Every year I have the joy of welcoming a classroom full of new students back for a new school year. These students are new to my building and nervous for what’s to come. For students, every new school year can be uncomfortable. They are in a new setting, with a new teacher, with new students, and different classroom expectations. No classroom is the same. However, a new school year means a new start, new opportunities, and a clean sheet to work with.
How a student starts their new year depends on the support they are given. Whatever was difficult and frustrating from the previous year doesn’t have to transfer to the next year. If students are told that a new year means a new start and are encouraged to work hard, stay focused, and do right, then a new year can be a great experience. But above all, students need to feel supported. They need to know that the past is the past, and a new year means new opportunities.
We tend to think that a student is a sum of their grades or report cards. This thinking is far from the truth. Every student has something to offer. Every student is more than a letter grade, more than points on a report card, and more than a number on a test. Students are creative, passionate, funny, artistic, adventurous, enthusiastic, imaginative, original, talented, and many more wonderful descriptive words. What’s more is that each of these words cannot be assessed.
Parents and guardians, I am going to encourage you to let go of the idea that your child needs to have “A’s” in all subjects. Not all students are straight “A” students, and that is okay. Some students are gifted in writing but struggle in math. Some students are science minded, but hate to read. Some students love art and music, but struggle with finding interest in history. Please understand, I am not saying that some subjects are not important. What I am saying is that students have passions and gifts and should be encouraged to follow their passions and gifts. Just because a student struggles in a subject doesn’t mean they are not gifted or talented.
Finally, to make the best of a new year, keep open communication with your child’s teacher. Please understand, I am not saying you should call or email them every day. If needed, ask for weekly updates on your child. If you sense there is a problem, communicate with your child’s teacher. Do not play the blame game, rather seek out information that will help both parties involved. Always remember, teachers teach to help students succeed. Your child is important, and teachers know that. Remember, your child’s teacher is working with 27 to 35 other children in the same room, and that’s just elementary grades. Multiply those numbers by 10 for Jr. high and high school teachers. Ultimately, teachers can get busy quick, and parents need to pursue communication with their child’s teachers if they want information. Communication is a two-way street, some teachers have strong communication skills, while others might need to be pursued.
In conclusion, a new year means a new start. You and your child have an opportunity to start again and make wonderful progress. Encourage your child to pursue their passions and goals and don’t be afraid to let them fail. It is through failure that we truly learn. Finally, seek out an open communication with your child’s teacher. Teachers are busy and sometimes get bogged down with paperwork. If you sense there is a problem or an issue with your child, seek out your child’s teachers with the goal to help both parties involved.
Here is to a great new school year, and the possibilities that are waiting to be reached.