Message from MSA President Henry G. Cram, Ed.D
Beginning a new school year is often viewed as a fresh start. It is often considered an opportunity for students, teachers, parents and even school administrators to close the book on the prior year and set new goals for the year to come.
But viewing a new school year as a chance to start over or as a clean slate misses the potential for meaningful growth based on lessons learned from prior failures and successes.
Rather than a fresh start, each new school year should be considered an opportunity to reinforce what we are doing well and to avoid making the same mistakes we have made in the past.
When I was a superintendent, and even now as president of the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools, my goal for each successive year is to discover ways to improve what we are doing by asking the question: “What can we do better?”
Whether from a student’s perspective or the perspective of parent a teacher or a school leader, improving each new school year is a developmental process. It is not so much a fresh start as it is an invitation to do better. It is a time to build on what we have learned, to measure where we are, and to modify the course toward where we want to be. Meaningful educational goals cannot be reached with a succession of one-year plans that ignore the past, the changing conditions of the present or the constantly evolving future.
The major obstacles to continuous school improvement are our addiction to beginning again, our proclivity to jump on the latest trend and our belief in silver bullet solutions. These tendencies frustrate and discourage teachers, confuse our students and hinder their performance, and erode the school community’s confidence in our profession.
Let’s make this “new” school year the one in which we reflect on where we have been, commit to enhancing the great things we are doing, and change the things that are holding us back.
A new school year is not only a time to look forward but also a chance to reflect on the past and gauge our progress toward where we need to be.
Here’s to a better school year and not just another new one.
Henry G. Cram, Ed.D