It means a blank slate, a chance to try new methods, to work with new people, to reach new goals. It also means having to rebuild your protocols, your reputation, your curriculum, your timeline, your relationships, your comfort zone.
All the excitement and anxiety of starting a brand new job--This hits me every fall as I step back into my familiar yet unpredictable classroom. I remember the kids that reached their goals and the kids that inspired me the year before, and I sigh a little because I wish I didn't have to change students again this year. And I remember the kids who didn't reach their goals and those who wore me down, and I wonder, "what if this year's even harder?" I wonder what goals my students will actually reach this year, if we will go deeper or farther than my classes had before, or if this will be the year we don't really succeed. I connect the targets, strategies, philosophies, and materials that could help guide us through the next year together. I prepare a far too detailed pacing schedule that will be moved around and eventually smudged out when students start showing that they need different timing, instruction, or practice. I try recalling the pep talks I've given throughout the years, so that I can create a talk that will help start their year off right.
But after 11 years of this autumnal game of anticipation and reflection, I've realized there's one thing I'd never considered. What goals will guide ME this year? Not the me in my classroom, not in my coaching circle, not in my professional development, just ME. When a friend and department leader asked me this question yesterday, I was clueless. I've always set goals for what I should learn and attempt as I try to help my students reach their goals, but I have never really set goals for what I want to accomplish away from my students.
Sure, I have set little goals for myself, like the semester where I told myself I would be home and done grading every day by 5 PM. (And every teacher knows that goal won't even last until second semester.) But that's not really a goal to make me personally happy anyway.
So what do I really want for myself? I've struggled a lot with maintaining a sense of peace in 2014, so I think that needs to be my priority in 2015. But how to accomplish it? I'm still working on that part. As always, if any of my friends out there have suggestions or invitations that could help, I'd love to hear them.