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The Hope for a Normal School Year

Tips for New Teachers, Mentors, and ALL Teachers

A new school year is coming soon for many students and teachers as August and September are quickly approaching. Excitement, curiosity, apprehension, and concern are just some of the emotions I hear and see of colleagues, friends, and family. One commonality among the majority is HOPE. Hope for a smooth start. Hope for a regular schedule. Hope for learning gains. Ultimately, hope for a NORMAL school year. What is normal though? 

This thought really struck me when I met a teacher on vacation recently. My husband always teases me because I seem to always meet at least one new person who is a teacher – everywhere we go. This summer was no different, even outside of the country, as I met several! Breanna stood out though. She was excited to share about being a 3rd-grade teacher and we swapped a few stories of the unusual experiences of the last couple of years. Then she shared, “I just hope I have a normal year for once. I don’t know what it is like to have that yet because it is only going to be my third year of teaching.” My heart immediately went out to her and so many others wanting a redo on their first year of teaching!

Keep teachers like Breanna in mind, as well as the rest of us, as you read a few tips for keeping hope alive as you start a new school year. Let’s be real – we are all hopeful for a normal school year. 

Tip #1: Be Open to a New Normal

Let’s circle back to that question – what is normal? Some think of normal as rewinding to teaching the way it was pre-Covid. Some think it should just be a year of teaching without interruptions. Some think normal is actually different per individual. Some think there isn’t such a thing as a normal year. In whatever way you view normal, be open to what a NEW normal may be. 

I decided to think back to what I remembered as my normal. Then, connect it to what I also know will keep me hopeful and energized this school year. Here are some ideas of what I want my new normal to be this year:

  • Be a learner – keep an open mind to new suggestions and ideas.
  • Student-Focused – use language that is focused around students.
  • Take breaks – just remember to take breaks, whether just mental or even brief!

Tip #2: Check in on Each Other 

Let’s make it normal to check in on each other. Beginning teachers are going to need a great deal of support as they most likely haven’t even had a normal student-teaching experience. Second-year teachers and third-year teachers will need checking in on as well. Remember Breanna! But that’s not all… Every teacher needs a check-in at some point! 

One easy way to check in is to ask questions. In a recent video interview with Natalie, a teacher mentor in Missouri, she shared a tip of being specific with asking questions. Rather than the generic, “How’s it going?” Instead, ask questions like:

  • What was a success from the math lesson you taught today?
  • How did the new strategy work for student A?
  • Do you have any questions about the upcoming reading unit?

Looking Ahead

As you make your way into this school year, remember how you can make your new normal. In connection with that open mindset, I am already working on the next post and a video that will showcase information and tools related to collective mindset. 

References

  • Brueggeman, A. (2022). Natalie’s Advice: Balance, Questions, and Time. YouTube. https://youtu.be/wUw2P6Y9yAk 
  • Brueggeman, A. (April 2022). Student-Centered Mentoring. Thousand Oaks, California:

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