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Back to school, back to school…

Posted Sep 09 2011 2:55pm

…I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight…(thanks, Billy Madison!)

I have always loved September because growing up, September meant going back to school. I enjoyed my summer vacations, but I always looked forward to buying new school supplies, finding out who my teachers were, and getting back into the swing of the school year. I loved the thrill of seeing friends for the first time in weeks. I loved the excitement and buzz that filled the air during the first few weeks of school. I loved adjusting to life in a different grade, or even a different school. I loved setting goals for myself personally, academically, and socially. September was always a happy month.

I’ve worked in a school for the past two years, so I still get to experience the excitement of September. Even though I work in administration and I don’t teach anymore, I’m still delighted by the sounds of kids’ voices in the hallways outside my office. I love seeing the kindergarten students running around on the playground outside my window, laughing and playing four square and tunnel tag. I relish in the hustle and bustle of students, parents, staff, and teachers hurring about the school. I appreciate the sense of newness and optimism that permeates the classrooms and offices.

September means excitement and joy, and it also means readjustment. When I was a student, returning to school meant getting used to waking up earlier, doing homework every night, and prioritizing my time better. Now, it means falling back into the pace and rhythm of the school year. This summer brought some amazing adventures: our trip to Canada , our move to a different apartment , lots of wedding planning, tutoring a student a few days a week, getting back into the swing of exercising regularly . I had a fabulous, exciting summer, but part of me feels very relieved to get back to the routine that I keep during the school year.

One activity that some of my teacher friends do with their students at the start of the school year is creating individual and class hopes and dreams. The students make attainable and realistic goals that they aim to accomplish by the end of the year both on their own and with the rest of their classmates. Ruth Charney, author of the educational philosophy book Teaching Children to Care, writes that “the process of developing hopes and dreams each year is a process of reviving hope.” In the spirit of returning to school, giving myself some challenges, and keeping myself hopeful and spirited in a new work year, I have put together some of my own hopes and dreams for the coming months.

My hopes for myself for this year are…

…to say what I mean and mean what I say in my personal and professional life.

This year, I hope to continue to be intentional in my communications with others. I want to always think before I speak and be thoughtful and considerate about what I say. I also hope to be more courageous about speaking up for myself when I feel that my voice is not being heard. I always want to speak kindly and respectfully to others.

…to do my best to give other people the benefit of the doubt.

My cohort talked about this a lot in my teaching credential program, and I find myself thinking back on our conversations frequently in my current position and in my personal relationships as well. I can sometimes jump to conclusions about people and situations before I have all of the information necessary to make an informed opinion or judgment. This year, I hope to remind myself to always give other people the benefit of the doubt before I make decisions about anything.

…to truly listen to the needs and desires of my family, friends, fiance, co-workers, and prospective families so I can then determine the best way for me to respond.

A big piece of my job is guiding prospective families through the daunting process of applying to private elementary school. In order to be successful in my job, I need to continue to listen closely to what these families say–and don’t say–so I can be most helpful to them. The same goes for my family, friends, and J–I really need to talk less and listen more so I can be the best daughter, sister, fiancee (and, soon enough, wife!), and friend I can be. This will be especially important as J and I continue to go through some exciting, big changes in the coming months.

…to try at least one new thing a month.

I am being purposefully vague about this one because I don’t want to limit myself! I do want to challenge myself to be adventurous and try new things–new activities, new restaurants, new foods, new parks, new running routes, etc.–and meet new people. Next week, J and I are starting a three-week introductory yoga class, and I can’t wait to see what else I try this year.

…to make time in my daily life to read for fun.

This summer, I rediscovered my love of reading, and I want to continue to make time for reading during the school year. It’s been so wonderful for me to make time to read almost every day, even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes, and I want to continue with this.

…to make time to cook every week.

Since returning from Canada, J and I have been purchasing almost of our weekly produce at the Farmers Market and we’ve been cooking up a storm. I want to make time to cook nutritious, delicious food every week.

…to run a race!

I’m currently signed for the US Half Marathon in San Francisco in November, so that should take care of that goal! Remember last year’s half marathon that wasn’t ? This year I’m hoping the US Half will be for me!

…to be more flexible about making plans, and to appreciate unstructured time.

I am usually a very rigid, punctual person with my social plans. If I make plans, I keep them–and I always arrive early! I really like making plans, and I tend to feel a bit nervous and anxious when things don’t go completely as planned. I want to continue to be dependable and considerate, but I also hope to become more flexible and understanding when things don’t go exactly as planned.

…to work hard, be kind, and continue to be the best me possible!

Those are just some of my “big picture” hopes and goals for the coming months. I will be checking back in soon to see how I’m doing, and I also hope to take some time to make additional “daily life” hopes and goals.

Here’s to hoping for a wonderful, happy, exciting year!

What are some of your “big picture” hopes and goals?

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