During a recent conversation about the start of the school year, a friend of mine told me how much she loved the fact that each new school year gives us an opportunity to “wipe the slate clean” and “start over.”
In previous years, my back-to-school newsletters have expressed my overwhelming enthusiasm for the start of each new school year. There is always an excitement at the sense of hope and optimism each new school year brings, and I look forward to this wonderful feeling.
“Wiping the slate clean” is a different way of thinking about the start of a new school year, and after looking up the origin of this idiom, it is easy to see why my friend chose this sentiment to refer to the start of the school year. Originally, the phrase referred to the early slate boards on which school work was recorded in easy-to-wipe-off chalk. Since 1850, however, it has been used figuratively to mean a “fresh start” or “another chance.”
As educators, we have the opportunity to “start over” each year as we learn from previous years—whether this is from assessment data, feedback from students and parents, or the result of new learning.
Your children also have an opportunity to “wipe the slate clean” and “start over” as they walk through the doors of Northeast on the first day of school. They will have new teachers, new curriculum, new expectations, new backpacks and notebooks, and possibly some new friends. Their previous school year is behind them. No matter what they experienced last year, this is a new year!
Before I close this first letter of the year to you, I want you to think back to the origin of the phrase “wiping the slate clean.” The slate boards that students used in the early classrooms may have been easy to clean, but the frame remained solid as it held the slate in place. As educators, we believe this frame represents the understandings and knowledge we have about what is best for middle school learners. This knowledge and our mission will “frame” our work with your children.
Let’s have a wonderful school year!
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