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  • D. Barkes

What are you Cultivating?



There are a few things in life that are inevitable. Most of us would immediately think of death and taxes. However, there is also a positive "inevitable" that happens every year...a new school year. New school years are filled with hope and excitement. As a student, I would lay my new clothes out the night before, lace up my new shoes, and go to bed excited for what the new school year would bring. Truth be told, I do the same thing as a teacher. I get excited about pre-planning. I get excited to see the teachers I am blessed to work with, and I get excited thinking about the new students I will have the opportunity to impact in a positive way.


This school year, with the challenges we face with Covid-19, seems to be lacking many of these elements of hope and excitement. Usually, at this time of year, my twitter page is filled with people discussing their plans for decorating their classroom, teachers sharing resources and helping one another get ready for the year, and school districts posting welcome back messages to their teachers. This year, my feed is filled with complaints about going back online, complaints about going back in person, complaints about wearing masks, complaints about not wearing masks...you get the picture. For the first time since I became a teacher, the focus does not seem to be on the students.


Regardless of how we feel about returning to school or teaching online, the students are returning. They will be in our classroom and on the other end of a computer. They will have strengths, weaknesses, and shortcomings. They will make us laugh, they will frustrate us, and they will bring us immense joy. They are returning and they need you. They need your passion for teaching. They need your leadership, and they need your love. Our students are excited to return to school. They are going to be laying out their clothes and lacing up their new shoes. It is time we turn our focus away from the things that we can't control and focus on the things we can. We can focus on bringing hope to our students and our colleagues for a new year, and we can bring excitement for the start of a new school year!


How do we do this? Simply put, we must focus on relationships. This summer, I started listening to a Podcast series called Hope Through History, and in the first episode there is a quote from President Roosevelt. The quote comes from a speech FDR was to deliver on the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. In it, FDR would have said:

Today science has brought all the different quarters of the globe so close together that it is impossible to isolate them one from another. Today, we are faced with the preeminent fact that if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships. The ability of all peoples of all kinds to live together and work together in the same world at peace. The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith

This message applies just as much to the 1940s as it does to 2020. This message has stayed with me all summer, and one line in particular jumps out at me..."We must cultivate the science of human relationships". This school year, focus on cultivating relationships with your colleagues and with your students. Let them know that they matter, that what we do as teachers matters, and that things are going to get better. Cultivate relationships in your school and cultivate hope.


Our students are preparing for a new school year. Let's start preparing for their arrival by focusing on the things that are within our control. Let's get the excitement of a new school year going. Let's drown out the negativity about the upcoming school year on Twitter with a message of hope and excitement. Join me by sharing your excitement and hope for the upcoming school year by using the #CultivateHope on Twitter. Tag me @teachandcoachga and I will share it as well.


As always, thank you for taking a few minutes to read this post. I look forward to reading what you share on Twitter and Cultivating Hope for the upcoming school year. It is going to be an awesome year! Need help preparing for the year? Check out some of my other posts focused on educational technology tools and tips for teaching online at teachandcoachga.com.


Have a great day!

D. Barkes



Cumming, GA 30028

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