Welcome Students and Parents!
I hope everyone had a fun, safe and overall great summer as well as a good first few weeks of school. Students need time to relax and refresh for a new year and I hope everyone feels as ready for a new school year as I do. Last year I taught many juniors and seniors in physics as well as freshman honors biology so I do not know many of you, but we will soon become very well acquainted. If you are a parent, please do not ever hesitate to email me at Jeff.Batey@D214.org or send me a voicemail at 847.718.5862.
I have been teaching for five years now and I realize I have a lot of learning to do yet, but over these few years, I have come to realize that there are a few points I would like to convey to students that I feel are some of the most important. There are many, many points and I could go on and on about how to be successful, but I am realistic - you do not want to hear/read them all, I do not know everything about them, and I cannot throw too many challenges at you at once before you simply say “forget this guy” ...or worse. This list is my challenge to you for now, this year, your school career and hopefully longer. Challenge yourself, challenge your friends, challenge your family, your teachers, your coaches and anyone else important to you with the following:
Be Cool with EVERYONE!
This is simply the most important point I can stress. Why? “Why is this the most important point?” you may be wondering. It is because you need to know people all bring something special to share with society and people are worth a lot - simply because they are who they are.
You never know someone’s background fully. It’s likely that you know those “cool kids” that everyone wants to be around and you also know the “losers” that you wouldn’t want to go anywhere near for fear that you might “be like them” if you were seen with them. You know who the “naturally smart kid” is and you know the “slacker,” the “jock,” the “geek,” the whatever... Do you know ‘them’ though? You know their reputation and you somehow know what to think of them. Stop and think for a moment though. Do you know them? Seriously. Them for who they are as a person. Have you ever stopped to think about why you stamped them with a label that has now followed them for a year, four years, ten years, or maybe even near their entire lifetime? Chances are you cannot and will not figure out why for sure. What is your label? Was it or is it fair or even remotely accurate? Is that the only way you would want people to think of you? Chances are no. So stop writing people off for what you see on the surface and be cool with everyone.
Did you know that maybe that “loser” is maybe working on learning learning something really cool that you just can’t admit in high school is significant? Maybe they are learning something “geeky” now that will lead them to discovering a major cure for a terrible illness some day. Or, maybe the “cool guy/girl” that plays school off is actually working on learning a software language that is leading them closer and closer to discovering the next major security algorithm that could protect millions from having their life earnings stolen? Maybe that “naturally smart kid” has been going for tutoring for years and school is the most difficult thing for, but he or she strives for success and will eventually meet with success no matter how hard it comes. Maybe that “slacker” wants to do well in school but just doesn’t have the time to study because he has a job 25 hours a week that helps his family put food on the table or she is watching over 5 young family members while both mom and dad work to make enough money to pay for the family house that’s close to foreclosure. Do you really know anywhere near what you think you do about that person? Keep an open mind to everyone. They have a much greater background than you can ever imagine and they are someone - someone who is special and someone you have a lot to learn from and has a lot to learn from you.
Have a Sense of SELF-WORTH
You are worth something. You are worth a lot. More than you can ever imagine. Believe it. In a world that is overcome with money, top 100 billboard charts, athletic rankings, academic rankings, and whatever million other competitive rankings I have not included here (for mainly your and my own sanity) there is not another you. You are the best at being you and you should be proud of that. Simple as that. Maybe you don’t even know why you should be proud of being who you are yet, but trust me and a host of other people who believe the same thing - you will figure it out. Start looking at what you have to offer. It can be as simple as “I am a great listener.” Chances are you being that “great listener” impacted someone in a way you will never ever know or even be able to fathom but it did and you were worth something huge because you are who you are.
Reach OUTSIDE your Comfort Zone
One of the best experiences of my life aside from meeting my wife and the birth of my two boys had to do with escaping the comfort of my quiet and overall introverted-nature and diving into teaching in foreign countries. I didn’t say “most fun” or “most comfortable.” In fact it was darn scary, but amazing at the same time. I changed the course of my career because of it. I never would have began teaching without stepping outside what I knew as comfortable, and I cannot believe how different my life could have been. Reach outside of your comfort zone. I will guarantee you it will be uncomfortable, it will be scary, but it will also be rewarding, cause insight into things you never even thought of and quite possibly be one of the best things you will ever do!
