Grit and perseverance - picture

This feels good.  Sitting at the computer, looking out at the surprisingly still green grass and the blooming flowers in my backyard.  Typing a new blog for a new year.  This feels good!

Don’t get me wrong, summer has been amazing.  Taking time to rest and sharpen the saw is important.  I have traveled and read and napped.  I have relaxed, and I have reflected.  I feel energized.  In fact, my favorite thing about our profession is the school year cycle.  Each year we get the chance to plan, to implement, to reflect, and to redesign. We get to start anew, and I for one am grateful for that chance.

This past week we welcomed our new teachers, and tomorrow we will welcome back our returning teachers.  I know some of you still have summer left, but we are all closing in on those first days for staff and students.  The excitement is palpable.  What is your hope for those teachers this year?  What is your hope for students?

For me this time of year is about energy.  It is about sharing a vision and generating the energy to make that vision come to life.  We get the unique opportunity to start over each year.  It is a gift not to be taken lightly.  Use this time well.

In our District, we have been focusing on college and career readiness skills.  Are we doing all we can to be sure our students have not just the content but the life skills necessary to be successful in this century?  Our superintendent asked our new teachers to not just teach but to model grit and perseverance for their students.  Easier said than done.

My sister is an amazing mother.  Already so much better at things than I was when I had a 3-year-old.  I am learning from her all the time.  This summer I learned something about creating this grit and perseverance…and about modeling it.

Like I said, her son is three.  And he is curious.  She recently posted the following video on Facebook.  Of course (because he is adorable), she got plenty of comments on how cute and clever he is.  My first thoughts though were different.  I thought, ‘He is going to break those blinds.’  I am sure that if that were my child, and I was the one holding the camera, I’d have told him to stop because he might damage the blinds.  I am sure that I would have gone over, taken the cords from him, and just showed him.  And while he might have learned how to open the blinds (the content), he would not have learned to stick with something until you figure it out (the life skill).  My sister is an excellent teacher.

My hope for this new school year is that our new teachers, and our returning teachers as well, are willing to risk damaging the blinds.  A neat and tidy and quiet classroom might look great from the outside, but it is usually the messier, louder work that results in the greatest learning.

Good luck to you all as you kick off your new school year.  Enjoy the gift of a new start.

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