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Fourth Chances

While this new school year has felt overwhelming and exhausting in many ways, I am trying to focus on the ways in which I can capitalize on the fresh start I’ve been given. It’s one of the best features of teaching. There aren’t many jobs out there where you’re essentially allowed to press reset and try a myriad of different approaches to your work.

Sometimes it can be something as simple as a new procedure for sharpening pencils or checking homework. You’d be surprised how much peace of mind rests on these minutiae. But hopefully, when September comes around, you can find something really special to try out for the first time to change the landscape of the school year. In a school community where standardized testing can weigh heavier and heavier over the course of the year, this is especially important.

One way I’ve tried to reinvigorate my practice and the outlook for my school year is by planning for numerous guest speakers and field trips. The guest speaker piece will be trickier to pull off (get in touch if you have knowledge or talents to share!), but I’m planning to hold myself accountable for field trips this year in an attempt to erase the “experiential gap” that’s often ignored in classrooms like my own.

In smaller ways I’m also trying to establish a positive tone for the school year. The most effective change I’ve made so far is by making a positive phone call home every day. Last year I got a bit lazy because I interacted with a lot of parents daily when they picked up their children. But those encounters were often rushed, and not always positive. By forcing myself to reach out for positive reasons I’m reinforcing positive behavior in the classroom and changing the expectation of home-school communication. After an especially tiring day like yesterday it was refreshing to make a parent’s day with the good news. Changes like these phone calls and the field trips I am planning make me thankful for a new school year and another chance to get things right as a teacher.

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