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"Here’s What I Learned in School this Week, Daddy!"

Many schools across the nation started a brand new school year few weeks ago. In New York State, this was the first week for my three children, Ellen (age 9), Nora (age 11), and Eddie (age 13). Grades 4, 6, and 8. Three different schools in my district. But, one commonality, however.

Typically, when I ask my children “how school went” or “what they learned today,” I often get the response: “Nothing” from them. You might get this too. I think I used to say that to my parents when I was a kid. Not because “nothing” really happened, but because I didn’t want to talk about school especially after just coming home from school!

But, I’m almost convinced that “not much of anything” took place OR, at least, pretty close to it based on my kids’ responses after they had a snack and opened up a bit more about their first week of school. Here is what they said:

  • “I just gotta get through this school year [so I can be with my sister, Nora, at her school].”

  • “I learned how to behave even though I know how to behave. I’m a good girl.”

  • “One kid in my class cried from start to finish because she missed her mom and this was the focus all day long for my teacher.”

  • “Everyone else went outside on the playground, except us.”

  • “It was an OK day. Just rules and stuff, though.”

School should be an exciting time for the kids and the educators, starting on Day 1. Maybe if we spend too much time telling kids how to behave at the start of the school year, it places a spotlight on how we think they won’t behave and maybe that leads to misbehavior. -OR- Maybe it is just a huge waste of time. Organized folders? Check. Knowing where to put finished homework? Check. Being told how to behave, how they will be graded, how many assignments they will get, and when their reading logs are due? Check. Check. Check. AND Check!

As these types of first week teachers slip into the Bermuda Triangle of the first week of school, there are other teachers all over the nation who engage their learners, know what is priority for the first week, know what will turn on their students (not turn off their students) and know how to make school a lasting impression that will continue on for the rest of the school year.

So, how did you spend your first week of school as an educator this year?

As a parent, I felt that receiving the following note from one of the school leaders of my children struck me as a bit odd. Although I took the time to underline a certain amount of repetition within this note, I thought about the first week that this principal must have had too.

I hope principals, superintendents, and other school leaders balanced the managerial stuff with leadership passions that were fun for them too. I don’t know. Maybe all of the rules, expectations, and organizational stuff will end during Week #2 or maybe notes home will be more concise. I hope so.

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