Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ready or Not...Here They Come!!

The signs are all around us...the crowds are growing smaller, it is getting easier to drive down highway 71, and sandals are on clearance at WalMart.  That's right, summer is coming to an end.  My family and I visited Arnold's Park this weekend and you could almost feel the end of summer in the air.  Another sure sign of the changing of the seasons occurred throughout the Okoboji School District last week, teachers and support staff reported back for the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. 

I often get asked by students, "What exactly do you guys do when we aren't there?"  My usual response with a hint of sarcasm is "mainly sit around and talk about you."  This answer of course is a JOKE and completely NOT TRUE (but it does make for an interesting reaction before I tell them I am kidding :-) )  In truth the days before students arrive are spent busily preparing as a staff and individually for the oncoming year.  The staff of OHS have been hard at work preparing to make the 2010-2011 school year our best one yet. 

I love the rhythm of a school year.  There is a true ebb and flow to it and I always liken a school year to a good book.  There is a definite beginning and end and usually a lot of twists and turns along the way.  We all have a pretty good idea where we are going to end up but the details that fill in along the way are always what sets each year apart from another.  We will have our good times, our rough times, and a whole lot in between.

One of the things I always like to do this time of year is try to inspire my staff and motivate them to get the year off to a great start.  I remind them how important their jobs are and how enthusiasm is infectious.  If we are excited to be here and excited to work with our students, the students will be excited as well.  I also try to challenge them.  One of the things I shared with them this year was an blog entry that found its way to me through Twitter.  It is an open letter to teachers on the start of the school year and it encapsulates much of what I have encouraged my teachers to do this year.  You can read the original post here:

Here are a few highlights....
  • Take lots of risks for the sake of learning
  • Make a concentrated effort to learn something new that has little to do with your classroom and share it with your students - be a model of lifelong learning
  • Don't work all of the time - education is a job that can chew up A LOT of time.  Keep your priorities straight.  Don't cheat your family to spend more time working...if you do, no one wins.  A good teacher is a balanced teacher, not a workaholic.
  • Model the behaviors and habits you want to see in your students.  Students are always watching and they are the first to spot when your words and actions don't line up.  Lead by example.  If we want optimistic students, show them optimism.  If we want determined students, show them determination.  If we want problem solvers, let them see you overcoming obstacles and the work it takes to do so.  This also goes for learning to be good citizens.  One of my favorite educational quotes comes from former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett.  It says:
   “For children to take morality seriously they must be in the presence of adults who take morality seriously. And with their own eyes they must see adults take morality seriously.”
  •   Have fun
  • Work on your "crap detector" and teach your students to develop theirs.  We are bombarded with information constantly and much of it just is not accurate.  Teaching students how to discern the truth from the lies and the important from the unimportant will serve them well.  
And the last point in the post may be my says "Do good stuff."  If we all committed to doing that as much as we could in all walks of life, what a wonderful world it would be!

Enjoy these first days of school.  Whatever your involvement with our great district, lets make 2010-2011 Okoboji's best year yet! 

Have a great week!

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