September stands for school in most parts of this country. Books, backpacks, pencils, computers, etc. As teachers, administrators, students, and parents get ready, I have two words for you - Mutual Respect. If you give it to each other, no matter how old or young, what position you hold in the educational process, no matter what your relationship is: parent/child; teacher/administrator; parent/teacher; teacher/teacher; child/teacher; child/child; administrator/administrator; etc., you get the point - you can start from a position where things can only get better, if you keep these two words in mind. As a retired NYC teacher, current substitute in two local districts, and teaching artist, I always end my classroom day with the phrase, "Be kind to one another." I surely don't know it all and I don't profess to have all the answers, but I do know, speaking for myself, that in the classroom (or out), these starting and ending points, if I consider and recall them during my day, allow me to remember that we have one thing in common, and that is our humanity.
We don't see much of this concept of humanity anymore in the media, where commercials, situation comedies, comedic movie themes based on vile and crass premises, and reality shows, equate insults, mockery, and trickery with laugh tracks and what the characters see (and tell us) is funny.
And influenced by all this - what was something we used to cringe about has now become something to laugh at - you may (or may not) have your momentary doubts about this thing called humanity this when you hear how another (or yourself!) speaks, acts, and reacts, at times, but that in itself is a teaching moment. With all the pressure of state mandates, self-imposed standards, life outside of the classroom, the role of teacher beyond teaching that includes, at times, secretary, negotiator, psychologist, police, protector; with pressure kids face from spheres, near and far, beyond their control; with the business of education and realities of what we have and don't have to work with; with parents worrying about bills and beyond, keeping this in mind is a challenge, but one, I believe, we must all rise to, not just tomorrow when many school doors open to a new year, but everyday.
Are we perfect? No. Can we do better, Yes? Are their injustices in the world and shall we rise up against them? Absolutely. Respect without the mutual part, often has to do with fear and the influence (and sometimes the corruption, as we have seen in the recent news) of power. This mutual respect is road to kindness is a challenge for all of us, yet certainly, a necessity, I feel, for survival. Be kind to one another.