, shut, open, shut, open, shut."

He reached for the knob and began to swivel it on his own. 

"Open, shut, open, shut, open, shut," I continued, and after six swings of the door, he finally decided to stop and hold it open.

"Look inside," I told him, pointing to the image staring up from wood. "There's a zebra, and here is the word zebra. Zebra-Zebra. I know it's confusing, but this word says what this picture shows," I explained moving my finger back and forth between the image and the word.  "They both symbolize a real zebra."

He looked up at me and then reached for the knob.

"Hold on a minute," I told him, pressing my finger against the door. "Let's talk about colors too. This is black and this is white," I said, pointing to the stripes, but Z pushed away my hand, reached up, grabbed the wire bars, and dove head first into the side of the wood. 

Bam. Whahh. 

I couldn't blame him.

Mommy went totally and completely overboard. 

"I'm so sorry buddy," I said kissing his head and squeezing him tight. "I know it is so hard. Is it a zebra or is it black and white? Is it a frog or is it green? Is it a bead or a ball? Is it dark blue or sapphire? Oh my gosh. I have totally confused you." 

I tried to keep comforting him, but after seven seconds of cuddling, Z squirmed away, totally healed.

"Mommy will make it clearer next time," I promised, and then I bowed on my knees and worshiped the ground upon which early childhood educators walked. As a high school English teacher, I teach kids how to write literary analyses, how to create believable characters, and how to convincingly make a point, but as tough as that is sometimes, at least my kiddos have some words.  

Z had none. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

He had so much ground to gain. And the distance felt overwhelming. I wondered how anyone acquired words when they started with nothing. When they had to listen to language and collect it like marbles, when they had to ascribe meaning to sounds and string those sounds together to form thoughts. When they had to move next to the page, where letters represented noises that combined to capture ideas, and brains had to follow the curve and bend of a pen as it rose and fell and dotted its i's, spewing out scribbles that melded together like the sounds did, scribbles that formed words and sentences and paragraphs that captured the essence of something real. 

Life suddenly felt so heavy as I looked at him standing there, leaning against activity cube. As I thought about how much there was for him to learn, and how challenging it would be to figure out what was most important. But I had to start somewhere. I had to give him language so he could engage in the world.

Nouns and verbs, I thought, start there. The adjectives can come later. 

"Okay buddy, let's look at the animals," I started to say, but in a sudden swoop, Z reached forward, tightened his fingers around the wires and darted upward with his legs. He screamed at the top of his lungs and started laughing uncontrollably. Glee leaked from every corner of his skin. Standing on his tippy toes, he stretched out his tongue, and he gurgled, and drooled, and giggled like a maniac.

And in a flash--just like that--none of my previous concerns about language seemed important. In a flash, I dismissed all thoughts of zebras and frogs and colors and shapes and actions. And I squashed any remaining urge to explain to him that he was now standing. 

Instead, I scooted around beside him. 

"Happy," I said, grinning from ear to ear. "You're happy." 

I nuzzled my face up close so he could touch my cheeks and gaze into my eyes. 

"And Mommy's happy," I said, turning him around so I could kiss his cheeks.

"Happy," I said once more for good measure, and he waved his hands and squealed. Then he reached back and took hold of the wires, held himself up on his own two feet.

And as I watched him look up at me--standing proudly on his own--I realized I wasn't saying "happy" so he could hear the sound and test it out on his tongue. I didn't say it because the parenting guides listed it as appropriate, or because one of the characters looked happy on the page.

I was saying it because that's what his father and I want him to be. I was saying it because in that moment, it felt far more important than zebras and frogs and colors and wires and beads. I was saying it because I wanted him to remember how it felt to bask in the essence of joy, to laugh and celebrate, to cuddle, and kiss and dream. 

 
 

By Laura Moore

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My father dropped everything when I asked him to play catch. He put off chores, work, the desire to watch television, and even his hunger when I walked up to him and said, "Dad, can we throw?" 

Night after night, day after day, for nearly 2,190 straight days (from seventh grade through twelfth grade), my father dismissed any possible excuses, and--rain or shine, cold or heat, in sickness or in health--he grabbed his mitt, squatted forty feet away, and caught whatever I threw to him. This number, of course, would be higher if I included early childhood or college, but I choose 7th-12th grade because that time was the time I needed him the most.

