I turn 40 this August. And my youngest boys enter kindergarten. I have had 36 years of first days of school – I don’t remember all of them.
But I remember that first year of teaching in a new school, in a new state. I had no idea what would happen. The whole year was about finding my feet and learning to walk as an educator instead of a student.
I expect this year will be a bit like that for all of us – whether we’ve been in education our whole lives or are just starting out or are somewhere in between.
I have no idea what is going to happen day to day this Fall, and I suspect none of us really do. The truth is, I’m learning, you can’t ACTUALLY plan for everything – that’s super hard for my personality type to accept, by the way.
Like that first year of teaching though, I have expectations. I expect to be a little nervous. I expect the Fall to be crazy and feel a bit like a new school in a new state – even though it’s neither. I do expect that we will have moments where we find our feet and settle into routine and moments where we stumble when the routine suddenly changes or alters once again… even if just a little.
I expect there will be moments of anxiety and stress. I expect we will miss greeting each other with hugs or high fives or handshakes after so long apart. I expect that air-hugs might lose the joviality after a time.
I expect that we will get used to masks. They will become a part of our every day grab your backpack, grab your keys, grab your mask routine…
If I am really honest though, I also expect to have a great year. This is the start of my 19th year in education, and every year, even the years that included unspeakable tragedy, has been a year that renews the love I have for the vocation God has given me.
And this one will too.
My prayer this morning as I sit having these unexpected deep thoughts about the upcoming school year (probably brought on by this image of my son in his mask) is that we are graced with the knowledge that God IS at work. That we know deep in our hearts there WILL BE tremendous beauty in this year.
There always is, especially in the hardest ones.
So may we enter it with hope.