New Beginnings

So this past Friday I had the opportunity to meet dozens of new students and their families who have just recently arrived from all over the world to our amazing school, and it got me thinking about new beginnings. There is not much in the world that I love more than a fresh start and a clean slate, as they always come dripping with opportunity, possibility, excitement, and promise. That said, a new beginning is also in many cases steeped in apprehension, anxiety, and a huge fear of the unknown, which can be nerve-wracking regardless of your attitude or perspective. I spent Friday morning talking about this with the new students, and assuring them that over time they will settle into a routine, find some wonderful friends, and eventually find their way…of course, as I was promising them all of this I was really trying to reassure myself because I’m new too, and I’m feeling exactly the same way as they are.

The thing about new beginnings is that they are everywhere, all around us, all the time. From the moment we step out of bed in the morning to the time we pull the covers over us at night we are given an opportunity to make a fresh start, and if you microscope it down and get philosophical about it you could say that each passing moment is a clean slate, and a chance to do things better. Anyway, for all of our students this year, regardless of whether they are new to the school or not, there is a new beginning at their doorstep, and an opportunity to make this year the best one of their lives…a chance to be the students and the people that they have the potential to become, and when I stop and think about it, that’s where we as educators come in. We have the ability to alter the lives and experiences of each and every one of our kids, and to give them the start that they are all dreaming about and hoping for. Every interaction that we have with our students over the next few weeks will shape their attitudes toward the year, and it is our responsibility to go out of our way to ensure that their new beginnings are  incredibly positive ones, so that the time that it takes to find their way shrinks down to hours and days instead of weeks and months.

I know that we are all working hard to plan the upcoming weeks, and I know that lesson plans, curriculum, and schedules are at the forefront of our minds but if I’m being honest, it’s not about us come Monday morning…it’s about our kids and THEIR new beginnings. Inevitably we will all encounter some frustrations over the next few weeks with things that we cannot control like technology, maintenance issues, and the possible changing of class lists, but we all need to manage this in such a way that it doesn’t distract us from what’s really important…our students and their learning and their emotional well-being. I’m asking you all to be completely invested in developing solid relationships with our kids as we begin the year, and in being the role models, mentors, and change agents that you are for the young people who are desperate for a positive new beginning. Remember, this is a new beginning for all of us as well…a chance to put the past behind us and to become the best educators we can be in 2014-15. People say that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and you only get one chance to embrace a new beginning, so how will you embrace it starting tomorrow? Think about that as the students arrive on Monday and be your best self…your new self for our community, our students, and each other. I’m honored, proud, and excited to start this new journey with all of you and I know it’s going to be an amazing year. With the quality of people and educators that we have here at Academia Cotopaxi, how can it not be? Our students are about to find out how truly blessed that they are!

Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. If you’re new to these weekly posts, and keen to see how they have developed over the past 4 years then please go to the following blog site to see what’s been on my mind (www.mondaymusings.org). I love new beginnings!

 Quote of the Week…

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone – Anonymous

 Inspiring TED Talk – Clint Smith (The Danger of Silence)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiKtZgImdlY

 The Science of Happiness – Thanks Bret Olson!

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4ALRY5LyBM

 Articles – (Starting the year strong)

http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/columnists/jones/jones019.shtml

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/proactive-strategies-collaborate-early-often-terrell-heick

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/aug/20/teacher-wellbeing-how-to-prepare-for-new-school-year

http://www.teach-nology.com/ideas/start_year/

http://teacher.scholastic.com/back_to_school/

http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/de/resources/firstweeklinks/index.htm

http://www.nea.org/tools/33-ways-to-start-the-first-year-off-right.html

http://www.ilovethatteachingidea.com/ideas/subj_first_day.htm

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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