It’s almost here. The first day of school. In a few days our kindergarteners will step into the building for their very first day of school ever. And our seniors will step into the building for their very last first day of school ever. There is something truly magical about this time of year. It is a gift!
In fact, everything about this profession is a gift. I am in awe of it.
We kicked off the new year with a welcome back celebration last week. Our superintendent (@jsutfin) and Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) spent the day inspiring us to celebrate our successes and to be better than we are now. We are entrusted with an awesome responsibility. And we were encouraged to focus on the awe.
I had no trouble doing that last week.
Everywhere I look in our schools, I find reasons to be in awe.
I am in awe of the teachers who build knowledge, instill curiosity, and create thinkers. They meet each student where they are, find ways to engage them, and motivate them to be better than they ever knew they could be. They meet needs as simple as tying shoes and as complex as making a child feel accepted. I am in awe of the teachers who spend their evenings at soccer games for students who invited them, their weekends at Dance Team car washes, and their early mornings on the field at Marching Band practice. They make home visits, call moms and dads to share successes, and pick just the right moment to tell a child how proud they are.
I am in awe of the administrators who build relationships with students, even when it is not easy, advocate for the resources their teachers need, and manage to lead in the midst of extreme challenges. They buy toasters and pop-tarts for students who are hungry, show up at graduation years after struggling with a child through middle school, and sit with families in the hospital during some of their darkest days. I am in awe of their deep dedication and willingness to do whatever it takes.
I am in awe of the willingness of educators to put their hearts out there over and over, every time, for every child. This is not always easy. Our students sometimes make poor choices, in some cases ones that have devastating consequences. But in every case there is someone, a teacher, a principal, who cares about them and supports them through all of it.
I have watched teachers unpack boxes, refill school supplies, hang bulletin boards, fire up iPads, and launch new apps. I have watched administrators greet families at Orientation and facilitate engaging and meaningful professional development. I have watched these staff members work and learn and grow in the last week. And I was in awe of them.
And I am certain too that they heard the message to inspire awe in their students.
How do we create a sense of wonder in our students?
How do we expose our students to things that will amaze them?
How do we challenge our students to take risks, to step outside of their comfort zones, and to push themselves beyond their fears in order to become the best versions of themselves?
Awe is complex. It is an abundance of amazement that can almost overwhelm you. Embrace every moment of the first days of school. Be in awe! It’s so worth it.