Monday, August 18, 2014


The first day of school is coming... for some it has already come.

I always loved the first day of school---as a student and as a teacher.

The possibilities that hung in the air as we drew nearer to opening day.
The learning waiting to happen in those sparkling clean rooms.
The brilliance ready to sit in those empty seats.
The collaboration and inspiration ... the AHAs!

The anticipation  was such a grand and welcome feeling.

On the first day, we meet those who will be part of our learning community for the coming year.

We meet those who come ready to learn--those whose experiences until now have been wonderfully successful and encouraging

We meet those who are coming with years of negative  school experiences behind them--bringing their wariness and fear.

We meet those who are coming with worries and   baggage  from home-- those with nowhere to turn except you.

And we meet those eager to start anew, anxious to wipe the old slate clean and begin again.

The first day  brings all of these together.

As a teacher, how will you meet each one's needs?  How will you meet their collective needs?

How will your nurture yourself so that you can in turn foster growth and learning and unlimited possibilities for your students?

As we begin again.... or as we enter as new teachers for the first time into this magical space where anything can happen,  we know that  the teaching profession has become more challenging.

As we face economic and political roadblocks, as we face legislative and corporate demands, as we deal with new standards and old   scenarios,  we need ways to sustain ourselves and our work.

Meenoo Rami offers us this sustenance.  In Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching she offers practical and necessary ways we can  remain true to ourselves, connected to others, and able to deal with the vulnerability of being a new or veteran teacher in this century.

Rami suggests ways that we can combat the isolation of our own classrooms, seek and choose mentors, work collaboratively, online and  face-to-face, to build networks of learning and support, as well as advocate for, and empower both our students and ourselves.

She shares her own journey:
... the  sheer exhaustion from long days of teaching, grading, and planning that would leave me depleted...sometimes my best effort would not even be enough, and I would have this dreadful feeling that I was not even prepared to teach on that particular day.

She also shares how she
 discovered her own power to find meaning solve complex problems and make meaningful connections that inspire me to this day.

As I reflect on my own teaching career, I realize that I have been fortunate to have followed the path beyond survival to thriving as outlined by Rami.

From the first day of my first full-time experience, I have always had mentors who offered their shoulders to stand on--mentors who pushed me forward, pulled me back at times, and always had my back.

Mildred Dorr was my assigned mentor in my first assignment.  She remained my friend and advocate until the day she died.

As I was invited to join curriculum development groups within my district and also began to provide professional development training in variety of areas ( mainly literacy related), I also developed friendships with like-minded colleagues--several of whom I am still friends today.

Within these groups, I found folks interested in growing professionally in ways similar ways to my own interests. Our professional paths and training developed a parallel manner.

We challenged each other's thinking, theories, and practice.
We collaborated, wrestled, argued, laughed, experimented... and grew together.

I was fortunate.

In addition, I found, and continue find, support locally and nationally in formal professional organizations and their respective programs, including:

National Writing Project (NWP) 
The Columbus Area Writing Project (CAWP)

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
The Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA)

International Reading Association (IRA)
The Ohio Council of the International Reading Association (OCIRA)

Reading Recovery Council of North America

To whom will you look as mentors this year?

Where will you look to establish networks of support and communities for collaboration?

What routines and disciplines will you  institute to empower your students and yourself?

What are your sources of new knowledge?

What will you do this year so that you and your students can thrive?

Related Posts

School Daze, my "first day of school post"  from last year.

Teacher Vulnerability

The Joy (and Burden) of Teaching

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Reflect on your profession.  What characteristics and conditions  are essential for  effectiveness and success?

How can you develop these characteristics and establish the necessary conditions?

Identify current or possible mentors.
List current and/or possible networks of support and communities of learning.

What are your goals this year?
Who can help you achieve them?

Write a letter to yourself outlining your plan to thrive this year.

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