3 words for the year: Hope, Opportunity, and Courage
After classroom prep, team meetings, department meetings, a district kickoff, and a training on our Bully Prevention Program, it was finally time for our staff meeting to kick off the year for our building. Our hour together ended with one of those opportunities for me to speak from the heart to our staff. I chose to focus my message to our teachers on three words: hope, opportunity, and courage.
Each day, kids come to school without hope. We see it in their eyes, and we hear it when we listen to what they have to say. For one reason or another, they don’t see that tomorrow can be better, and don’t realize that their future can be bright. Other students come to school brimming with hopes and dreams, we can see it in the margins of their notebooks where they draw or write about their vision for where they hope to be. Whether they are filled with aspirations or fail to see a better tomorrow, no one can have enough hope. Our charge is to give our students hope, every day. If not us, who?
Last spring, our school took a trip to see The Hunger Games. As part of the effort, I gave a student a ride to the movie theater. On the way, through making small talk, I discovered he had never been to a movie theater before. While I’m sure it was not malicious on the part of his parents, part of me felt sad that someone could make it to the 8th grade without this experience. We must think in terms of experiences we can provide. A trip to a museum, to the art institute, a concert, or a sporting event is an experience that cannot be replicated. Our charge is to think about opportunities we can provide to our students. If not us, who?
Education is a profession under attack from all angles. Negative reports from the media, policies from the state that take away from what our profession should be about, inadequate funding, and an uncertain future of what our business will look like in years to come are all frightening and can cause anxiety. Each day, students will walk through the door, they don’t care about policy or what is in the newspaper. What matters to them is if their locker will open, where they will sit at lunch, and whether or not their teachers will know who they are. We must put our worries aside each day while our students are with us. Our charge is to have the courage to focus on our students before we focus on ourselves. If not us, who?
Next week, I will start my tenth year as an educator, and I could not be more excited. Let’s make good things happen – if not us, who?