Don’t you just hate it when you are still enjoying your summer and you see those “back-to-school” sale signs? Well, I’m about to “back-to-school” sale sign you! While it is important to give ourselves a break over the summer, and it IS important to give ourselves a break to maintain our sanity and our ability to best serve those with whom we work (students, parents, colleagues, etc.), we can use the downtime of summer to start shaping and organizing our next year.
Who are you Serving?
Recently I heard Susan here at EducationCloset challenge her Arts Integration Certification Specialist students to examine who is being served well and who is not being served well at their schools. It’s an interesting and important question.
It reminded me of something I wrote about nearly 3 years ago now: Following Your North Star – a guiding principle you the educator feel is most important, that thing that underscores everything else that you do. What if we applied that to the essential question posed by Susan? What if you took some time this summer to think about who you serve well and who you don’t?
Following Your North Star
If you are a teacher, perhaps you serve those students who learn most like you. Maybe you provide lots of opportunity for exciting group work and projects that work wonderfully for many of your students but not enough time for those who require more silent, personal reflection. If you are an administrator, perhaps the people who are being served well are those teachers who check their email regularly but maybe you are missing some of those teachers who are more old school and prefer a note in the mailbox or a personal conversation. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses and therefore we serve some people better than we serve others.
What if you took some time this summer to really ponder that question? Let it marinate as you enjoy your downtime. If you are really letting your mind work on this problem of those you are not serving well than as you are doing something else – gardening, bicycling, swimming – your North Star may emerge. You may not only identify those you want to better serve but you may intuit that thing that you want to help guide you through this year to better serve everyone with whom you work.
The tricky thing, once you have your North Star is that you have to keep looking at that star. If you forget to look to your star, you will likely find yourself off the course again because you are just going to head the direction you already know so well.
Write that North Star in your plan book. Write it on a sticky note that you keep on your computer. Make a sign for your desk. Make a sign for your classroom or office. Maybe this North Star can be something that helps your teachers or your students as well as yourself.
As you go through your days next school year, you can use that North Star as your guide to be sure you are serving all your students, families, and teachers and not just the majority of them. Let this North Star be the way in which you organize every lesson, every unit to be sure you and everyone on your ship with you are always headed in the right direction.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.