August 29, 2016 by HCDE-Texas
One year I called my younger brother at the end of the first week of school and told him what a hard year it had already been for me. His response: All eight months? For people who don’t work a school schedule, our year is a different year. August is the start of our year, not the eighth month of it. As school started this week, I was reminded of the responsibility of all educators to remember why we are here: student success.
Student success comes from all influences in a district—from the superintendent to the teacher to the groundskeepers to the referees at football games. We each have an opportunity to influence students somehow, and on our shoulders rests the success of every student in our districts. So how do we face a year that could be underfunded, understaffed and over-tested? We call on grace, and we call on ingenuity to get us through the day.
Grace comes in many forms. As educators and district employees, we need to remind ourselves that we don’t deal in commodities and abstracts—we deal in real, live human beings who may not have breakfast, who may have lost a parent or a sibling, who may or may not have a roof over their heads. Grace reminds us to listen to these children, hear their points of view and their stories, and equip and support them along their storied paths. There is no power quite like the belief in another human being.
As C.S. Lewis reminds us: “We are what we believe we are.” No child comes to any school wanting failure and wanting struggle. All children want to succeed and see achievement each and every day in their lives.
But it is ingenuity that is the hallmark of a dedicated educator. That inventiveness and resourcefulness accompanied by grace will be what propels students toward success. Find a new way to teach a math concept so that it becomes more concrete for students. Choose a novel that students like and can relate to. Design a science experiment that will blow their minds and will encourage them to seek out new discoveries on their own. If you re-imagine a new way to teach often, you are invigorated in this profession and by extension you keep moving students along their paths to more success.
Meet this school year head-on with equal portions of grace and ingenuity, and maybe your first hard week will result in a glorious school year full of student success beyond your wildest dreams.
About the Blogger:
Kelly Tumy is curriculum director for English language arts and social studies in the Teaching and Learning Center at HCDE. During her 26-year career in education/administration, she has loyally served Harris County as an educator in Galena Park, Humble and most recently Crosby ISD. Tumy’s workshops focus on relevant, responsive and research-based professional learning that yield increased student achievement and teacher engagement. Follow her on Twitter @KellyTumy .