August has always been a unique experience as an active participant in our house while raising three children, with my wife’s work and her passion being in her “happy place” – her classroom. August for us, when our kids were growing up, was much the same as yours I assume, with a few key differences along the way.
Remember when school shopping for just the right outfit(s) was a thing, or is it just me? Remember when getting a new pair of shoes just occurred in August at back to school time? I certainly remember as a kid, new shoe shopping was a thing, sometimes just an annual thing. In the house where we raised our kids, it seemed shoe shopping was a perpetual, not annual, occurrence. Soccer shoes, football cleats, dance shoes, flip flops to sandals, and everything in between. Shoe shopping nowadays seems like a sport, not an annual activity that I remember it being… or is it just me? And since when did kids stop “testing the speed of their shoes” on the sidewalk or parking lot just after purchase? Wearing them out of the store allowed for just that real time, right now activity that was required – at least for many boys it was – or was it just me? Finding out who your teacher was going to be, who was going to be in your class, going to the meet the teacher nights, finding your locker and roaming the halls of the big scary high school, are all things I can vividly remember!
While a couple of our kids are into the college years, the shoe shopping has slowed down a bit, but the energy around August is still palpable in our house. My wife has been teaching for 21 years. It seems that every August is like this – high energy, high anxiety, high stress, and extreme joy! All those emotions sometimes hit her and our home daily during this month. I heard a quote recently and it embodied my wife – “teaching is not what she does, it is who she is!”. This August for her, and for many professional educators, is different. This August is heavy. I am certain the weight of this month is greater not only for teachers, but also for administrators and board of education members. You do not have to be a teacher to feel this or be married to a teacher to feel this. You do not need to have kids actively in school this year to feel this. I believe the weight of the start of school this year is felt by nearly all of us.
What is the right answer for this year? I hope you have not read this far assuming I would have one. But here is what I do know. I do not claim to be as smart as or passionate as many of the educators I have met over the years. I know that many of them share the same title of “It is just who they are” like my wife. In a business setting we call it “soft skills” – inside the vernacular of schools – we call it “character education”. At the association, we are hiring for new talent to support our mission. When hiring, I have always put a lot of weight into character of the candidate.
What characteristics could we all use in this heavy month of August? As a husband and a man, I tend to lead toward attempting to fix or provide a solution. When in fact, my role as a husband of a teacher, and our role as supporters of public education, is to focus on “character education”:
- Give love and understanding
- Give grace
- Give compassion
- Give kindness
There may not be a “fix” to the weight of this August – I encourage everyone to simply SHOW UP FOR EACH OTHER and focus on character education! We are all in this together!
In closing, I know that Dr. Heim’s readership on his blog “I’m from Kansas” is far higher than mine. He reminds me of this daily. If you have not read his most recent blog, it provides a wonderful story around a similar topic. Ironically, he and I were discussing this topic a week or so ago and his blog came out mirroring mine in content. I will not accuse him of “borrowing” my idea, that would not be showing grace on my end, right?