Sunday, August 11, 2013
With just a few weeks left of summer I am beginning to get that same old feeling. For the past 8 years I have anxiously anticipated the first day of school. Unlike some teachers, though I think it is less than they would like to admit, I relish in the beginning of the year. Maybe it has to do with the fact that waiting tables is low on my list of enjoyable ways to spend my time, but more importantly, I think there is something magical about that first time in front of a new class. Learning unfamiliar faces, conquering the new challenge, and the thrill of watching new students start their process of growth.
Every summer I spend plenty of time rummaging through sale bins, flipping through Pinterest pages (that’s a newer one) and following one of my favorite Harry Wong sayings: beg, borrow, and steal! It is around this time of year that I start to get that feeling in my stomach, the one I have heard so many other teachers talk about. There is a twinge of nerves about starting over with new students. You wonder, what will they like, how will they respond, and what new challenges will present themselves as you begin this new journey.
A new school year gives us as teachers the chance to start over. Most teachers have the annoying habit of being either perfectionists or controlling. The most wonderful part of getting to start over, is that we get to make it better with each year. Some people will ask how a teacher can keep from getting bored teaching the same thing over and over, but the truth is that we never teach the same thing repetitively. With every new class there are new variations, new ways to increase our quality and new things we can do to increase the growth of our students. It is my firm belief that once you start teaching “the same things every year” that you have reached the beginning of the end as a teacher. You may have long ways to go before retirement, but you have certainly checked out. Great teachers never have two years that are so similar that they find themselves doing it exactly the same. If we do something the same way twice it can only be for one of three reasons. The first, we got it perfect. Since teaching provides so many variables that perfection is nearly an impossibility, it is almost never this option. If it were however, it does not change the fact that your students have changed and therefore require something different. The second option, we do not know any other way. If this is the case, you have a lot of work to do. Doing it the same way twice will not be successful and gaining new tricks for your bag will be vital. The last, is that you just do not care enough anymore to put in the effort required to update and revive your practice. If that is the case, then you are headed for a long, torturous road toward your final days as a teacher and you need to either get out or find a way to renew your passion.
For the majority of us however, a new year is to the teacher what Spring is for nature. It provides an opportunity at a fresh start, renewal, and the chance to work toward the perfection we seek for our students. So as you get ready for your new school year, remember to enjoy even the slightest feeling of nerves. It does not mean you will not be ready, or that there is a chance you will not succeed. Those tingles in your stomach are the signs that you will have a great year. Your students will benefit because those nerves mean you still care enough about them and your craft to worry even the slightest bit that despite your many previous successes, this time might not be the same. Of course, in the end, it will be the same old success for your students. The only difference will be the twists and turns the journey takes along the way.
Good luck to everyone in their preparation for the start of another new year!
Thanks for reading.