Today, our students arrive. Yesterday, all of the staff in our district convened for our Convocation Ceremonies as a way to getting the year off to a start on a united front (we are a regional district) and the superintendent this year invited fellow teachers and administrators to be the speakers. Hearing those voices was a great way to begin the year, I thought, so kudos to our superintendent for passing the buck to the staff to motivate, inspire and lead us into the new school year.
Here are a few highlights:
- My own building principal talked about coming into education as an idealist (and jokingly admitted how that idealism sometimes runs smack into reality when trying to bring ideas to fruition). He noted that no other professional addresses the needs so such a diverse population, and no other profession has a more meaningful goal in our society. Every day is a challenge. Yes. But that challenge is what we relish. “I pity the cubicle dwellers,” he said, to laughter.
- A mom, who teaches kindergarten, and her daughter, who teaches third grade, took the podium collaboratively and in a very down-to-earth way, they talked about becoming inspired to be a teacher. The daughter: “I thought she (the mom) was the best teacher ever and I wanted to be just like her.” There were more than a few “awwws” in the audience. The two also did a funny bit about teaching styles today (ie, checking out lesson plans online) versus slightly more older teaching styles (ie, pulling out the old mimeograph copies).
- Another third grade teacher, who had a career in the environmental sciences, told his story of how he went from that career into teaching, mostly because “it’s fun.” But that’s not all, he admitted. “Doing meaningful work has always mattered to me. One thing that charges me up … is knowing what happens in my classroom matters. I know this is a cliche, but what you and I do is important.“
- A high school math teacher took the stage to admit she is a full-fledged “math geek” who was a student in our district and came back as a teacher. She noted the many ways that colleagues helped her during her first years, and how she now tries to return the favor to her younger colleagues. And she loves seeing that spark with her students, noting: “I love to see students finding success where they don’t think it is possible.”
- Another high school teacher, who teaches social studies, winged his talk a bit, and told of teachers from his Catholic school days who made impressions on him. One teacher was brilliant, and he still draws on those memories to inspire him as a teacher. Another was brilliant but could not connect with students, and was unfair in grading and unhelpful in nurturing young minds. “He expected a lot of his students but he did not expect a lot of himself. He had the ability but not the desire.”
- Finally, a retired superintendent who now works for our state department of education concluded the Convocation with stories of her teaching days in Texas, and noted that so much of teaching is desire and drive. She also said that building a supportive school community, for staff as well as students, is crucial. “Our job is to be there for each other — to hold each other up. And when we take that as inspiration, we hold up all of our kids up, too.“
What a great way to start the year!
Peace (in the words),