It's the time of year where Back-to-School sales are in full swing, students are about to get schedules, and a lot of teachers are talking about how short the summer was.
I'm one of them. My summer has been filled with grad school, house painting, chopping down trees, StuCo camp, more grad school, presenting at a state convention, and a complete classroom/instructional design makeover.
I do not share this to brag- or complain- just to frame what I am about to say.
I have never been more excited to start the year.
Honestly, I do wish I had a few more days to sleep in, or had been able to take a relaxing mountain vacation, but I'm not going to complain. I am choosing excitement and hope because my students deserve it, and I will not survive the year without it.
Earlier this summer, a Twitter chat I am on (#CSISDchat) asked what song I would play to get me ready for that first week, and I responded that I would choose Switchfoot's new song " Hope is the Anthem." It is all about overcoming, seeing the positive, and choosing hope. This lyric really captures that message:
"Hope's a seed you have to sowWhen you let it go it comes to life
So you stretch your arrows on the bow
And you pull them back and watch them fly"
I believe teachers have quivers full of hope. Each encouraging word we share, each "I believe in you," and every time we nudge a student to not give up is our arrows taking flight.
But what if our quiver is empty? I NEVER advocate "fake it till you make it," so how can we fill our quiver with a week before students? Here are a few suggestions that have me excited for the new year.
1. Take on a new challenge. For me, it's my classroom redesign. I'm not drastically changing my content, just updating. But I am changing methods and instructional design, looking for new ways to reach and engage students. If you like to test yourself, taking on a challenge is a great invigorating technique.
2. Set goals. Like the first suggestion, some tangible thing to shoot for might be an inspiring goal. A skill you want to improve, a performance outcome to reach, or maybe some recognition you want to go for are just a few examples. With T-TESS utilizing goal setting as a key component, this might be a good jump start on the new evaluation method.
3. Read/Listen to an inspiring speaker/podcast. Even if you've read or seen it before, a great book or article that challenges your thinking can be so inspiring. Good words have a great impact. And maybe even branch out to inspiring music. That new Switchfoot album has been useful for getting me pumped up.
4. Read old letters form students/parents. I have kept senior letters and parent notes that I've gotten over the years. When I have had a bad day, I pull them out to restore hope. Why not read some at the start of the year to remind you of where you hope to be in your relationships with students at the end of the year?
5. Get organized. One of the biggest fears I hear from teachers at the start of the year is that they are not organized. Take some time to think through the calendar, map out some activities and re-arrange that supply closet. I know it makes me feel better to accomplish something, even if it's a small thing.
Hope to me is a choice, and as we start this year, I choose hope. I want my students to have hope and expectations of success, and I believe that I have the seeds of hope that need to be sown in their lives. So I will spend the last week filling my quiver, and getting ready to launch hope to my students.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, Communication Applications and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team and co-sponsor Student Council. I am an aspiring administrator.