Just like that summer is over, and school starts tomorrow. I have a love/hate relationship with the start of school. There’s something refreshing about a do-over, but with the temps in the 90s the pool is still begging me to not put an end to our yearly affair. When I pulled up Pandora for some background music on my first pre-planning day, the country song “You Look Like I Need a Drink Right Now” came on. Ironic? I think not. After four days of planning, though, I am ready for the start of another year and thought I would once again offer some unsolicited advice for a good year.
Plan for the future but enjoy the moment
Students need to have goals that they are working toward whether it be admission into a dream college or passing math (hypothetically of course) but should not be so focused on the goal that they (or their parents) miss the moment.
Remain positive while living in reality
I am committed to being a positive teacher this year focusing on the good aspects of a typically negative profession. This doesn’t mean I have to bury my head in the sand and pretend that problems don’t exist, but it does mean that I have a choice about how I will respond to the less-than-ideal parts of my job. “But you don’t know my child’s teacher” you may say to which I would answer “but you don’t know some of my students.” Just keeping it real.
Focus on learning not grades
There’s a movement among some educators to throw out grades. I love this idea because grades, GPAs, and college admission requirements have gotten completely out of control and the focus is no longer on learning. I understand the desire for parents to push for good grades but please help your student by keeping the bulk of conversations about school focused on learned content, accomplishments in learning, and solving learning problems. Parents, teachers, and students must recapture the love of discovery and learning.
Treat technology as a useful tool not the answer to everything
I love technology and consider myself to be tech-savvy always experimenting with the new app or platform. But sometimes, we need to put the phone, tablet, or computer down and give our brains a rest from the screen. Take technology breaks and read a book (the thing with a hard cover holding pages with words written on them) or talk (gasp). We have a regular practice of family game nights even though I don’t advise your family to play with the same level of intensity or sarcasm as my family.
Failure is as important as success
Keep in mind this year that students need to learn as much from failing as they do from achieving. Too many parents and educators have not seized the opportunity to coach students through unsuccessful attempts and ventures thus missing a chance to teach students to reflect, readjust, and redirect. Thank goodness Michael Jordan learned from his failure of being cut from his high school basketball team. What would we do without Space Jam?
EQ not just IQ
Whether parenting or teaching the next generation, those of us working with the next generation need to teach them soft skills such as speaking up, looking someone in the eye when speaking, and engaging others in conversation. At orientation today a student just looked at me when I held out my hand to shake his and introduce myself. I prompted him to shake my hand, asked him to shake it again more firmly, and say his name loud enough for me to hear him. (Yes, I’m that kind of teacher). His mother thanked me saying the art of these skills are lost on kids today. Let’s do our part to bring them back!
Here’s to a great school year!! Let’s get this party started!