My wife and I bravely dropped our son off at a wonderful independent boarding school in Maine a week ago today. While our hearts hurt a bit as we said goodbye and it’s been challenging to walk by his room without tearing up, we are filled with hope and faith. We have faith that he will put forth his best effort in all that he does at his new school. We hope he learns a lot and has an enjoyable and fruitful experience while away from us. Towards the end of the summer, our son even started setting goals for himself. He wants to do well both academically and athletically. He was excited for the possibilities. My wife and I keep telling ourselves that he misses us, and we’re sure he does, but we hope, more than anything, that he is growing and maturing as he continues to find himself and figure out how the world works. Yes, we’re scared about all of the “what ifs,” but we can’t live in the maybes or the mights; we believe in our son and have faith that everything will work out just as it should.
As I prepare for the start of another academic year back at my school, I too am filled with excitement and a bit of trepidation. While I want everything to go just so, I know that life has a way of throwing curve balls and making things go not according to my plan. And you know what, I’m beginning to come to terms with that. It’s okay if a poster falls off the wall the night before classes begin. It’s okay if I mess up in explaining the sixth grade way to my new students. Life is about experiences and learning and growing from my mistakes. I can’t possibly further develop as a teacher if I don’t mess up. It’s part of the process. I’m feeling good about everything as I realize that I don’t need to control every little detail. Instead, I’m learning to roll with the punches and let things go. The new chairs I ordered for my classroom haven’t arrived yet. I could be freaking out about that right now. Instead, I found other chairs to use in the meantime. It’s okay, really.
As serenity fills my heart and soul while excitement fills my tapping feet and hands, I’ ve begun to think about goals for the start of this new school year. What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to try to instill within my students?
- I want to help my students grow together as a family of learners and peers. I want my students to start to see the relevance and value in all of the team building activities my co-teacher and I have planned for the start of the year. I don’t expect perfection, but I would like to see effort and progress. My hope is that I will explain, model, and introduce the activities in such a way that the students will buy into the purpose of the activities and get the most from them. I want to choose my words carefully and bring all of the team building exercises back to my school’s Core Values. In the past several years, I’ve created activities that I thought would help build community within the class, but found that none of them really worked or stuck with the students. The community ended up falling apart quickly after the start of the school year. I’m going to put more effort and energy into helping to create stronger bonds between the students this year. I’ve already arranged for my school’s counselor to work with the students on a weekly basis during the first term. She’s going to run the boys through a team building and problem solving curriculum that will help them develop the teamwork skills needed to grow as a family and community. I’m feeling great about what I have in place right now and hope the boys are able to reap the benefits in the coming weeks.
- I want my students to better enjoy the math skills covered this year. I felt as though the math portion of my STEM curriculum from last year was lacking. The students seemed to struggle with the concepts covered and their enjoyment of the subject seemed to decrease quite a bit over the course of the year. I don’t want that to happen again. I put much effort into revamping the math portion of my STEM curriculum for this coming year. I will be using mini-lessons and small group instruction right from the start of the year. I will utilize the same textbook throughout the year as a guide. I will also implement engaging activities and cross-curricular projects that will help the students better see the relevance of the math skills and concepts covered. I hope my students learn to enjoy math more throughout this new academic year.
- I want my new co-teacher to feel supported and challenged. I want her to feel like my co-teacher and not my assistant. I want her to take the reigns whenever possible. I want the students to see her as an equal to me. We are a team and I want her to feel like that. I feel as though I’ve been supporting her since she was hired in May, but I hope she feels the same way. I’ve told her to let me know if she wants to start the class or introduce a lesson. As she is a new teacher, I also want her to feel comfortable before jumping in head first. I felt like a minnow in a pool filled with piranhas during my first year as a teacher. I don’t want her to feel like that, but I also don’t want to over-coddle her and make her feel as though she doesn’t have a voice in the classroom. While she’s nervous about teaching, I’ve encouraged her to take the lead in teaching one of the courses starting on the first day of classes next week. She seemed a bit hesitant, but I supported her and helped her create the agenda slide from the wonderful lesson plan she created. My goal was and is to support and help her but also challenge and push her to grow and develop as an educator. I have faith and believe in her skills and talent. She’s going to have an awesome year.
So that’s that. Three goals as the academic year commences next Monday. I’m hopeful that all of the work I completed this summer and during the past few weeks will pay off. My growth mindset is sending me good vibes and my crystal ball is foreseeing greatness all year for the sixth grade, and my son. Go Jeffrey! Go sixth grade!