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Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Good Advice From Teachers (That Aren’t Grumpy Prof)

Written by Lindsay Botterill

We all miss Grumpy Prof and his disgruntled yet sage student advice. Maybe we should start a petition to bring him back? What do you think?

The past few weeks I have been interviewing several of my favourite teachers and asking them for advice. Asking advice for us. Some advice that is a little, you know, less grumpy.

My question: What advice would you give to students on how to make the best out of their school experience?

I have narrowed down the countless responses I received to the top six. And I challenge you to try and use at least one of these tips when you’re feeling down and out about school.

“Turn judgment into curiosity”

This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. My psychology teacher, Alana Hounsell, encourages her students to ask questions instead of immediately jumping to conclusions. For example, if someone cuts you off while driving, perhaps they were having a rough day and didn’t even notice you! It’s so easy for us to jump to conclusions about people. But in the end, if everybody took the time to keep an open mind, maybe we would all have a better understanding of one another. So, next time you are judging someone for their actions or appearance, stop yourself for a secondand be curious instead.

“Surround yourself with unique people”

Whenever you walk into a room, who do you sit with? Most likely your friends. We all have our comfort zones, and few people are really willing to go outside of it. But going outside “your comfort zone is where the magic happens.” It’s pretty “easy to get tied down with the same group of people,” says James Franssen, my social studies teacher. However, when you step outside that group you’ll be surprised! “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone,” but by surrounding yourself with unique people, you’ll challenge yourself and maybe learn something new.

No, scratch that, you will learn something new.

“Check your attitude at the door”

Sure, some days can be tough, Alana Hounsell concedes. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, or you were working late; but just because you’re tired, doesn’t mean your whole day is going to be a write-off. Take a moment and pause before you walk into school. Breath, smile and face the day head-on.

“Accept yourself”

Be yourself. This may sound cliché but ultimately this is such a relevant piece of advice. “You exist as you are,” Hounsell says, so accept yourself for all your flaws and imperfections. Nobody is perfect, which means no one has the right to criticize you. Not everyone is going to like you, and you’re not going to like everyone. So, learn to accept and understand who you are.

“This is your experience”

No matter what friends you make, what classes you take, or what teachers you have, this journey is yours, says Cyril Augustin. We all tend to make excuses and complain about how others did something to make our day shitty, but really, it’s all up to you.

We’ve all heard the phrases…

“The teacher barely went over that!”

“Did we even learn that!?”

“But, but… I studied the whole night!”

There are no excuses (OK, well maybe a couple). We tend to blame others. So, recognize that you, and only you, are truly responsible for your school experience. If you want a better test score, ask your teacher for help! Don’t waste your time studying something that you know you won’t understand. If you want to be more involved in school activities, take charge, ask the leader of a club or create your own! Whatever it is, do not rely on someone else to change things for you. They can certainly help, but you have to take the initiative. Do it.

“The door is never firmly closed”

The final piece of advice came from one of the most inspiring teachers I’ve ever had: Graham Johnson.

In school, students expend immense amounts of energy on their grades, worrying that they may not be good enough for their parents or university. Honestly, I used to be terrified of getting a B, simply because a lot of my friends were earning A’s all the time. I was told that universities would look at my grades from Grade 10-12 and if they weren’t good enough, then I wouldn’t get in.

Now that I am in Grade 12, I see things a little differently. Of course grades are important. I’m certainly not saying they aren’t. But I think everyone needs to take a step back and realize that they are not the most important thing (especially when applying for scholarships). If you’re not satisfied with a mark you receive, talk to the teacher and find out what went wrong. How can you improve for the next assignment?

Maybe you didn’t get offered the job you wanted, or you don’t have enough money to go on a trip. Whatever it is, figure out a solution. Hard work and dedication will pay off. The door is never firmly closed.

But if all else fails, go through the window.

Have you received any great advice from someone (teacher, parent, friend)? If so, comment below! 

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.