The start of a new school year can bring about many different emotions: excitement, fear, optimism, stress, anxiety. But no one can deny that there is a buzz in the air as we all rush back and forth in preparation, buying this, cutting out that, copies being made, and seating charts being drawn. And let’s not forget the time and effort that is put into picking out that first day of school outfit. (Yes, teachers do it, too). None of us knows what the new school year will bring, but I know that I, like most teachers, am praying for this to be the best school year yet (especially since I am starting at a new school, with new colleagues, and new students).
So today, the day before I start my 17th year of teaching (can’t believe it’s been this long), I want to offer encouragement to all of the teachers whether you are about to start your first year or your forty-first.
I pray that each and every one of us will start this year with the same optimism and energy that we had on that day when we first declared that we were going to become educators, when we knew that we were going to walk into a classroom and change lives. This job is not for the faint of heart, but it is for those who truly want to make a difference in the world.
I pray we will treat each day as a new day, not allowing any of our frustrations from the day before to get in the way of the day ahead of us.
I pray that we will treat every child as if he or she is our own, giving them the same opportunity for a great education as we would want for our own children.
I pray that we will continue to create innovating and engaging lessons for our students, having high expectations, and demanding excellence from them all.
I pray that we won’t let the way educators are being treated by those who have never been in the classroom or seem to have forgotten what it’s like to be in the classroom to taint the way we feel about our profession.
Because you know how it feels to be in the front of that classroom with 25 sets of eyes on you intently listening to what you’re saying. You know how it is to sit one-on-one with that child who just told you they didn’t understand the lesson and then see the joy on his or her face as he or she finally “gets” it. You know how it is to see that child in the hallway who gets excited to see you and runs up to you and hugs you as if you were a parent or best friend. You know how it is to have that child feel comfortable enough to share his or her heartache and tears with you, confident that you can make it all better. You know how it is to finish teaching a class and feel like, “Wow! They really got it today!”
These are the reasons we became teachers.
And these are the things that I want us to remember when the days get hard, when we get that bad evaluation, when the class just won’t listen, and the lesson falls apart. These are the things I want us to remember when we hear about more cutbacks in education and that raises are being pushed back another year. These are the things I want us to remember when an angry parent questions our intelligence or our ability to teach.
While none of this is fair nor is it easy, at the end of the day, what we do every day for our students means so much more than we could ever imagine.
This year I hope that all of us will learn to lean on one another during the difficult times. That we will work together more to encourage one another even if it’s just by making each other laugh to take our minds off our problems. Share that great lesson that worked for you. Explain that strategy that helped turn on the light bulb for your students. Or just be there to listen when a colleague needs to vent.
But whatever you do, don’t give up.
I dare you during the hard times to consider things from a different perspective. How many lives will you impact over a lifetime of teaching? Aren’t those “bad days” worth knowing that you will have so many more good days, days that will influence and change the lives of so many children?
If you’re anything like me, you know that this is the profession for you. Being the introvert that I am, the last thing that I enjoy doing is being in front of a crowd, with all of the attention on me. But somehow I am drawn to it in the classroom with my students. I am a different person, and I get excited planning lessons and then watching my students learn something new from me. Some people just say it’s their calling. But I know that it’s nothing but God who put this desire in my heart, the desire to have a significant impact in these children’s lives, and because of this, I am going to continue to give it my all. Even when I want to give up. Even when I am tired. Even when my students don’t seem to care.
I pray that you feel the same way because ,my dear teachers, your work is not in vain.
But on those days when it feels as if it is, I recommend that you do I what I do.
Have a glass of wine…
or a bottle (whichever works for you).
Get some rest,
and try it again the next day.
The future is depending on you.
Have a great school year!