New Beginnings…Here’s What I Know

April6, 2017
by Jean Ducey

New beginnings…. If we are honest, they are just as exciting as they are completely terrifying. We leave the comfort of what we know and have loved and stretch ourselves into that next space in front of us.

I’ve been kvetching over how to start this new beginning, this new blog… overthinking, blocked, rewriting, avoiding….uggg! Then I paused, took a deep breath and thought, “What would my teacher self say to me right now?” And then it came to me… that same voice I have whispered into the ears and hearts of hundreds of young writers over the years, I whispered into my own… “Just write what you know…”

And so, here it is, here is what I know. This is how I have started every new community of learners, welcomed every new parent group, every new school year, for the past 15 years. This poem, The Invitation, by Shel Silverestein has hung outside the door. It has become a mantra, a welcome mat and has gotten as worn as the Velveteen Rabbit so I have had to remake it twice! This is my virtual classroom. It seems only fitting I should hang it here as well.

Please now allow me to invite you into this space with me as a dreamer, a wisher, and a learner. Our jobs as educators have never been more important and never been more challenging. We all need each other…. to collaborate, to nudge, to celebrate and to grow. At times the words of the infamous Willie Wonka have become the new normal, “Hurry, hurry please… we have so much time and so little to do. Wait, wait a minute, strike that, reverse that please!” Yes, yes, yes, reverse that…all of that please!

And so, this is also what I know… This job of teaching little humans is not for the faint of heart. They come to us in Kindergarten “72 months from leaving the womb” (Thank you Kathy Grzesik for your wise words here) No matter what age, they need all of us, every little ounce of patience, compassion, magic and hope we have to offer. We need to STOP THE TREADMILL of what is constantly coming at us in education and be present for our kids. We need to walk alongside each other as colleagues and learners… not put our heads down, close our doors and simply carry on. We are the students of our students. Pay attention everyone, they are teaching us.

So please, I beg you, don’t hurry, don’t rush, don’t cram, don’t succumb to the unsustainable. Give yourself permission to slow down, even if it is just a little. Catch your breath, look around, find a quiet moment, reflect. Prioritize your day with best teaching practice, stay open minded, be responsive in your teaching and learning. Make this the pace and stride of your instruction and your learning environment. Create a community within the walls of both your classroom and school that is energized, curious, nurturing, joy filled and forward thinking. This sacred space and what is built inside is as invaluable as the curriculum we uncover.  We all know, each and every one of us in this field, deep down in our hearts, that education, like childhood, was never ever meant to be a race, but rather, a thoughtful, joyful, meaning filled journey!  Be brave, be kind, take care of yourself, take care of your students and take care of each other along the way.

What do you think?
I look forward to seeing you around here next time…
Until soon, jmd