"Let us move forward with boldness and not retreat back into the comforts of the past." - David March
I absolutely love the excitement in the air this time of year. As much as I hate to see summer come to an end, I also look forward to the new school year. By now educators are rested and ready to get back to a routine. Ready to try out new ideas or the opportunity to make the improvements we are certain will fix frustrations from years past. There is something special about the start of a new school year. Each one brings a hope and excitement for what is yet to come.
The end of summer also leads to the anticipation of another round of sports seasons, which reminds me of the common "hold the rope" rally cry. Coaches work hard to find ways to bring their teams together, and a sports season mirrors a school year in many ways.
Everyone starts out with a clean slate. Every team or classroom at this time of year has a chance at greatness. New stars are ready to shine, whether it's the new teacher eager to make a difference, or a player getting their crack at a starting role, anything is possible. Classroom lesson plans all look great on paper, just as a coach has high hopes for the streamlined game plans.
Team leaders are doing everything in their power to find the magic formula for the perfect team rapport, just as school leaders are preparing to lay the foundation to ensure teachers and students are performing at high levels in the classroom.
The reality of the matter is that I love sports for the same reasons I love this time of year in a school. There is an excitement in the halls, as teachers share their ideas for the things they have in store for students. Every year, my favorite teams have a chance to win a championship. Every season new players step in and take over for departed ones. Sure we know who the favorites are, but there is always that surprise player that makes an impact and shines in ways nobody expected. This time of year we get a new roster of students, some we may know, others we don't. But in that list of students, greatness awaits.
It's this time of year when teachers are at their best. Well rested, and excited about the potential. The key to a school or classroom championship lies in the same place as a state championship in sports. When is the last time you ever heard a coach from a championship team talk about how dysfunctional the team was through the year? Great teams are great because they work together and throughout the season everyone makes an impact in whatever role they hold. From the practice players that serve as "tackling dummies" to the star quarterback, throughout a championship run, everyone is important. In our classrooms and schools we need to create this same championship mindset.
In the "hold the rope" metaphor, the idea is simply that everyone is holding the rope and pulling in the same direction. For educators, excited about the new school year and all it brings, reality says the day to day grind will play a toll at some point. A championship school is only possible when everyone pulls for what is best for students at all times.
As the excitement of the new year wears off, day to day requirements pile up. It is crazy to think you can survive on your own. Just think how ridiculous it would be to play football without an offensive line. The offense would be a disaster, and if you can't score you can't win. The start of the year isn't the challenge. The start of the year is your chance to make a life changing 1st impression for your students. After that the real challenge is working together to maintain the natural excitement that is in place right now. This can only be done when you have the support of those around you. Now is your time to firmly establish your lifeline for the days when you feel you can't go another day. While you probably don't need them right now, keep in mind that support system needs to recognize when they are needed so they can lift you up when you need it most.
The anticipation of what is yet to come is exciting. If you want your classes and school to be great, make sure everyone is holding the rope. It's a lot easier to test the strength of that rope now, while your safe. As you dangle from the many cliffs you will conquer through the year, you need to be certain that rope will be strong enough. If you are lucky enough to have a solid rope and a positive support system, you will make this year a life changing year for your students.
Let us move forward with boldness and not retreat back into the comforts of the past.