I already have my homework folders purchased from Staples - red, 3-hole bracketed, durable plastic pocket folders which I had to purchase in two transactions to get the 35 cents per folder price (limit was 30 and I needed 50.) I picked up a few new items for classroom decor on sale at Hobby Lobby, too. Yesterday, it was a trip to Teacher's Tools to select new bulletin board borders and today, it was Target to use the 15% off incentive for teachers. I purchased highlighters, Super Sticky Post-it Notes, Flair pens, and Expo-markers. A stop at JoAnn's Fabrics to purchase some fabric to back my bulletin boards, and I'm pretty set.
At this point in my teaching career, that's more than I need to get started. In my position as a dyslexia therapist, I don't need students to bring in supplies, and since I have enough pencils to last a few years, my only real need is a homework folder refresh. Well, maybe a stockpile of Kleenex... The rest is all simply due to my obsession with NEW school supplies and what they signify - a fresh start.
We all need a fresh start, right? It's a chance to begin with a clean slate - with crisp white paper, pointy pencils, brand new crayons, and a sweet new backpack. That, and a new pair of shoes for the first day of school, and any kid can walk through the doors feeling confident and ready to learn.
For a lot of kids, a new school year is just that - a new pair of shoes and a cool backpack. They breeze into Meet-the-Teacher night to see the new classroom and find out who's in their class and if they'll have PE or Music on the first day for specials. For others, it's a refresh of another sort.
For them, it can bring up anxiety, apprehension, and dread. Will this teacher point out my faults, my weaknesses, and my insecurities and embarrass me in front of everyone? Will I be able to hide that I can't read, spell, or multiply, like other students? How long before I start losing recess to finish classwork in "study hall?" Will my new teacher think I'm dumb?
My students, my kids with dyslexia, often feel like this...anxious, apprehensive. They are longing for a genuine welcome, and a true fresh start. They are hungry for the chance to show what they can do - a chance to thrive in a classroom where accommodations to support their different learning needs are the norm and not the exception. They are searching your eyes to see if you will be the one to appreciate a quirky sense of humor, a quick wit, out of the box/creative thinking, and if you will encourage their innovative problem solving skills. Will this new teacher give me a fresh start?
Will you? Will you look beyond the struggles and see the strengths and gifts of each student that enters your room this new school year? Will you invest yourself to nurture each student - even those that need a little more? Will you provide the necessary accommodations - reading questions and answers aloud, providing extra time, not using recess as a penalty for incomplete work - without making students feel like you are doing a huge favor or that it's an imposition? Will you be their champion - their advocate - their inspiration?
A new school year with brand new school supplies is but weeks away and it offers us all a fresh start - a new beginning. As I'm putting up the new border on my new bulletin board and preparing my classroom to welcome my students, I'm recommitting myself - and my heart - to giving each sweet face the reassurance that this year, this class, and this teacher, WILL be the difference they need for the best year, yet.