“There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” Jean-Paul Sartre
Each year it seems I get at least one of those students who is crying out for attention. Having not found enough of it in a positive direction, they reach out for it in the wrong places. This year, I have six of these students. Of course it’s a little much. Some are carry-overs from other teachers and some are brand new to us. Finally, in mid-year, they’re learning to work well as a team. Unfortunately, we had a slip up yesterday, and that’s where I have an opportunity.
Just as we adults make mistakes, and we do make them over and over, children also need opportunities to start over. Today will be that day. As normal, I will greet my children at the door with a handshake and a smile. I have the unique opportunity to let this student know that he can start over today.
Teachers can give the gift of starting over in several ways:
1. Forgive and forget. I sometimes have difficulty forgetting and allowing the student to truly start over. Yet, when I do wrong, I expect others to forget it. One thing we should remember is how to delete the data we’ve stacked against a student. How will they ever change if we don’t give them a daily opportunity?
2. Look for the positive. This can be difficult. Some students have worked hard to master making bad choices, and it is often hard to find even one small thing to say something good about. Yet, if we look long enough with the right kind of eyes, we’ll see some magical moment when we can loudly cheer, “Great job!”
3. Set the student up for success. I must admit that, at times, I’ve found negative thinking taking root about a student. In our minds, we might even plan out something we will say when the student crosses the line. Yet, we know that the way to help the student do well is to set them up for success. We need to look for ways where they can excel. We know it, and we have to be intentional about it daily.
Let’s remember why we started this occupation. It wasn’t for the money; it was to change lives. Let’s not grow weary in well-doing. Today, we can start over and allow our students to do the same.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank