freshly sharpened pencils

One of my favorite movies is a fun romantic comedy called “You’ve Got Mail.” It is chock full of quotables but “I would send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils, if I knew your name and address.”, is one of my favorites. The start of school is such a wonderful and frenetic time. We scurry to prepare backpacks, uniforms, schedules, and permission forms as we start to renew morning routines and get back into the swing of school. We look with anticipation of the first day wondering who we will sit with at lunch and will the teachers be fair, funny, or firm? (Hopefully all three!) It is a fantastic time of year.

As I start my 14th school year, this time as an administrator, I still feel all of those anticipatory things. I love getting back together with teachers and setting our goals for the year. I love seeing students with new shoes on and a look on their face that says, “I’m not sure how I feel about this yet, but I’m excited.” I love seeing the wide eyes of a 5th grader walking into the Middle School for the first time and the sleepy eyes of an 8th grader for whom this is old hat. It signals that it is time for us to begin anew.

While we have traded freshly sharpened pencils for iPads and styli, paper books for e-books, and the monthly newsletter for the monthly email, the start of school continues a timeless rite of passage for children. We “do school” differently than in ages past. School becomes a place to learn so much more than facts and figures. Our schooling now includes lessons on how to learn so much more than what to learn. We realize, in the 21st Century, that much of what we may have been taught in school is accessible at our fingertips from the device in our pocket. So we, the teachers, have a great opportunity to learn for ourselves how we can innovate our classrooms to reach the kids we have now and prepare them for their future. This process of renewing our professional practice is a model for our children on how to continually grow throughout a lifetime.

So we begin our year with great excitement and anticipation as we begin to map our 2015-2016 journey. Perhaps a nice, fresh, Dixon-Ticonderoga #2 will find it’s way into a backpack somewhere. To remind us from where we have come.

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