“What did you do over the summer?”
When I was in elementary school, it was a ritual on the first day of classes for the teacher to ask what everyone had done over the summer. The answers were predictable: vacations, visits to relatives, camp attendance, and team participation. While a bit of listening to music, reading, or relaxing at a pool were thrown into the equation, summers were generally defined by activity (by “doing”). We learned many life lessons (a mixed bag) through our interactions with others outside the formal structures of school. We grew.
If the question is still asked today (and I suspect that it is), the answers might be very similar. There would likely be more time spent mastering new video games or focusing on social media. But there would still be growth. Schools are change agents; they guide learning. But summers are when un-guided learning happens. Your students are transforming constantly. As they arrive at your doors, they will both be and feel different than when they left last spring. Coincidentally, you will too.
That is the joy and the challenge of each new school year. Together, we reinvent ourselves.
Welcome once again to the future.