So we’re two weeks into the new school year and I feel really good. The first couple of weeks sets the tone for the year in so many ways, and getting off to a positive start is so important when framing the attitude and experience of both teachers and students as the weeks begin to roll on. I spent a lot of time over the past 10 days thinking about what it is that I truly love about the beginning of a new year, and I came up with a quick top 5 list that I would like to share. Feel free to add to this list from your own perspective, so together we can celebrate the beauty and opportunity that a new school year brings to us all…here we go.
1. The Arrival – I’m not sure there is a better day in the year than the first day of school. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer holidays as much as the rest of you but there comes a time when I really start to miss the kids. Standing there in the courtyard and waiting for the buses to arrive is so exciting for me, and when I see them spill out of the doors my heart almost bursts with excitement. I love watching them re-connect with their friends, and I love how eager, nervous, excited, and anxious they all are to begin this new chapter in their lives. There’s no better feeling in the world than when a student runs up and embraces you in a hug and starts telling you all about their summer adventures. It always brings me back to why I love teaching so much, and it makes me wonder how and why other people choose to do something else with their lives. I don’t understand how someone would want to do something else besides spending their days with kids…strange.
2. The Relationships – I love walking around during recess and lunch and watching our kids interact with each other. It’s amazing to watch the new friendships form, and the old friendships deepen, and to witness those courageous interactions when kids put themselves out there to try and fit in. I love popping into classrooms and watching how hard our teachers are working to give our kids the start that they deserve, and the effort that they are making to build that ever so important relationship foundation which will carry them through the year. Finally, what is more inspiring than watching a student walk over to a new kid who is nervously sitting alone, and sit down next to them with a smile…or to ask them to join their table group. I’ve seen this a lot over the past two weeks at our school and it makes me ridiculously proud. I’ve seen teachers do the same as well, and it brings me back to what is really important in education…the relationships.
3. The Collaboration – In many ways, the start of a new year brings out the best in educators. I find so much joy in watching (and taking part) in the collaborative conversations that happen throughout the school days all around how to set up the best possible situations for student learning to blossom. I listen to conversations around formative assessments, and peer and self assessments, and learning targets, and data analysis, and around finding ways for students to own their own learning, and around inquiry, and personalized learning and extensions/interventions for kids, and all the rest…and it’s awesome. We are so much stronger as a school when we work together for the betterment of OUR kids, and watching these collaborative sessions truly makes me smile. I love how open we all are to push in to each other’s rooms, and to team teach, and to work together to find ways to engage students…and to inspire them to learn.
4. The Struggle – I love watching kids struggle a little bit, and get pushed out of their comfort zones. I love watching the messiness of adolescence and the growth that happens when kids make mistakes. I love watching kids take risks and fail…and succeed, and I love how a new school year brings all of that out in kids in very profound ways. The beginning of a new school year is hard for kids as they transition to new grade levels and encounter new and scary situations. New teachers, new expectations, new classmates, new learning, and new developmental curiosities. The beauty of school, and being young and growing, is this struggle and watching it unfold before our eyes is a gift that never stops giving. A young person’s life burns so bright, and this burning is on display every second of every day…it’s beautiful if you take the time to become a part of it. Real learning often happens outside of the classroom with kids, and as educators we have the incredible opportunity to teach, to learn, and to be role models as our kids struggle to find out who they can be for our world.
5. Turning the Corner – There comes a time when the “start of the year” is officially over, and we fall into our daily routines. Kids and teachers turn the corner so to speak, and we find a certain level of comfort with our days. Relationships have been formed, schedules have been memorized, expectations have been set, and we move on to the work that lies ahead. We begin to dig deep into the curriculum, we have accessed prior knowledge, we have a sense of where to go with each student, and we begin to settle into the year. This often happens after the second or third week in my experience, and it’s a good feeling…especially if the first two weeks have gone according to plan. It feels good to be in this place honestly, and for us it finishes with the Back to School night with our parents this week. We get to showcase our programs and celebrate the work that we’ve done to make this our best year yet. There is such a positive feeling when you turn the corner successfully, and I’m proud to say that we’re almost there. Now it’s just a matter of keeping that positive feeling going, and sustaining that outstanding effort as we speed toward autumn…that’s certainly a lot easier when the first two or three weeks of the year have been amazing…and for us they definitively have been that!
Have a wonderful week everyone and send me a few more reasons why you love the start of a new school year…I’d love to hear them. Remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…
The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows – Sydney J. Harris
Inspiring Videos –
Great TED Talk –
Good Articles to Frame Your Year –