New Beginnings

Summer has come to a close as a new school year begins. As much as I dread the end of summer and all the hustle and bustle of a new school year, there is also a bit of excitement and anticipation about all that lies ahead. We experience new students/teachers, clean classrooms, new materials and supplies and a fresh start, a new beginning.
August is a busy time of year for me professionally as I am hired by various districts to provide professional development for their staff as they head “back to school”. In one week alone, I did two keynotes and five breakout sessions for over 500 educators. It can be physically draining but emotionally invigorating. There is a buzz in the air as school staff come back from a time of reprieve (and hopefully a couple months with an intentional focus on self-care and restoration). Administrators are ready to instill their vision and plans to positively impact the next generation academically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Teachers take that vision and run with it in their own classroom settings with their unique style and flair. I love how palatable the feeling of hope is in those moments.
Beginning a new school year, or anything new for that matter, can be both thrilling with the expectation of good things to come, while also a bit unnerving, due to the uncertainty of what awaits. If you are anything like me, you want, albeit NEED, a plan. I like to know what my next steps are, so I can be prepared for whatever happens. But sometimes I am so consumed with preparation and planning that I become uptight and stressed. I neglect to take in and enjoy or savor the promise of what is unfolding before me, noticing and appreciating what’s along the path on that new leg of the journey. It can be challenging with all the flurry and demands of a new school year to bypass the opportunities that could be right there in front of you waiting to be taken. In addition to focusing on the incoming students and all they will accomplish in the coming year, this can (and should be) a time to focus on you. Is there a new colleague next door that could use a kind word of encouragement as they embark on a new challenge? Recall from a previous blog, that the energy you extend comes back to you. Kindness given is kindness received. Maybe you could gain a helpful tip from them? Or learn something useful during a professional development day that you can incorporate in the new year. Are there ways you can set up your classroom to ensure a calm, positive, supportive environment for not only your students but yourself? This is a good time to put self-care reminders around the room. Use a coping card or a trinket or both to help you remember your well-being is just as important as the students. Do you have a plan for how you can embed self-care into your daily routine? Furthermore, this can also be a time of reflection, self-assessment and goal setting, like we do with new calendar year. Consider where you have been professionally and personally, how are you doing and where do you want to go? Is there anything you can do better this year? We are good at setting goals for our students but how about setting one for yourself?
Having a fresh start brings promise of a better tomorrow. Students appreciate starting with a clean slate. That holds true for me too and I assume that is the case for you as well. Getting to write our next chapter, determining what direction we will go and how to forge ahead can be exciting (and a little overwhelming). Perhaps this year as classes begin, we can re-commit to going S.L.O.W. Stick to our values, staying true to ourselves. Love ourselves first then others around us. Only apologize once, as needed. Take responsibility and then move on. And finally, wait and watch. Make your plans, do what you can but then release the stress and need to control things and let the universe works its magic on your behalf. I’ve seen it happen again and again; I stress out about something, I desperately try to control it, then eventually when I am forced to resign my efforts under the weight of it all, it naturally works out, usually for the better and more easily than had I done it myself. Let’s commit to go S.L.O.W., intentionally holding on to the hope of good things to come, believing things work out exactly as they should and for our best benefit. Have a great school year!