Sunday 9 September 2012

A Time for Renewed Optimism

It'll come as no surprise to any of you who have read any of my previous posts or caught up with me on twitter that I love the optimism of the start of a new academic year.

It's a time to welcome back colleagues somewhat freshened from their summer sojourns.

It's a time to welcome back students who have somehow managed to mutate into their new status (that strange, almost imperceptible difference in aspect and demeanour between late-Y8 and early-Y9).

It's a time to see the freshly scrubbed faces and starchily-crisped uniforms of the new Y7s (even the hand-me-down brigade wear theirs with a barrel-chested pride borne out of knowing that they are literally stepping into the shoes of their hopefully illustrious sibling).

It's also a time when blank pages in planners and exercise books offer us - teachers and students alike - the tantalising glimpse of a pristine future free from all the mistakes we made in the previous year (I've sometimes thought it would be good to issue fresh planners and exercise books termly rather than annually, but it just 'wouldn't be the same' would it?).

It's a time when the prospect of new groups of students coming into our classrooms is almost thrilling: which of them might we inspire; which of the 'known' students are going to turn over a new leaf; which of them are going to challenge us, and how are we going to meet that challenge head on.

It's a time when stunning results from Herculean efforts the previous year are fully absorbed in order that we may use them as mere springboards to ever greater achievements. Or alternatively otherwise stunning results from Quixotic efforts the previous year are wiped clean from our heavy hearts and burdened brains as we begin moving virtual mountains again with the forbearance of Sisyphus.

And I know that for the more cynically-minded of you out there it's also a time of optimism: The optimism that yet another year is going to pass during which you are going to make all manner of doomful predictions about how management are going to mess things up which are going to be proven right. Pessimism is just an extreme example of optimism in many ways, with most cynics I know caring that bit more about the lives and hopes of students than many of their more optimistic peers.

And finally, on a school-specific level, the start of the new academic year 2012-13 is also a time when the massively strong foundations of curriculum change, focused leadership at all levels and exam success can be built upon; when we can fashion a uniquely special edifice constructed from the bricks of wonderful teaching and the mortar of interdependent learning. It's a time for all of us to tweak our classroom practice in much the same way as an osteopath tweaks a nerve here and there, to help align the intentions of our classrooms and the actual outcomes.

So a Happy New Year to all of you. I wish you all the best with your New Year's resolutions. Let's see once more whether we can do much more, educationally speaking, than go to the gym a few times in January.

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