What’s Your Story?: Staying Passionate in the New Year

Lao Tzu QuoteBy Sabrina Bartels – Picture this: a high school auditorium filled with teachers and educators, listening raptly to a group of middle and high school students playing a Lady Gaga mix on their string instruments.

Half of the adults in the room are wearing matching T-shirts to show their school pride; the other half is dressed in summer shirts and flip flops. People are comparing tans and how they are doing with leaving their babies for the first time. There is a buzz in the air. You can almost taste the anticipation, the excitement, the nervousness in the room.

We are ready for our students. We are nervous about how the first day will go. We are lesson planning and organizing seating charts and learning all we can before we open our doors and hearts to the students entering the building on September 1st.

Every year, it is like this. We start off fresh and excited, with visions of how we can change the world. We may walk through the halls humming the tunes that the orchestra students played. We all talk and laugh and reminisce.

And then it changes.

You can’t pinpoint exactly when things change, but they do. Our chats become less about summer and our personal lives, and more about the students in our charges. Our school spirit ebbs a little, as we struggle through the every day challenges we encounter. We go from being enthusiastic and bright-eyed to somewhat sleep-deprived. It almost makes you wonder where those energetic, excited people from the first day are.

It’s sad in a way. It really is. I think somewhere down the line, we lose a little bit of our passion and excitement. We get weighed down by everything around us. By December, we forget what made us excited in August.

Our new superintendent gave an empowering speech at the beginning of this year. He asked us to think about what “our story” is, what made us passionate about teaching. He asked for us to recall what it was that made us realize that education was the right path for us. I really enjoyed hearing all of the stories my coworkers had to offer. There were teachers who knew from the beginning they wanted to be a teacher; there were teachers who pursued a completely different career before becoming an educator. All of the stories were magical to hear.

More than anything, thinking about “my story” reminded me of my enthusiasm for being a counselor. I joined counseling because I wanted my middle school students to know that someone in this world believes in them. I wanted them to know that not everyone believes in that negative stereotype that seems to follow teens and tweens.

As we start this new school year, I encourage all of you to think about “your story” and revisit it often, especially during that inevitable mid-year slump. You are part of an amazingly special group who believes in education. You make a difference! Thank you for all you do!

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