For the last 16 years of my life I have spent this time at the end of the summer preparing for the upcoming school year. I pack my lunch, get my backpack ready and hang up my outfit the night before. I arrange and rearrange my school supplies and ceremoniously open packages of fresh pens, pencils and markers. For nearly my entire life I have eagerly awaited the start of school. However, this year will be different. For the first time I will be entering the classroom not as the student, but as the teacher. The start of school can be an exciting and stressful time. Here is my advice, though admittedly from a novice, for children, families and teachers as this school year begins:
First, be curious and adventurous—both in the classroom and in life. Parents, support the inquisitive spirit of your children and cherish their creativity. Teachers, put off grading those papers for one more night and go to that concert you don’t think you have time for. Take time for yourself because when you’re a more interesting person you’re a more interesting teacher.
Second, be actively present—not just in body but in attitude and spirit. Parents, spend time at your child’s school, if possible, and establish a family attitude in which education is paramount. I know that my family’s deep investment and involvement in my education undoubtedly shaped me into the teacher I am today. Teachers, take time to truly reflect on your beliefs about children. I would suggest reading the works of Loris Malaguzzi, as well as “To Teach” by William Ayers. These writers and thinkers will ignite your passion and remind you that your impact on the life of a child is ever-reaching.
Finally, be respectful and appreciative. Parents, be thankful for the great schools we have here in Central Indiana as well as the talented teachers inside them. You truly cannot imagine their investment (of time, money, and emotion) and how seldom they are applauded for it. Teachers, encourage and support parental involvement in your classroom, and assure them that your door is always open. Remember that we all have the child’s best interests in mind and if we communicate and work together, success is certainly within reach.