Doug Hoogerland, Principal
“Hurry up!” “Let’s go!” “We’re going to be late!” Sound familiar? These are just some of the statements that can be heard in nearly any household during the morning prep for school, or at dinnertime as evening activities such as ball practice, music lessons or a church activity, raise the level of anxiety and competes with family time. In those moments, how are you feeling as a parent? How are your children feeling? Even the dog must sense the stress of all that intensity and expectation!
So when is it that you have an opportunity to slow, to stop, to reflect and to improve? When do you feel that you can reconnect with your intentions as a parent and also possibly “vent” about the concerns you have for your children? When can you take a deep breath and look carefully at yourself in this most important role as parent? My guess is these moments happen when your children are asleep, or at a play date, or when you have adult time with other parents. It is the same for your child’s teacher.
Compare your morning routine, evening rush, or weekend activities to that of a school teacher who is preparing for a day organized to meet the needs of 24-30+ children: straightening up the room, writing the daily schedule on the board with the day’s lunch choices, organizing homework and student math journals, returning parent phone calls and emails and making last minute copies, all before that bell rings and while students can be heard outside the school laughing, giggling, chanting, cheering and yes, even screaming at the tops of their lungs. Imagine all that a teacher accomplishes under pressure before the students enter the classroom. Like you, educators require time to replenish themselves, not just personally, but professionally.
Professional development days (this year, early dismissal and late start) are luxurious, unrushed times when educators have the rare opportunity to meet, collaborate, and refresh their intentions as teachers. Despite the possible inconvenience of these days to some families, these days can be looked upon as times when teachers reconnect with their missions and share ideas, ultimately leading to higher quality education for students. Professional discussions and high level engagement on the very topics that lead to a high quality education for all students are at the forefront of our teachers’ agendas on these days. In 21 years as a professional educator myself, it is my observation that the rare times when teachers have time to meet, discuss, reflect, and plan with colleagues have been the greatest opportunities for improving what they do – and they do it for our kids.