Dear Terrence,

You’re trying to change — I see that. Between the two of us, I was warned about you. Well, warned is not the right word. “You’ll want to have a good relationship from the start with him because it might go south in a hurry,” which is not really a warning but some advice. So far, though, I haven’t seen any indication that it’s going to head south. We’re getting along fine, and you’re accepting my occasional criticism of your behavior very well and trying to implement it.

You have a problem with another teacher, though: she taught you last year, and it seems she’s excepting the same Terrence she had last year. The bad thing about a bad reputation is that it colors everything someone sees about you, makes teachers expect the worst from you even when you’re trying your best. You’ve taught them what to expect, which means you’ve taught them how to treat you. Remember the saying about old dogs and new tricks? That’s what you’re facing now, to some degree.

But you’re sincere in your desire to change, right? You really want this year — and every year after — to be different, right? I believe you. Now you just have to make her believe you. It won’t be easy, but it can begin easily enough: just talk to her. “Ms. Smith, I know I made very bad decisions in your class last year, but I’m trying to change.” Tell her, point blank. And then back it up with words. You’ll find soon enough that she’ll happily help coach you through this change.

Want it; show it. That simple. And be patient when the two of you fall back into old habits. And then talk about it again.

Change is hard, but you can do it.

Always on your side,
Your Teacher


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