Happy new (school) year!

The most wonderful time of the year

It’s that time of the year again – the beginning of a new school year. The launch of a new school year has always felt like another occasion to wish everyone Happy New Year! (Confession: I have definitely been known to exuberantly exclaim ‘Happy New Year’ to colleagues and students in the hallways this time of year.) It feels like a great time to get geared up and aligned for a fresh start. The weather is (hopefully) cooling off, and there’s a crisp alertness in the air.

This year, of course, is different. Again. After enduring arguably the toughest year ever to be a teacher, we’re heading out again into further uncharted territory. Maybe we’re excited. Perhaps we’re anxious. We can’t wait to see our students. And likely, we’re feeling trepidation about how all of this will unfold. As my eight-year-old quipped on her way to summer camp: we’re nervicited.

So, dear educator, this blog post is our love letter to you. Your New School Year care package, if you will. Filled with our wishes, hopes, and dreams to support you in the year ahead. There will be highs and lows, and we’ll be right by your side.

Ready

And knowing many of you, you’ve been at it all summer. Reflecting, planning, preparing. And hopefully taking some down time, too. Time to recharge, refresh, and renew your spirit and body. We’re all familiar with the metaphor of putting our own oxygen mask on before helping others. These days, more than ever, that remains important.

With our feet solidly under us, we can do anything. To get yourself ready and grounded, here is some food for thought:

  • In To the emotional resilience of educators Katy Farber reminds us of the toll that care work takes on us, and what to do about it (hint: boundaries, resilience, and pausing are key strategies)
  • The tips shared in Pandemic teaching: self-care edition are (unfortunately) still relevant. Someday we’ll look back on these years as a specific era that came to an end, but for now, we’re still in that tunnel. Taking care of our big rocks (sleep, nutrition) and ‘settling the ball’ can help us navigate another unusual year.
online culminating events
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Steady

The world is an exciting and dramatic place these days. To the point of exhaustion, really. If the education-centered hubbub on your social media feed raises your anxiety level, you’re not alone. Equity work in schools is essential and important. And change is hard. As poet Maya Angelou said, ‘when you know better, you do better.’ And that’s what educators are all about. So as you anticipate challenging conversations about your commitment to students and to equity, here are some supporting words:

Go

After readying and steadying ourselves, we’re eagerly anticipating the good part: being with our students! As we launch into this next school year, our students remind us of the reasons we’re here. How can we engage them in meaningful and relevant learning that will also boost their mental health and resilience? Here are a few ideas: 

  • Why and how to teach education for sustainability explores an approach to learning that engages youth in improving the quality of life in their community here and now. In an era when many things feel out of our control, feeling empowered to make a difference…makes a big difference.
  • Want to hear more about service-learning? Then you should definitely give the #vted Reads episode All about service-learning a listen. There, host Jeanie Phillips chats with our colleague Katy Farber about the what, how and why of service learning. (Bonus points if you pair your listening with a walk in the woods. Forest bathing, anyone?)
  • Notice a theme here? How a PTO connected students with community during COVID takes us on an exploration of how to build exciting and engaging learning spaces with community. And that’s something we could all use more of!

Onward

So, dear educator, happy new year! While we don’t yet know what this year will hold, we can be assured it will be dynamic, evolving, and full of growth. For all of us. We’re sending you off into this fresh, new year to keep doing amazing things for and with your students. We see you, we support you, and we celebrate you! Welcome back. Happy new (school) year! You got this.

You got this
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Author

Emily Hoyler

Emily Hoyler has joined the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education as a Professional Development Coordinator after nearly two decades working as an educator, including five years as a sixth grade teacher, and three years as the Curriculum Specialist at Shelburne Farms. Emily’s current interests include designing concept-based interdisciplinary curriculum, mindfulness in the classroom, and creating rejuvenating professional development experiences for fellow educators. Emily is a nationally certified facilitator for The Origins Program’s Developmental Designs workshops and served as a Visiting Lecturer in Education Studies at Middlebury College where she taught community-connected courses on elementary methods and Education for Sustainability. Emily lives at the top of a mountain in Ripton, Vermont, with her husband and many Wild Things, including three children, three chickens, a dog, a cat, and various other untamed critters.

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