First Day of Class

For the last year, I have been writing a note to include in my daughter’s snack box. The notes are small and include some art that she will find meaningful and beautiful. The note is meant to give her a pick up and to remind her of what I want her to get out of the day. Her grade and scores do not reflect her growth and capability as a human being. School is not the end but a means to an end. In school, she learns to work hard, persevere, learn from mistakes, take responsibility for herself, collaborate, and take healthy risks. Along the way, she may pick up some reading, writing, art and the other stuff we teach. Ultimately, she gets to practice being the best version of herself. In the short term, she loves her notes and I love making them.

Today, in class, I used the same philosophy with my incoming 9th graders. As their teacher, their development as human beings is of paramount importance. The skills are the goal. The skills are what will make them successful in life. Their ability to self advocate, self regulate, and to find meaning and happiness in their work is what is important to me.

When I am no longer on the face of this planet, I hope that the people at my funeral speak of my relationship with them. I hope they remember me as a husband, father, friend, teacher, mentor, and joker. My degrees, my wealth, my action figures and all the other stuff I have accumulated won’t matter. My connection to the people in my life and the quality of that connection are the best indicators of happiness and success.

How do you start your first day of school?

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