Yesterday was the first day of school. Before I sat down to write this blog entry, I tried to figure out how many first days of school I’ve experienced, but I’m having a bit of trouble with the math. I started kindergarten when I was five, then I was in school straight through college without any years off. So, that’s 16 years as a student; plus 10 more If I count all the years of graduate school. I also spent an intense year as a student teacher during college (I’m not sure I want to double-count, though). My entire professional life has centered around education and schools, but I haven’t been an actual teacher for all of that time. All of this is to say that I’ve woken up at least 40 times thinking, “Yay! It’s the first day of school.”
One of my former colleagues, who retired in June, always ended her morning message with the encouraging phrase, “Let’s get started.” For those of you who don’t have the chance to mark your professional life in clearly delineated units, I have to say that you’re missing something. I love the way each school year gives us the chance to re-tool, to try a new approach, to re-define or reinforce strategies, to reflect and refine. Here I am, full of optimism and grand plans, facing a real, as well as a metaphorical, blank slate (OK, really, it’s a whiteboard and a Google calendar). Last week, I watched empty classrooms being transformed into bright and welcoming spaces, met with colleagues to discuss our goals for the year, and prepared syllabi for a group of eager graduate students. Even for a veteran like me, it’s impossible to avoid the sense of promise and “newness” that surrounds the first day of school. I have new books, new notebooks, new pens, and new outfits (fashion is a definite consideration in my professional status…).
Joy is one of our school’s values. It is always evident, but yesterday it was front and center. Yesterday I had the delight of spending the day greeting exuberant children (who have grown taller) and eager colleagues (who seem to be the same height as they were in June). I heard about summer vacations, marriages, new babies, lost teeth, and ideas for curriculum projects. I watched children arriving at our wonderful school for the first time ever and helped a few to find their classrooms. I spoke with parents, faculty, and administrators. Then I walked through the hallways, listening to the sounds of September.
And so, for everyone– students, teachers, and otherwise, I wish you a year filled with all good things, but especially, joy. Let’s get started.