And Another School Year Begins…

Tomorrow marks the start of the next school year– my second year of teaching. Though I would not want to repeat my first year, I am a bit envious of my one-year-ago self. She was about to embark on the most inspiring an powerful journey, during which she would meet students and families who would touch her heart forever.

This year, I hope to be just as moved and fulfilled as I felt last year, but hopefully with fewer challenges. It would be impossible to describe my first year of teaching in just one blog post, but I will attempt to sum it up in a list of some of the lessons I learned…

  1. Quit Taking It Personally (or Q-Tip, as my colleague likes to say).
    Students may not always act like angels. They may misbehave– hitting, shouting, or saying hurtful things. This is almost always due to a combination of factors over which you have no control– home life, conflict with a friend, a failed test in a previous class, etc. Always respond with love, and understand that as the adult, it is your responsibility to remain calm and teach appropriate coping strategies.
  2. Parents are your partners.
    You want the best for the children you serve. So do their parents. And the thing is… They typically know their children better than you do. When you are unsure of how to proceed when a challenge arises, call the student’s guardian for advice. When you have a breakthrough and see a student overcome an obstacle, call his/her parent to celebrate together. You are a team in supporting this kiddo!
  3. Teaching self-advocacy is key.
    As our students grow up, they need to learn to be independent. This does not always mean that they should be able to do anything without help, but it does mean that they should learn to ask for the help they need. One of my proudest moments last year was seeing my student, who was struggling with an assignment involving multiplication, raise his hand and ask for a multiplication table. He knew what he needed in order to be successful, and he was not afraid to ask for it.
  4. Always make time to listen. 
    We have a lot of pressures on us, as educators. It’s easy to bury our noses in our laptops, essays to grade, and lesson plans, forgetting the little humans for whom we do it all. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate those little humans– they are sweet, hilarious, and, ultimately, the reason why you do what you do. And you have no idea how much impact you can have on their days just by flashing a smile and listening when they need to talk.
    Which brings me to my last point…
  5. This lesson is actually a quote I heard recently, which I think is especially relevant in the teaching profession…
    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

Have a wonderful school year– I know I will!

–Written by Elise Hopkins, Blog Writer/Editor and Special Educator

Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at

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