I had an enjoyable first day of school last week, and I’m excited to dig into my first full week tomorrow. For homework, I gave students an online survey about who they are as individuals and learners. We will use some of their results, viewed as pie chart “data” about the class as springboards for discussions tomorrow.

As I read their responses, I am struck by how positive my students report feeling about the year ahead of them—how ready they are to enjoy school, work hard, and learn. I am reminded of what a hopeful time September is for both teachers and students. Even students who are scared of failure and reluctant to take risks are feeling partly hopeful. Changing by the moment, my adolescent students are just a thread away from their new selves and will continue to be throughout the year.

We have so much power as teachers. Students make themselves vulnerable to us, until we give them reason to believe they should not. Even students with hard shells test us regularly to see if we will encourage or threaten their growth. I want to keep this delicate reality front and center as I interact with my students and get to know them. I will remember it when I am faced with an opportunity to make a comment that will encourage their hopeful natures or threaten them.

Here’s to a great year, full of learning, humor, hard lessons when necessary, and compassion.

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