The air has that familiar chill that reminds us fall is nigh. A beautiful maple I noticed just last week had already turned golden and ruby in colour. The gardens are brimming with produce while the sun sets earlier on these late-summer nights. And for those of us working and learning in the public school system north of the 49th parallel (metaphorically and physically), school is just around the corner.
School is on my mind.
And if I had to write out my teacher 'to-do' list of what I need to remember this year- what needs to be done, that list would unfold as follows:
Show your students you care about them.
Don't forget this year to take pleasure in each and every day. Make each school day an adventure of learning, discovery and fun. Start out the morning determined that you will not let impersonal mandates, formal goals, distant rules, guidelines and protocol rob you of seeing the personal joys found in each new day. Rob you of really seeing the humanity in the people who have been placed on your path. Welcome your students. Smile at them. Say hello and ask them about their evening. Look into their eyes when they answer -- make sure to hold their gaze for those few brief moments that you have their undivided attention. Listen. And don't rush these precious, tender conversations. Relish the moments, both small and great that define your day.
Show students that you care about the subjects you teach.
Don't forget this year to enjoy what you are teaching. See the topics, themes, courses and curriculum as the resource they are. Let the resource work for you. Choose to see the opportunity rather than the limitations. Begin each day with the mindset that there is something worthwhile learning and let that mindset transfer to your students. Infuse your classroom with positivity, creativity, possibility, curiosity and hope. Welcome questions -- don't turn them away. Greet the inquisitive mind as a delight and honor the questions that come your way. Each moment that you are given is a gift- hold those brief moments in your hands with care.
Show people you care.
Don't forget to reach out to the others in your workplace. See the various people that cross your path as blessings, even if that might be in disguise! Treat everyone the exact same way you expect to be treated back -- with honour, integrity, compassion, grace and love. Let the golden rule be your guide. Welcome parents, volunteers, visitors and likewise into your school and classroom. Accept the ones you've been blessed to call co-workers. And respect each person as the unique individual they are, withholding judgment and opinions that are based on unfair, impartial reasoning.
Show YOU that you care.
Never forget to take care of yourself. Look after yourself this year. Be kind to yourself -- don't hold yourself to ridiculous standards. Try not to stress about the little things that no one will remember anyway. Get more rest. Go for walks. Exercise. Recharge. And although it might be unreasonable to ask that you leave your work troubles at your desk, try not to become a slave to your work. Set it all aside at times so as to connect with the people who are really what your work's all about. What life's all about. Determine this year that you will set work aside at times so as to refocus. That you will set work aside to rejuvenate. And when you are ready, determine that you will come back to your work with a renewed frame of mind, ready to give it your best self.
And above all, let your care for your students, your work and the people in your life be the one thing that defines you as a teacher this year.
To all the others out there preparing their 'to-do' lists and readying for back-to-school: may this upcoming year be the best one yet.
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