September is here. It is a time of transition, once again. Already, some schools are back in session, or soon will be after the Labor Day holiday. With two sons still in high school, I have wishes for both of them, as well as for myself, for this upcoming year.
What I wish for my high school students, a senior and a sophomore:
1. I hope that you have a year filled with learning that is satisfying. You both are self-directed in your learning already, so I hope for that to continue. But, I hope you find some joy, satisfaction, and challenge in your school work.
2. I hope that you have teachers who really love to teach and do their job well. I believe most people in academics want this for themselves. However, in today’s educational climate whether love for teaching stays or morphs into frustration is up to the individual and the circumstances in which they find themselves. You never can tell how it is going to be.
3. Be a squeaky enough wheel that you get some grease, but not so squeaky that you become labelled, are repelled, or left “flat”. We all know squeaky wheels get the grease. Sometimes, I become concerned that the “average” or even “gifted” student’s needs are overlooked because “they are doing okay” or do not make enough noise to be heard.
4. Continue to be involved. Enjoy your sports: tennis, track, and soccer. You are both loyal and committed athletes that are assets to your team and teammates. I hope that is recognized. Appreciate other forms of involvement and creative expression.
5. I hope your organizational skills continue to grow. I hope you have teachers that will continue to model how to organize, study, and ready yourself for performance. We need more of this.
6. I want you both to continue to manage your time well. Please, continue to adhere to our family belief that academics comes first.
7. Appreciate and widen your support system. You never know when you will need a friend, mentor, advocate, recommendation, or advice. Know that your supports can be people from all walks of life. Continue to be a support to others, as well. Both of you are apt at lending a hand, and not for any reason (credit, recognition, etc,) other than because you can and want to help. This makes me especially proud.
8. Be a good friend, as well as a good student. Try hard, do your best, and good things will come to you (hopefully)!
9. Continue to make good and safe decisions. Thank you.
10. Finish as strong as you start, meet the goals you set, and get ready to fly!
What I wish for myself for this school year
- I wish that parents voices are heard, contemplated, and included in district decision-making.
- I hope that no educator calls my student or any other student “stupid”. This is somewhat of an old wound but one that is ripped open at the outset of each new semester. Therefore, it needs mentioning.
- I hope that I can verbalize concerns rationally, without too much intensity.
- I believe that while we are good, we can always be better at what and HOW we educate our students. Strive for excellence, not meritocracy. Do not give in to “good enough” mentality. There is always room for improvement.
- I hope there is a lessening need for character education. This starts and grows at home, not just within the school walls for only 8 hours a day.
- I hope for more transparency in grading. The students deserve “a bird’s eye view” of their semester at the outset. This means having a comprehensive syllabus that includes ALL points and percentages for the entire course, from start to finish, delineating where (what assessments) those points are derived from. This means not changing points, percentages, or multipliers, without first informing the students. This means the teacher assigning the work is the one to grade it, unless the students are aware, in advance, that a “co-teacher” will grade their work. This means, having your act together before you start assessing. This means grading in a timely fashion, and not withholding a grade to see how they do on other assessments first. The students deserve all of this and more. You are affecting their learning outcomes in both good and bad ways. I hope for more good than bad, this year.
- I hope that I use restraint in paying attention to the digital grade book (which I hate). For me, this means looking at it only twice a week or less. It means my students (and yours) need to keep abreast of it themselves.
- I hope that no summative assessments are lost by any teacher! Again, somewhat of an old wound, but one that was not resolved satisfactorily. If a test is lost, the party responsible needs to make amends, not the student.
- I hope that hard work is recognized and rewarded.
- I hope our educators are filled with passion for their subject area as well as a caring attitude toward their students.
- I hope that teachers invest in all students. This means getting to know them all, not just those you think you connect with.
- I hope that I transition to not volunteering this fall. I know I can find other ways to contribute and I will.
- I hope that all volunteers are recognized and appreciated for their contributions.
- I hope that our educators, students, and administrators stay safe.
- I hope that our buildings are warm, friendly, approachable places for both students, parents, and community members. Smile, and say, hello!
I hope for a great year! Let us all make it so! It does take a village!