Today is August first. Today is August first. Today is August first. Even though I say it over and over, it doesn’t seem real. And yes, I know all teachers go through this at the beginning of the year, and I know it’s ridiculously cliche, but HOW ON EARTH IS IT ALREADY AUGUST?
School starts two weeks from today. That’s also scary. This will be my sixth year of teaching, and at the beginning of every year, I’m always nervous. If you’re a teacher, despite your years of experience, do you get nervous too? I think part of being a good teacher is being a little nervous, experiencing those beginning of the year jitters. I have no idea what’s coming. I’ll have different students from last year. I’m not going to be cocky and act like I’m not nervous.
But I love how a school year evolves. August is always a month of getting-to-know . . . everything. I’m getting to know my students, they’re getting to know me, and we’re adjusting to being back in school after a summer away. When the middle of September hits, though, we fall into the normal school-year swing.
I wanted to blog before school started, and I thought, Is there a better day to blog about school than the first day of August? In some way, shape, or form, I always have my students write out their goals for the school year. 10th graders, especially, usually don’t sit down and think about their goals, so this is a good exercise for them. This made me think about my goals, especially as the school year begins.
Goal #1: I want to love my students.
For those who aren’t teachers, this may seem like a no-brainer, or it might seem weird, to love my students. But when you’re a teacher, you think of your students as your kids. And just like I have a child, I want to love my students as if they’re my children. This can sometimes be extremely difficult, though. When my “children” mumble under their breath about not wanting to complete an assignment, or when they argue with me, or you know, whatever high school students do that makes it hard to love them; all of this makes my flesh want to do anything but love them. It’s a tough love. It has to be. I’m not a doormat. Don’t think of it in that way. But it’s a love that will hold students accountable, allow them to learn, and prepare them for society.
I want to love all my students, the good, the bad, the ugly. I want to start fresh every day, even when that’s hard. I want to pray for patience every day, even though I know that means God will give me opportunities to be patient. Psalm 103:8 always comes to me when I think of how I want to love my students: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (ESV). This is so hard. In the moment when students are disrespectful, this is hard. And I will fail. But this is my goal for my loving my kiddos.
Goal #2: I want to love my co-workers.
Again, this may seem like a silly goal, but as teachers, we’re trained to work with students. Yes, we have teacher meetings and we collaborate, but the majority of our school hours are spent with students. Sometimes it’s hard to love all the people you work with. (If you work in the real world, and this isn’t true for you, please let me know.) However, this doesn’t mean I can’t love all the adults I work with. This includes teachers, administration, custodians, the food service staff, the parents, and any other person who walks through the doors of our building.
At the end of the day, teachers and all the other people in the building have one goal, or should have one goal: seeing our students succeed, by any means possible. I want to encourage my fellow teachers. I want us to be a support system for each other. I want to help foster a climate of unity within our staff.
I want to listen intently when someone speaks with me, even if it’s taking up my plan time. I want to speak well of everyone, even if others aren’t. I want to respect everyone who works in our building, regardless of their position. I want to love my co-workers, and love them well.
Goal #3: I want to love my family.
Duh, right? But for real. When school starts, my teacher brain tends to take over and make me forget about my mom and wife brains. At the end of the day, I’m a wife first, and then I’m a mom. Last year, going back to school was hard because we had a four-month old and any free time I got at school was spent pumping. (Yay for being done with that!) So at the end of the day, I was pooped.
But this year will be different. Sophie is a high-functioning fifteen-month-old who will want to play and spend time with us at the end of a long school day. And I want to spend that intentional time with her. I want to put away school work, put away my phone, and simply be with her.
I also want to spend that intentional time with Paul. I couldn’t be more thankful that Paul is a teacher. Swapping school stories is one my favorite things. We understand what the other does, and it’s great. But I also want to make sure we put school away and talk about us, our family, our lives. It’s so easy for me to let school take over, because I love teaching. But I love my family more.
Last year, I did a really good job of getting most of my work done at school, so unless it was grading papers, I really didn’t have to take a lot of work home. I hope to continue this habit. I want to try to leave school at school. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about school. Just that I want to put my family first. I want to love them well.
So there you go. My three goals. I know at times these goals might be hard to reach. But I feel like these goals can sustain me through the school year. Teachers everywhere, what are your goals as school starts this year? (Maybe yours are a little more classroom-focused. Ha!) Let me know!
Until next time,