Our superintendent likes to wish our district a Happy New Year every fall when we return to school. The beautiful dissonance of the saying under the summer sun is a nice example of what’s it’s like to be an educator. While many families are cramming one more trip into the waning days of summer, teachers, counselors, and administrators are busy preparing for the opening of school, cleaning, photocopying, and planning how we’ll greet our students on August 26th. While many professions see their year begin with the first month of the calendar, we have the opportunity to start fresh every August. No matter how things ended in June, no matter what happened the school year before, no matter what changes have come about over the summer, we open our doors with a spirit of renewal. This just might be the best year ever, we think. This could be the year I…
…make a difference for a student who needs me to make a difference. Our work at schools is done with and for kids. For some it’s our structure that guides them, for others it’s our love. For all the possibilities are great and it’s in our work together that this potential becomes reality. We begin each school year not knowing whose trajectory will be influenced by what we do in our classrooms, and this could be the year that we make a difference in a young person’s life that we can’t even imagine. There may be no greater feeling of anticipation than standing on the doorstep of a new school year ready to step into the classroom with the young strangers who will become our working life.
…help a parent support her child. Parenting is hard work and parenting middle school students is harder still. While the payoff of strong parenting is great, its not always immediate, and as educators we sometimes do our best work when we help parents see in their students something they haven’t seen before, or help them see that the challenges of the middle years are temporary, and that in the end, we’ll be okay. Our work with parents is huge, and as educators work as partners with moms and dads, grandparents and guardians, we help students and families make the transition from elementary school to high school and beyond. We truly are a team, and together we are the greatest support any student can ever have.
…connect with colleagues. More than ever teachers are working with each other to develop curriculum, implement the common core state standards, and support students. This could be the year that that collaboration becomes our way of life, when conversations about this adventure that is education knit us together as a professional family. This could be the year we support each other and feel that support in transformative ways.
This could be the best year ever, and on the eve of this new year (in August) I’m feeling the excitement of possibility. I look forward to the opportunities we have ahead of us. Not everything will go as planned; how boring would it be if it did, but as the school year stretches ahead of us like a winding road I’m excited about the journey.
I am an optimist not because I believe things will be easy, but because I believe that we have the capacity to handle any situation we face. All will be well, not by accident, but because we make it so.
That said, to students, teachers, parents, and colleagues, I’ll join my superintendent in saying: “Happy New Year!”