As much as I enjoy having the summer off with Liam, we both thrive on routine and keeping busy. After two months of unplanned bliss, we were both ready to return to school. I go back a week earlier so I am already back into the swing of things when Liam’s first day finally arrives.
Last year was terrifying for Liam. After six years at his daycare center, he was starting first grade at a new school. He had all summer to worry about this transition. By the time September rolled around, just mentioning school made tears swell in his eyes. After the first day, he was fine. That’s the thing about our fears; the unknown is the worst part. This year, he started to work himself up about the first day as he and my husband walked through the school’s parking lot. Liam had an epiphany: “I know this building. My friends are here, and I know my teacher. I’ve got this!” With that, he wiped his tears and jogged to the playground. I’m so proud that he was able to get ahead of his brain and prevent fears from taking over his thought process.
As much as I love summer with Liam, I also love teaching. I love the beginning of the school year. Everyone is hopeful and full of promise. I’ve had two months to reflect upon what went well and what I need to change. I am blessed to be in a building that promotes autonomy, community, and perseverance. This is our third year using the Summit Public Schools personalized learning platform; it forever changed my views of teaching and learning. I love watching my students grow and discover their own personal learning styles. In addition to teaching Habits of Success, I am able to incorporate mindfulness strategies into my lessons. I’ve watched students’ confidence grown. They’re proud of their achievements and celebrate their successes.
My favorite A-ha moment of the past few years stems from Carol Dweck’s work on the growth mindset. Her inspirational TED Talk teaches the “Power of Yet,” this idea that it is okay to struggle. It is important to change our thinking from “I can’t do this” to “I haven’t done this yet.” This is life-changing! It affects every aspect of my life! I am so happy that it is rubbing off on my students and my son. Liam sometimes spends an entire session at his “ninja skills class” trying to perfect a single move. There is nothing better than when he jumps into my arms after completing a skill that had eluded him for weeks. My students play around with note taking strategies until they find one that works for them. They set goals for themselves and develop plans to stay on track and reach them. I love this possibly of trial, error, and reflection. I love this energy! I’m going to try my hardest to keep this feeling of new beginnings and hope last throughout the year!
I am also going to try to practice what I preach. I’m going to push myself to be better and nourish my body and mind. I set personal and professional goals for the year and developed plans to reach them. Through this journey, I need to remember that things are not always going to be easy and have a reflective growth mindset to respond to setbacks and plan next steps. New school years provide such hope and promise!