New School Year, New Beginning

by Christen Howe, NHCS 2018-19 Teacher of the Year

Welcome back to a new school year!

One thing I love about the beginning of the school year is that everyone, including educators, is given a fresh start, a new opportunity to begin again and do better. To me this new beginning always inspires hope and possibility.

As you begin to set goals and make plans for the new year, I encourage you to remember the reason why we are here.

No matter what subject or grade you teach, what department in which you work, we are all here for kids. Our whole profession exists to serve children.

In order to create a strong foundation in the coming year, I invite you to join me in the three following endeavors:

One: Let’s build real relationships that matter with every student.

Learning is a deeply personal experience. As James Comer states, “No significant learning can occur without a relationship.”

So let’s make time to know our students as people, both in and out of the classroom. Let’s learn about their interests, strengths, hopes, and fears.

Let’s build relationships based on trust and respect. Let’s treat our students the way we want to be treated.

Let’s believe in each and every student and let them know that they matter. Every day.

Our little efforts and actions can make a big difference.  This year, let’s

  • Greet students at the door, say hello and goodbye every day.

  • Let’s seek student feedback – find out what’s going well and what we can do better.

  • Let’s take an afternoon to attend a student’s extra-curricular activity.

  • And let’s keep trying, even when it’s difficult.

Building a strong relationship with each and every child is not always easy, but it is so important. And this is the beauty and responsibility of what we do.

We work in a profession where we have the chance every day to change someone’s life with our words, our actions, and our belief in their ability.

We must not underestimate the power of our words and the potential impact of our efforts.  As teachers we must seek to connect with and find the strengths in every student, every day.

Two: Let’s build a life-long love of learning.

Learning is at the core of what we do every day in schools and it is important that we help our students understand that it is more than a score on a test or a grade at year’s end.

What if we create experiences that help our students see that learning matters? And not because they need to learn information for a test, but because it allows them access to ideas, opportunities, and the world around them.

Children are born full of wonder and a desire to learn and, as educator/innovator George Couros says, “If our students leave school less curious when they started, we have failed them.”

So let’s teach to inspire, ignite curiosity, and create wonder.

Let’s provide learning opportunities that invite students to see what’s possible and then empower them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make it happen.

Three: Let’s believe in ourselves and know, without a doubt, that what we do matters.

Every day is an opportunity to do something great for kids. A strong foundation for children and learning begins with us.

There are – and will continue to be – challenges in education, but let’s remember why we are here.  We are here for children and we make a difference. Every day.

Never doubt your sphere of influence or the capacity you have to affect change. We can’t allow the things that are out of our control interfere with all the things we can control.

As teachers we are at the heart of education; we have the collective capacity to be the change our students need.

So let’s work together to make it happen. Our kids deserve it.

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