Students arrived today dressed in their uniforms looking quite spiffy. There were few smiles as most had tentative looks on their faces. After two decades of first days I know seldom do students show up to school thinking, "This year will be a failure." Rather most arrive hoping this year will be different. They look at you through lowered lashes, they wait to see just what you will be like, they wait to see if you will care, they wait....
Once a professor said to me, "Don't smile the first six weeks." Another said, "Don't smile until Christmas." Finally, one said, "Show them you love them with a firm command of the class. Be compassionate, organized, and set a high expectation." I found out quickly not smiling does not work for me. I like a little humor on the first day. I like expectations to be high and clear. I like to encourage those students to believe they can achieve the goals.
Working with teachers now, I think the same strategies work. We are all fearful of failing or loosing control. We must remember how we are motivated and encouraged to believe we can do the impossible. Threats, fear, or being treated like one is incompetent seldom creates team spirit or a dying of self wants. Rather when we are encouraged, cheered, and supported to work together, people work harder, do more, and pay it forward.
Today, an amazing group of very young teachers banded together and achieved an amazing first day. This was accomplished because each person did not only his or her job, but stepped up and did anything that needed doing. I was amazed. I love teachers always, but I especially love them when they give their very best for students.