During those years, I learned how to find the strike zone. I learned how throw a drop-curve and I learned how to deliver my rising screwball--on call--beneath a right-handed batter's chin. He helped me improve my leg drive. He told me when my release was impure. And he helped me figure out how to position my knuckle ball drop-curve an inch off the plate, six inches off the ground. We talked strategy for hours. We scouted the opposition. And we threw thousands of counts against hypothetical hitters. When he realized I was serious about improving, he drove me all over Central Ohio to meet with pitching coaches, all over the midwest to pitching camps and all over the country so I could test myself against the best of the best.

When I got married, our father-daughter song was Take Me Out to the Ballgame and we did our own dance to that song beneath the lights. My father grabbed his mitt, I grabbed mine, and right there on the dance floor, in a tux and a bustled wedding gown, we stood twenty feet apart, tossing the ball back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. Dancing the way we had for so many hours, on so many days, for so many years.

This all came to mind last week when I sat my eight and a half month old son five feet away on the floor and reached for an inflatable rubber ball that was virtually half his size. 

"Do you want to play catch?" I asked him and he got excited the way he gets with everything: waving his hands, flashing his grin, babbling like a maniac. 

"When I roll it to you, you need to catch it," I instructed, showing him what I meant with my hands. Then I sent the bouncy ball on a smooth path between his legs. Of course, I didn't expect him to actually catch it given the fact he couldn't possibly understand the exchange, but much to my surprise, when the ball arrived between his legs, little Z smacked both hands on top and held the ball still, looking up to see if I approved.

"Perfect," I screamed, "Nice catch!" 

An enormous smiled spread across my cheeks and the minute Z recognized he did something well, he grew intoxicatingly happy, waving his hands over the ball, belting out "dada," over and over like he does when he gets excited about anything. Once the immediate hysteria simmered down, he began to strike the rubber intentionally, smacking his hands against the surface four or five times, before one of those smacks incidentally sent the ball in a perfect line toward me. When I recognized that he threw it, my eyes and mouth rose; I gasped.

"Oh my goodness," I yelled. "That was so good! You threw it to me!" 

I trapped the ball when it arrived, and then I began cheer-clapping, repeating "Good job, buddy!" until he squealed back, waved his hands, and refocused his eyes. As soon as he appeared ready, I returned the ball in a smooth, straight line, and Z trapped it once more. Like the previous exchange, he initiated an enthusiastic, rubber-smacking regiment and the final smack sent the ball rolling in a straight line back toward me, back toward my fingers waving at him from five feet away. As it canvased the floor a second time--as it bridged the space between our legs--I could hardly contain my joy. Even if Z was unintentionally participating, I couldn't deny what was happening.

"You got it, kiddo!  We're playing catch!" I told him, grinning and glowing. 

"Grandpa and Mommy used to do this all the time," I explained, and though he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, much less what was going on, I recognized the magnitude of our "first." I recognized the transition between playtime involving me watching him swatting and smacking random objects, to us actually engaging in an activity. I recognized that our little baby was on the path toward becoming our little guy, and the joy I felt over that moment--over our first shared exchange--caused tears to summit my lower lid and streak my face like eyeblack.

We went back and forth eleven times before he got distracted, rolled over onto his belly and army crawled toward his squeaking caterpillar. And in those eleven exchanges, my childhood flashed before my eyes. In those eleven exchanges, I thought about family games of whiffle ball in the back yard. I thought about all of the miles my parents put on their cars to watch my brother and me compete on travel teams, to take us to camp, and to watch us play in college. I thought about my brother's football games, basketball games, and track meets. I thought about my mother opening up concession stands and sewing our outfield fence. I thought about both parents on the sidelines, and my brother racing from his track meets to cheer on my final pitches.

