Don’t you love fresh sheets in your bed? There is just something different about crawling into your familiar bed with sheets that are clean and fit snugly.
That is the feeling I get at the beginning of every school year. Everything is fresh and ready to go. I catch up with my fellow teachers, I meet some new ones, and before we know it, the students have arrived. Their energy is contagious. The atmosphere is filled with hope and mixed with a little bit of fear.
Sometimes we see several new faces in the classroom. Those students get to start this year with you and they have no history that they are dragging with them. Most of your students, however, come in your room dragging an invisible anchor with them. They feel themselves dragging it everywhere they go and they are pretty sure that you see it, too.
Those students are dragging along their reputation. We all have a past and our student’s do, as well. In spite of the new haircut and the fresh clothes, you know that student that has always been at the top of the class. You know the student that has always been in trouble. You know the student that has always seemed to struggle to get their assignments turned in.
High school students enter several classrooms on their first day. It becomes a familiar dance as they try to figure out the teacher that stands before them in this period. What will she require me to do for a grade? Can we talk in class? Will we laugh? Will I learn? This topic isn’t of interest to me. Am I wasting my time? These thoughts and a hundred more go through the student's mind in every period of the day for the first day and sometimes for the first week.
The kindergarten student arrives full of excitement. The teacher before them is barely less than a god. If it weren’t for the need to say goodbye to their parents, this could be the moment that they have been waiting for their entire life.
What does the Kinder-teacher, the middle school gym teacher, and the high school history teacher have in common? Here is a list of common themes, regardless of the grade you teach.
You care about your students and want each of them to succeed. You know that they are not all the same. You know that every student is more than the reputation that precedes them? With the exception of their first year in school, all students come with a reputation.
Some of you have already completed more than a month of this academic year, but whether this is your first year, or you are starting the last year of a very long career, I want to thank you for accepting the challenge. May you have a fresh and bright start. May you approach every week as though this is the week that your students will find a love for learning and recognize the adventure of life that is before them.