Beginnings are one of the things I love about teaching. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? A chance to do over–or do better.
Everyone else might only get one New Year’s Day, but teachers and kids have two. And to tell the truth January really plays second fiddle to the start of a school year. New Years resolutions so often seem reserved for body image goals, but at the start of school we reinvent ourselves. We imagine how our classrooms could look. We envision the kind of teachers we could be. We commit to trying new things, generally with a few specifics in mind. Anything feels possible in the moments before the beginning.
After days alone in the classroom, colleagues arrive and our visions shift and expand as they come in contact with one another. Convocation is like the soft start to the year. We’ve begun, but only technically since the primary purpose for our existence has not yet arrived. It’s a time to get situated and sorted…almost. There’s never enough time in this soft start to get fully settled.
Because now the buses roll in and the energy goes through the roof. Those first day smiles and hugs as last year’s friends greet you for the first time are the grand opening. Greeting uncertain four and five year olds for whom this is the first school beginning reminds us of completely new starts.
In October our narrative writing may have blossomed. Then blooms may have begun to wilt. No worries. We’ll have a fresh start in the new unit any day now. Towards November we may feel like our initial burst of energy is running low. But the new trimester is just around the corner. Then there’s the actual New Year. And on and on.
You see, what I love about teaching are the new beginnings and they’re everywhere. Some are marked on the calendar. Others are marked in our hearts. A child who has struggled to engage with reading finally finishes an entire book! After reading a new professional book we decide to take on a new challenge or to apply a new strategy. After a Twitter chat or a conference we find ourselves buzzing with energy from the amazing educators we met. So we choose to try something new.
I remember the advice Anne Shirley’s teacher gave her: Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it…yet.
Well, if tomorrow is a clean slate, then why couldn’t I try something new? Why couldn’t I grow beyond where I began today? There’s no need to wait all the way to next September. And if I make a mistake, then the next tomorrow will be fresh and new again.
I can make my new beginnings any time at all. We feed beginnings on ideas and our own energy. They start as a spark, but we can fan them into something more. Were you looking for a cheerful campfire? Or are you ready to set the world ablaze?
That’s the thing with beginnings…you decide.