But mostly, I thought about all of the time I spent playing catch with my dad.  All of the time I spent several feet away from him, learning. Learning how to succeed on the pitcher's mound, but learning even more about how to succeed at life. Learning how to set goals, script dreams, and pursue opportunities. Learning how to overcome fear, insecurity and failure. Learning how to persevere through injuries and manage my time. Learning the value of sacrifice, hard work, and resilience.  And learning, above all, to say yes to the people you love. To prioritize them, to support them, to be there for them, to ensure they know--without a doubt--that no matter how defeated, how lonely or how heartbroken they feel, they will always have a catcher behind home plate, they will always have someone there waiting to receive them, to support them, to help direct them back into the zone.

As I watched my son bend and squeak the caterpillar, I thought about his first game of catch. And then I imagined his second and third and fourth, and I hoped, that even if he doesn't grow up to like baseball, he would still find his own form of exchange, his own way of reaching out, his own way of finding a sliver of life where he could comfortably learn and grow and imagine. Where he could feel strong enough to deal with pain and insecurity and fear. Where he could connect with us, his parents, and be certain of how much we love him. But mostly, I hoped that when the time came for me to pick up my mitt--be it figuratively or literally--I would have enough intuition to shout yes, to be standing there, a few feet away, ready to receive the ball.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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The thing I love most about teaching has nothing to do with my subject matter. While I enjoy discussing rhetorical devices, narrative voice and characterization, I cherish my life conversations above and beyond anything imbedded in the curriculum.  

This year, I'm taking a year off of teaching and devoting myself to writing. Unfortunately, that means I will miss out on the privileged opportunity to engage with a new group of kids and play some small part in their growth as human beings.  Since I won't be there to pass along my advice, I wanted to share it with you. 

Here are my top nine tips for cultivating happy, independent and successful kids:

1. Encourage Your Child to Get Involved
Extra curricular involvement often opens a thousand new doors for students. It boosts confidence, it exposes kids to new friendships, it gives them purpose, it teaches them life skills and it often makes for happier kids.  That all said, it's important for students to find balance in their lives. They shouldn't get so involved that they don't have time to fulfill their commitments, do their homework or sleep, but they need to be involved enough that they learn time management skills. If your son or daughter isn't interested in athletics, music or the arts, encourage him or her to join clubs, to volunteer in the community, to get a job or to participate in a cause he or she cares about. As an English teacher, I'd like to believe reading and writing skills will make the biggest difference in their lives, but I know that outside experiences often shake them up, fill them up and lift them up more than anything else.

2. Support Your Child as He or She Takes Risks
School is the perfect place for kids to learn how to take good risks, the kind of risks that expose them to healthy activities they never knew existed, talents they never knew they had and/or people they never knew went to school with them. Good risks are empowering because they require students to face insecurities, fear or doubt head on, and this confrontation teaches them that they are capable of overcoming challenges throughout their lives.  Encourage your son or daughter to submit artwork, publish his/her writing, audition for plays, try out for teams, run for office or advocate for an important cause. Challenge him or her to push boundaries, but be sure to create a safe place for your child to retreat if plans go awry or efforts fall a bit short of success. No matter how tough teenagers might seem, they all want to know their parents are still proud of them regardless of what they do or do not achieve (I know this because I read their journals!).

3. Help Your Child Develop Responsibility
While it is important for us to support our kids, we need to make sure we are not enabling them. Now that I have my own child, I understand how tempting it is to swoop in and tidy up problems in an effort to minimize drama, but the kids who seem to be the most successful in school are the ones who have embraced some level of autonomy. These kids have learned how to advocate for themselves, and they assume responsibility for their commitments, actions and words. They know Mom and Dad will not come swooping in to fix things, so they tend to make better decisions to avoid the problems in the first place. When they do make a mistake, they own it, and because of that, many teachers tend to cut them some slack.  When kids constantly get bailouts, they never learn why responsibility is important, and by persistently denying them the chance to learn, we are setting them up for failure later.

4. Ensure Your Child Honors His or Her Commitments
I try my best every year to talk to kids about the importance of honoring their commitments. If kids are part of a group they need to complete their portion of the work. If kids sign up to do something, they need to follow through. If they schedule a meeting with a teacher, it is important for them to show up. When they don't, their disregard makes every one else's life difficult.  When they do, the world just seems to work a little bit better.

