One of the greatest ways to connect with kids/teens is to be familiar with some of the ‘pop culture’ media they adore. This does NOT require you to watch MTV or catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. I am referring to classic teenage fare. For example, in my day, one of the classic movies was, The Goonies. If an adult quoted a line from that movie, we were ultimately impressed and then hung on every word that adult had to say from then until eternity. During my teaching career, one of the best movies I could quote that would ‘suck in’ the kids was, The Sandlot. It’s awesome! Some days in class, all I had to do was say, “You’re killin’ me!…” and half of the class would reply, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”
One of the other classic lines from that movie happens when the group of boys sleepover in the clubhouse and “Squints” tells the story of, “The Beast”. Long story short… in the tragic tale, the authorities declare that “The Beast” had to be locked up: “Forever…. Forever… FOREVER!!!” And, of course the camera zooms in closer to Squints’ face each time he reiterates the sentiment. Anyone who has seen the movie knows what you mean when you say something is, “Forever…” etc. in Squints’ voice. It is a final say.
One of Miller’s Laws is that, “When You’re Mine, You’re Mine FOREVER….” There’s no argument about it. I will follow up on you long after you have left my classroom. I will find out if you are passing your classes at the high school. I will find out if you are going to graduate, and if there is a chance that you might not, I’m going to track you down and we will be having a discussion about what your future is going to hold. It’s one of the realities of being one of Miller’s kids. The vast majority of my kids come to accept this reality, and many find comfort in it. However, a select few of my kids come to depend upon it.
These kiddos I’m thinking of have graduated high school, some have graduated college, most are in the working world (notice I do not use the phrase, “real world”—that’s a whole different article….), and they are still in contact with me because they still need an adult in their lives upon whom they can depend to listen, to sympathize, to forgive, to write letters of recommendation, to edit cover letters…. Whatever they need. But here’s a really cool factor: You can ask for their help, too. With technology booming like it is, this old bird can’t keep up, but when I get stuck, I can turn to my kids with questions, and they immediately respond. There is ‘testimony’ there: A child I never even had in class—We were hall buddies when she was in Jr. High—has spent almost three hours trying to help me fix a computer problem. She’s invited me to her son’s birthday party. It is evidence that when you send the message that, “When you’re mine, you’re mine FOREVER… ”, the kids who need to hear that message take it to heart and hold on to it. As long as you’re sincere and follow through, it is the best gift you can give to any teen.