It’s a Brand-New Day!
How Will You Show It?
By NAfME Member Lori Schwartz Reichl
“It’s a brand new day. The sun is shining. It’s a brand new day. For the first time in such a long, long time I know I’ll be OK.” ~ Lyrics from Joshua Radin’s song “Brand New Day” from the 2008 album Simple Times
August marks the start of a new academic year and the third school year to be impacted by a global pandemic. We could wallow in this realization, or we could rejoice in the promise of hope, happiness, and humanity. Regardless, if you, or members of your family, participate in education in any capacity of teaching and learning, the conclusion of summer often feels like the end of one chapter and the start of the next in our journey of life. It’s a brand-new year, and we are equipped with the experience, skills, and wisdom to navigate it as empowered leaders, learners, and listeners. We have a chance to show this recognition each and every day to those we lead, learn from, and love. It’s a brand-new day! We will be OK, and we can show this response through knowledge, improvement, inspiration, and above all—gratitude.
From the east to the west coast, staff and students have begun to return to practice fields, rehearsal halls, classrooms, and buildings with some choosing to enroll in digital/virtual education centers or engaging in home school options. Many families have preferred to choose the care, education, and level of engagement in which they feel comfortable and most appropriate for their needs. Regardless of the format, by mid-September, our nation’s educators and students will be “back to school,” in whatever form that takes. With this return, our children, colleagues, and community deserve a renewed sense of optimism, dedication, and vitality.
The 2021–2022 school year still offers many uncertainties regarding such aspects as mask-wearing, social distancing, vaccinations, and restrictions. If we hadn’t believed it before, we now know that nothing is ever set in stone. Changes can occur at any time and most likely will continue to do so. But, what is different this time around at the onset of this school year? Is it acceptance? Tolerance? Confidence? Or an attitude of gratitude for what we were able to accomplish and create given such restrictions the last two years? Or, is it a feeling of dread and a sinking sense of “here we go again”? If so, then an opportunity to review the last two years through a positive and constructive lens may be needed before this new academic year unfolds.
Regardless of what role you are pursuing this academic year—student, educator, administrator, advocate, parent, or caregiver—how will you show your preparation, positivity, and persistence? Are you pursuing the same position, a new role, a different opportunity, a leave of absence, resignation, or retirement? The practice of reflection will allow an opportunity for Making Key Changes to the new year ahead. It will refresh your vision, your instruction, your program, and your collaborations.
Consider how you will demonstrate an Attitude of Gratitude as we embark on a new academic year. Reflect on the following four areas of development to ensure a brand-new day is at the forefront of your thoughts, rather than apprehension:
Knowledge: What did you learn?
What content did you learn? Did you focus your attention more on the artistic process rather than product and performance? How did this make you and others feel? Did you enroll in a course, degree program, or start or renew a hobby? What did you discover about yourself, your family, your students, and/or your colleagues? Make it a priority to assess this new knowledge and how it has impacted your learning and well-being along with that of others in your daily presence.
Improvement: What do you want to improve?
What do you want to refresh in your instruction, program, and/or career? Why are these improvements necessary? What will you keep, toss, or add from your daily life, classroom, or routine? Are you willing to focus on your strengths and limitations as you reassess them throughout the year? Make key changes that align with your new vision and beliefs.
Inspiration: Who or what has inspired you?
Where did you gain inspiration in these last two years? How can you continue to grow in that image or likeness? Will you continue to find inspiration from these same sources or will you search for additional sources of creativity and motivating forces for continual growth? Understand why this inspiration has been critical to your growth and how you can continue to evolve.
Gratitude: To whom or for what are you most thankful?
Who assisted, mentored, or guided you in the last two years? Have you thanked them for their help? Whom have you supported? Have you checked in with these people to ensure that they are still on an optimal path? Give credit to those who have supported you along the journey and continue to care for those who have connected with you.
We have seen dark days, and they have felt endless. Yet we have adapted, overcome, and in many cases, even succeeded. As this new academic year begins, think of it as a brand-new day. It’s a new way to show our awareness and appreciation for a year of promise, purpose, and passion for living, loving, and learning. The sun is shining, and our students, families, and colleagues need to see, feel, and reciprocate those rays of light with an attitude of gratitude while in our presence. It’s a brand-new day. Make sure to show it in every way!
About the author:
NAfME member Lori Schwartz Reichl is a champion of mentorship and motivation in education. Lori has parlayed her experience of establishing and maintaining music programs in various educational settings into a portfolio career of serving as an active adjudicator, clinician, conductor, instructor, speaker, and writer. Lori is the author of more than 70 articles and interviews for an assortment of education publications and the leader of countless professional development sessions designed to support K–12 educators and inspire students of all levels. She enjoys invitations for conducting, consulting, and speaking and is open to opportunities and collaborations. Learn more about Lori at MakingKeyChanges.com, and schedule a professional learning opportunity with her.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.
August 10, 2021. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)