Promise of a new year
The start of the school year is creeping up on the calendar. As a teacher mama, the flip of the calendar to August always brings forward a plethora of mixed feelings.
August is truly a month to enjoy summer in Minnesota, so I try to spend most of the month on or near a lake. Indeed, I savor the last month of my summer break.
But I also feel a calling back to my profession as an educator. My reality is that, during the month of August, I spend portions of each day, in either my thoughts or actions, preparing for the school year ahead.
September will mark the beginning of my 17th year of teaching, and I continue to approach each new beginning with anticipation and hope.
One of the very first things I like to do when I approach the start of a new school year is to reflect upon my professional mission statement:
In partnership with home and community, I will work to educate my students in an environment of safety, respect and trust in an effort to inspire a love of learning and mastery of foundational kindergarten skills by planning and implementing purposeful, intentional and developmentally appropriate learning experiences while working to meet the needs of each individual learner.
I wrote this statement to guide my instructional practices, and to help me to stay grounded in my beliefs and values about best practices in the education of young children. At the beginning of the school year, I share this with all of the parents of my students, so that they can both be partners and also hold me accountable.
I also display it in a prominent area on the wall near my desk as a visual daily reminder.
One of my biggest goals and challenges as an educator is to put these ideals into action each day.
Here’s some insight from my perspective, as just one of the many educators getting ready to welcome new students into classrooms this month:
Safety, respect and trust
I will work to create a safe and comfortable classroom for my learners by intentionally organizing our classroom environment. I will be a guide as my students explore and learn about their classroom and school, teaching routines and modeling appropriate use of supplies, materials and facilities.
I will develop rules and logical consequences with my students in an effort to maintain a safe and respectful learning environment and also to hold children accountable for their actions.
I will work to create a joyful learning environment by facilitating classroom community-building activities to create an authentic sense of belonging, significance and fun.
Inspiring a love of learning
I will work to create and facilitate intentional, hands-on, developmentally appropriate learning experiences and activities for my kindergarten students.
I will take keen observations of the learning of my students and will use these formative assessments to guide my instruction.
I will make use of extra support to create smaller learning groups (support staff, student teachers and parent/community volunteers) so that I can teach to small groups in an effort to reach my students more at an individual level, helping them grow and learn at their different stages of readiness.
I will work to make learning active, fun and appropriately challenging, sharing my own interests and experiences while tapping into the interests, experiences and strengths of my students.
We will both learn and play.
I am ready for this challenge. Are you?
Always remember, you are your child’s most important teacher, and with a positive home-to-school partnership, we can make the biggest difference.
Cheers to the start of a new school year!
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four school-age children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com