Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dear Future 7th Grader – Part II (Trina Cornell)

This is the second wonderful part of a seried by my awesome friend, Trina Cormell! Continued prayers for me in Vietnam, please!

As I shared previously, I have been a middle school teacher for my entire teaching career.  I have just finished my eighth school year of teaching, and my third year of teaching 7th grade English/Language Arts.  7th grade is an interesting age for students – they are learning more about themselves, how to take responsibility for their actions, and who they ultimately want to be.  Many people, when they find out that I teach middle school, say things like, “Bless you,” and “I will pray for you,” citing the difficulty of the middle school age.  I would not teach any other grade – my passion is teaching these young men and women.  My goal is to not only teach them about school subjects, but about life – and how to be the best citizens that they can be.

As an end-of-the-year project, I asked my five English/Language Arts classes to complete the following assignment.

You are on the home stretch of your 7th grade year – you are so close to being in 8th grade!  There is a whole new group of 7th graders that will be in your place next year.  If you could tell them anything about 7th grade, what would you tell them?  

Write a friendly letter on a lined piece of paper and share AT LEAST FIVE THINGS that they should know about 7th grade.

Make sure your letter includes the following:
Today’s date
A greeting – Dear Future 7th Grader, (with a comma after “Grader”)
Indent the first line of your letter – write in complete sentences!
A closing – Sincerely, (with a comma after the word)
Your signature under the closing

Make sure you brainstorm ideas before you begin to write you letter!

I explained to my students that they had something to say to the up-and-coming 7th graders – words of advice and encouragement for those coming to “fill their shoes.”  The responses I received from my students were all over the place – from funny to thoughtful to deeply insightful.  Many students shared cautionary tales to persuade their readers to not make the same mistakes, while others shared tips and suggestions for a successful 7th grade year.

The most intriguing suggestions came from some of my best writers and deepest thinkers; little do they know, many of their tips and suggestions have a Biblical application.

Do not give up – be persistent.
The Bible spends a great deal of time talking about perseverance and not giving up.  The Christian life is not an easy life to live – we face many trials and challenges along the way.  Romans 5:3-5 says, “And that’s not all.  We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on.  The strength to go on produces character.  Character produces hope.  And hope will never let us down.”  Many aspects of middle school –classes, grades, friends, and the like – present challenges to the middle school mind.  I encourage my students, even when they feel like quitting, to persevere – to push themselves to be better.  The Lord does the same for us – He knows life can be tough, but He lets us know that we will grow from our experiences – and be better because of them.    

Have a smile on your face and put one on others.
Smiles are contagious – smiling at someone has the power to brighten someone’s day and create positive attitudes in others.  Smiles are also encouraging – they seem to come from others just when they are needed.  Remember times when you have received that note in the mail – that text message from a friend – that truly warmed your heart.  

Barnabas knew all about the power of encouragement; Acts 11:22-24 says, “The church in Jerusalem heard about this.  So they sent Barnabas to Antioch.  When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad.  He told them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  Barnabas was a good man.  He was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  Large numbers of people came to know the Lord.”  If a smile has this kind of power, we should definitely do it more often!

You will be a leader – people are watching you.
At the end of their 7th grade year, students start to understand their personal impact on others.  They see the 6th graders coming up behind them, and the 8th graders moving out – and they move into 8th grade, as the new leaders of the school.  The younger students watch how they act and listen to what they say.  Paul wrote to Timothy in his first letter, in chapter 4, verse 12:  “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”  Paul understood the leadership role in which Timothy had been placed, and encouraged him to be bold in his work, not using his age or maturity as an excuse.  As students learn more about themselves, they find that they have leadership potential – and find positive ways in which to use it.  

From the mouths of children…comes a great deal of wisdom!

God bless, Steve Luke 18:1 Email me at

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