School started last week, and I have to admit that I don’t really like the first few days. I know a lot of teachers love it: the new faces, the shiny floors, the endless possibilities unraveling every day. I always want to jump right into things, and I’ve learned over time that it’s better to go really slow, walk students through every routine—a few times—to try to keep things more organized as the year progresses. Plus, there’s a lot of housekeeping and mandatory activities we have to do because our school earned a D on the state report card.
For instance, we must have data folders filled with all sorts of information: standards, school-wide exam information, state test information, etc. etc. And then we have to do a class mission for each class we teach. The last couple years we’ve changed from calling it a mission statement to asking the question: “Why Are We Here?”
This year, I have one group of sweet-faced 6th graders who look completely doe-eyed. They’ve worked diligently through everything we’ve done in class so far. During the mission statement activity, I had the students work in groups to come up with their ideas. When I asked the students to share, they went through the regular suggestions: “To be better readers!” “ To be better writers” “To know enough to go on to 7th grade!” Then one boy who sits in the middle table raised his hand and half-said, half-asked, “To be better people?”
“I hope so,” I answered. “I really hope so.”
When have you wanted to be a better person?