5. Facilitate Discussions That Promote Resourcefulness
As a society, we no longer have the patience to sit and figure things out. We want immediate gratification, and we find it easier to move on, buy something quicker, ask someone else to fix our problem, or make an excuse about why we couldn't accomplish our goal. These tendencies have trickled down to our kids. Year after year, I notice a large concentration of students who hit a wall when their Plan A goes awry.  Instead of thinking through backup solutions, a lot of kids ask their parents to write notes and many times, parents write them without giving it a second thought. 

We all have busy lives, and I realize it is so much faster for adults to fix problems rather than facilitate discussions, but when we persistently solve dilemmas ourselves, we deny our children the opportunity to learn how to problem solve on their own.  With a little bit of prodding, most students can easily develop perfectly acceptable Plans B, C or D. And figuring out how to navigate game-time, adrenaline pumping moments when they're faced with an impending consequence teaches them how to respond and improvise under pressure. This will not only benefit them throughout their school years, it will come in handy when they're out in the work force and have a boss who will not find a parent note laden with excuses as an acceptable substitute for a job well done. 

6. Choose Positive Positive Language
This is hard. No matter how good any of us try to be, we are bound to run into people who like to pick fights, who are passionately against our beliefs, or who respond to situations in ways that do not mesh with how we think human beings should respond. We need to remember that the same is true for our kids. 

It is easy to bad mouth those who have wronged us or our kids, those who are unnecessarily difficult, or those who have created obstacles, but negative words tend to stick around a lot longer than positive ones. Kids learn how to talk to others, and how to talk about others, by listening to people they respect. If they hear loved ones badmouthing bosses, neighbors, relatives, teachers, classmates or coaches, they will feel entitled to do the same. While venting can sometimes be therapeutic, doing it in front of kids--even if those kids are in high school--carries long term consequences:  kids learn that they only need to be respectful to some people. As hard as it might be, the more we can model appropriate ways to respond to difficult people, the easier it will be for our children to learn language that will help them overcome and not exacerbate problems in their lives. 

7. Encourage Your Child to Embrace Kindness and Respect
It is easy to get caught up in gossip and drama, but the kids who rise above it seem to be the happiest. They respect adults, they empathize with peers and they see the best in people. They consistently treat others with respect and they generally err on the side of kindness.  When life ushers in a challenge, they are level-headed in their analysis, they are proactive in finding solutions, and regardless of the temptation to do otherwise, they are unwavering in their determination to maintain integrity.  This tends to inspire less regret, and often helps to avoid he-said/she-said banter intended to cast them in the center of an enormous controversy.  High school drama is inevitable, but learning how to rise above the pettiness tends to make that drama much less destructive.

8. Look for Opportunities to Learn
No matter how boring a teacher might seem or how pointless a class might appear, students have the opportunity to learn every time they take a seat, every time they open a book, and every time they put their thoughts on paper. School, just like life, is as interesting as we decide to make it. While teachers try to light their subject matter on fire, even the most engaging educators have off days, or days when they must tackle curriculum that is not quite as exciting. When this happens, challenge kids to find some nugget in the blob of boringness.  In an ideal world, the school day would teem with excitement, but even if we could pull that off, eventually, our kids would enter the real world, a space where they will have to do things they don't want to do, and endure interactions they don't want to have. At some point, successful people decide to bare down, make the most of their situation and do what they need to do so they can have the opportunity to do what they want to do later.

9. Get to Know Your Teacher
Encourage your child to get to know his or her teacher. Despite the fact that educators have a variety of methods for gauging where are kids are academically, emotionally and socially, they can sometimes miss the discreet struggles that hover beneath the surface. It is much harder to know the student who dashes toward his seat the second the starting bell rings, or runs out of the room the moment the ending bell sounds. The students who engage with us between classes, during office hours, before or after school or during lunch tend to get much more out of our classes than the kids we track down during our planning period every couple of weeks when we have a few spare minutes. Teachers love helping kids, so encourage your sons and daughters to take advantage of the opportunity to get extra help, advice or support. 

The same goes for parents. If you ever have a concern about your child, please reach out and communicate with teachers. After all, we have the same goal: to help your son or daughter grow into the best human being he or she can be.