“Every day is a gift with a child, no matter what problems you have.”
-Carol Ann Duffy
Monday is the first day for students in our district. How excited they must be! Anticipation and hope well up in the hearts of children and parents on the eve of a new school year. New clothes, new shoes, and fresh supplies make for a restless night of sleep. Our families send their best to our schools and they deserve our best in return. Giving our students the best means:
Being a safe place for children to learn, grow, and challenge themselves.
Establishing routines and expectations that promote active learning.
Showing a passion for learning that is contagious and enduring.
Taking the time to know students on a personal level; their likes, dislikes, fears, and strengths.
Great teachers and school leaders know that children learn best when they feel a connection to their school, their teacher, and their classmates. These values are not found in state standards or in textbooks, but they are equally, if not more important.
Let’s make sure that we give our teachers the freedom to establish welcoming classrooms that value the individuality of every child. Before we turn our focus to collecting data, let’s show students that we care deeply about the unique and amazing individuals they are.
“Renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling”
Our teachers return to school next week. They’ll spend the week preparing their rooms, getting to know new colleagues, and participating in many staff development opportunities. Of course, they will be most excited to get ready for and meet their new students. One of the greatest parts of working in education is the sense of renewal that comes with the start of the school year. The excitement is palpable as custodians clean, teachers put names on desks, and grade level teams begin planning for instruction.
I am sure that other professions experience feelings of renewal, but in teaching we get that opportunity every year. No matter how challenging the previous year was, we begin the new school year with high hopes, aspirations, and dreams. As Deborah Day notes above, renewal only requires that we open ourselves up to new ways of thinking and feeling. What an awesome notion! All we have to do is consider the possibilities.
Once the possibilities are considered, human nature takes over and we have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. If we were disorganized, we can become organized. If we lacked energy, we can become more energetic. If we were an average teacher, we can do better or even become great! August and September are the times to consciously decide what the year will be like and then work for it.
Our students deserve teachers who re-commit themselves to their profession at the start of the school year. Thankfully, I see teachers who do this with grace and consistency every year. They welcome their new students with open and accepting arms, provide structure and support, and take them to places they have never been before. They build independent learners who are self-sufficient in the pursuit of knowledge.
Let’s salute and celebrate the teachers who come back with a rejuvenated energy for the profession they love. They are the ones who will make a difference in the lives of our students. They are the ones who remind us of the value of renewal in teaching.