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Happy New Year!. . . Boomerang Style

Welcome back! Hopefully this newsletter finds you happily and healthily into the start of another new year.

Isn’t it interesting that, as teachers, we get to experience two “new years”; we get the one in December that the rest of the world gets, and we also get this one, the one happening right now as the school year begins anew. And, although maybe not consciously, it could be argued that we bring many of the same traditions and feelings to the beginning of this “new year” that we do to that other new year.  Think about it…

We make resolutions:

This year I WILL grade and get all my papers back to students within the same week!

We see hope and possibility:

I can’t wait to meet all my new students this year and change their lives!

We celebrate:

Hey fellow staff members, let’s all go out to the coffee shop/bar and have a couple of lattes/tasty beverages to really start this year off right!

We look back on the year that has passed:

Holy cow, last year was amazing/terrifying. I hope this year is just as good/waaaay better.

Also similar to the other, more traditional New Year, it’s often difficult to find the necessary time to reflect on what the past year really meant for us. Often, we get busy right away declaring what we’re going to do in this upcoming year and/or reporting out what happened in the last year.  That can make it hard to find the time to think about the significance the last year held for us relative to our own growth, learning and personal “ah-ha” moments. We’re so focused on what the year was (Good? Bad? ) that we rarely ask ourselves What did I learn? or How did I grow?

While we can’t portend to know this answer for you, that’s something only you can uncover, please allow us to be the ones to help you understand the significance of a year in regards to some other folks in your life.

The fact is, a sizable number of students entered your classrooms a year ago and they left 9 months later. A similar number are doing the same thing right now. And by the end of this year they, like the thousands of students that came before them, will know the root causes of World War II or see the value of Algebra in their future lives or understand the abundance of symbolism brilliantly woven throughout To Kill a Mockingbird. But they will also learn something considerably more significant and far reaching than all of that other stuff put together: they will come to learn what they’re capable of, they will have a stronger sense of self, they will believe that they can achieve, all thanks to YOU.

Most people who are not in education perceive the teacher’s singular goal as this: to teach the curriculum. What they don’t often understand is that we do so much more than that. We not only teach our students, we reach them in ways that few others can. And it is in this manner of education that the real learning happens. It’s that spark in the eye of a suddenly understood concept. It’s that moment of “ah-ha” when connections are made. It’s that ear-to-ear grin when a frustrated student finally realizes, “Wow! I CAN do this”, or “I GET IT!” It’s the rare, “Thank you” from a student, for nothing in particular, but you absolutely know why. Make no mistake, along with History, Math and English, you are teaching the curriculum of confidence, of belief in oneself, of “I CAN do this.”

You have always done it and, thankfully, this year will be no different. THIS is the meaning and the significance of the upcoming year for all those students lucky enough to have a seat in your classrooms. And, if when June comes they don’t consciously understand what it is they’ve learned, they will the next year when they tackle their new classes and face those new challenges and they think to themselves, “This is hard, AND I can totally do it.”

So, in case you haven’t heard it yet this year (although we’re pretty sure you will), let us be the first to say, thank you.

And Happy New Year.

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