Amidst the teacher dreams and setting up your classroom (and for some of you, already teaching!), my guess your school or district has emailed you the Back to School Letter.
Receiving this letter used to hint at a hard stop for the summer; a signal indicating it’s time to start laminating, organizing, and planning for the first week of school. Put down those beach reads, and read through the updates for the curriculum, new strategies you’d like to try, and ideas for engagement.
This year’s letter likely contains much of the items mentioned in the Back to School Letters of years past, which remain key to what makes a faculty and staff work well as a team. But this year, like last year, comes with its unique set of rules, precautions, and worries. There’s also a sense of hope that this year will be different. Many students are starting school in person after a year and a half away. My son is starting middle school after distance learning his last year and a half in elementary school. Educators are once again re-calibrating to meet the challenges and joys that come with each new school year. Here’s a little pep talk from your friends at Learners Edge.
Concentrate on the “knowns.”
There’s plenty of unknowns at the beginning of this school year and all school years: vaccination levels, student engagement, transitions to or from distance learning. Do your best to authentically approach this year by focusing on what you know, rather than spinning in the many unknowns. Shapeshifting and spontaneous redirection are your superpowers, so use them to your advantage. As difficult as it may be, when you accept situations you can’t control, you free up your energy to work with the situations you can control. Give yourself permission to focus on the “knowns.”
Take care of yourself.
This piece of the pep talk is likely familiar because anyone who knows educators knows the importance of balance and wellness. Honor what you need to do to stay healthy in all aspects of your life, start by taking a walk around the school, a 3-minute mindfulness breathing exercise, or taking a break from a break from a task you’ve been wrangling with for hours. Prioritize, balance, and breathe, and protect those actions in your life. Model this self-care for your students to teach them good habits. You can’t be effective if you aren’t well- your health matters!
You’ve got this.
You’re teaching because you know how important it is to build communities of learners, solvers of problems, and curiously minded people. You’ve learned and struggled and learned some more to be present, caring, and open for your students, and your students will feel your love, support, encouragement, and expectations. Whether you truly believe it or not, you have an innate ability to inspire, challenge, and engage your students with your presence.
Your students need you, your colleagues need you, and the world needs you! Put that superhero cape back on, stand up straight, breathe, and get ready to have an amazing year!