It's that magical time of year again, when all things seem possible. Teachers return to classrooms to attend trainings, set up their learning spaces, and make plans to guide their students. The empty classrooms are gleaming, but too quiet. These rooms hold the promise of all the things to come - discovery, progress, connections, excitement.
Pretty soon, other things will enter these spaces, too. Paperwork, mandatory assessments, unexpected schedule adjustments, conflicts. If we aren't careful, these things can take up so much room in our school lives that they crowd out the things that matter most.
One of the things I like to do each year is to choose a personal theme. (Here is a good article by Elena Aguilar about teaching mottos; hers was "You Belong.") This theme has nothing to do with decor and everything to do with where I put my focus and energy. It centers my purpose and clarifies my "why."
This year, my theme is "Appreciate Amazing." I will need to be present in each moment, and less preoccupied with my to-do lists. I will be on the lookout for laughter and ways to build connections, for high-quality processes and products and mistakes that shine a light on our next steps, for small triumphs and seized opportunities. I will find beauty in problems that lead to growth, if we let them. I will commit to the well-being of my colleagues, my students, and their families, and see all the ways they shine. I will celebrate the meaningful work of this important profession, and the incredible potential of the young people in my learning community.
Amazing is abundant in people, when we look for it, and in the world itself. Number patterns, trees, music, the feel of wind and working muscles when you run, water, sunshine, buildings, words.
I hope teachers, students, parents, and education stakeholders in cities large and small are looking forward to an excellent 2018 school year. I am ready for all the Amazing it has to offer!!
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.