Be Okay with Frustration
Life is frustrating. Period! The hardest thing you ever did when you were born was take that single first breath of fresh air. It was painful and you struggled, but you got over it. You were beyond frustrated when you fell over a hundred times before you finally got up on your hands and knees and crawled. Later (maybe even yesterday) you were frustrated when you could not for the life of you figure out why you could not get online to check your digital life, but again you troubleshot the obstacle and got over it. Frustration is okay. It is better than okay. It is good. You learn by getting frustrated, figuring out why you are frustrated, figuring out how to troubleshoot to get over your frustration, and then finally solving your problem and overcoming your frustration. And, as a bonus you will feel great about it at the same time. The greatest minds of our time are not the ones that have met with instant success, they are those that have tolerated and overcame frustration over and over and over again.
INTERNALIZE New Information & APPLY it
You cannot get away with memorization. We have all been taught for years to “learn” new information by memorizing it. There is no doubt, memorization is necessary in some minimal extent with just about any subject, but it is far different from authentic learning. Did you memorize a preconceived conversation before you came to school today that you would have with your friends and did you memorize a specific response you would give if you were asked by your friend “How was that movie last night”? Of course not. Why have we been taught so long then that there is one right answer that must be repeated back on a test. You learned english and you apply it everyday. Chances are you are not making sure to include a subject and predicate in your written or spoken sentences, but you do anyway because you have internalized language constructs and now apply them without even thinking about it. Do the same with whatever you learn. Not just in this class, but with whatever you do. If you cannot apply information to your own life experiences in some meaningful or abstract way and internalize how to use it you will not retain it for hardly any time whatsoever. The stranger the connections are that you make with newly learned information the longer it is that you remember that information - so go ahead and stretch your imagination to how material connects with you.
Set REALISTIC Goals
This seems obvious, but seriously, DO IT! Set short term goals, set some longer goals, set some really long ones and strive to meet them. What is your goal for today? Make it meaningful and realistic. You are most likely not going to win a Nobel Prize today so don’t aim for that for today. It may be a very meaningful accomplishment to you at some point but not very realistic for the end of today. At the same time “just getting through this class” is pretty realistic but not very meaningful. A great goal that is both meaningful and realistic could be “I want to know what each person in my group does for fun so I can get to know how they may relate to me a little better.” A great long term goal may be that you want to earn that Nobel Prize. Set some goals for a few years - “I want to graduate college with at least a 3.8 GPA so I can go to a good vet school” or “I want to open my own mechanic shop and I will do X, Y and Z to do it.” Set some goals for the end of high school - “I want to get into a college” or “I want to get into (insert favorite college here).” Set some goals for your life - “I want to be inspirational to students” or “I want a big house.” Whether material in nature or, much more importantly, intrinsic in nature goals are important to have. They will keep you on track now and keep you on track towards a more successful future.
Do QUALITY Work
A person’s quality of work says a lot about them. I already know what you are thinking and the answer is “yes - even that seemingly insignificant small assignment.” If you are a person that works hard and strives for quality in everything you do, you are a person that will almost be guaranteed to be successful. I say almost because there are the few oddball stories you here of the homeless person with two masters who worked their life to do quality things or the multi-billionaire that became that way because of stumbling upon a new technology randomly without working towards that goal even. Those are rare cases though and your level of commitment to quality work now will directly correlate with your success throughout life. If you are someone who commits to doing quality work and exudes that trait people will notice and will look to you for ways of emulating your success. Any career path you take eventually will demand that you conduct quality work. You will need to rise to the occasion or you will be passed by for the next person that is not only willing, but accustomed to doing higher quality work. You may as well determine what quality work is now and conduct quality work on even those “trivial” assignments as practice for the real world.
You are responsible for your own actions, your viewpoints and your interactions with others. Be accountable to yourself. Don’t make excuses for your circumstances, don’t put your faults upon others. Accept the circumstances you have been dealt and celebrate them if they are great and overcome them if they are not. You have a responsibility to continue being successful if you are already. You have a responsibility to strive for success if you feel you are not currently successful. You may live in the best of circumstances and have every means provided for you. Be successful so that you can continue providing every means possible for your own family some day. You may live in what you feel is the worst environment possible, but you have a responsibility to always make the best of your situation. Even when it seems impossible, you have a responsibility to make a change in your own life.
I hope you take these points into consideration because I know they will help. If you ever need to speak with me, please do not hesitate. I am here to help you. My seminar is C224, my prep blocks are 2, 4 and 5, and I have A lunch both days. I am also available both before and after school. Outside of school you can always email me or call my voicemail which goes straight to my email and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Gear up for the year. It's going to be great.