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What Wondrous Possibilities Will You Uncover From the Kids in Your Community?

The first days of the school year are a magical moment—full of boundless possibility—for both teachers and students. 

Male teacher greeting middle school students with a fist bump as they walk into class.

By Carla Chambers

August 13, 2019

As a little girl, I couldn’t wait to go back to school. Each year I would image what new book my teacher would read that would open my eyes to another place I’d dream of traveling to. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, my escape from poverty was school. It was the one place I was free to think and explore worlds that only existed in books. Going back to school is where I would see my friends again, meet new ones, and heck, maybe even fall in love like Romeo and Juliet. 

I can still hear my granny's melodic words permeating through my every thought. She'd say, “Education is the key to your freedom." These were the inspirational words that pressured me to excel in school and break down the barriers that consistently prevented my cousins and peers from graduating. These were also the words that led to me becoming a teacher and leading a middle school for more than 20 years. 

My back-to-school moments became my lifetime career. For me, it started with planning the first days of school. Like thousands of teachers across the country, I spent days and—let’s be honest—hundreds of dollars preparing classrooms and lessons for the perfect first days of school. It’s crucial that teachers are purposeful in our planning because these are the moments when students dream of wondrous possibilities. 

“Even if you’ve been teaching for 10+ years, you never stop thinking about how to create the perfect first days of school moments.”

Carla Chambers

Senior Managing Director of Teacher Leadership Development, Teach For America Houston

The first days of school always bring flutters of butterflies in a teacher’s belly. We can’t sleep the night before because our minds are swirling with all the hopes and excitement that come with meeting our kiddos for the first day. Will they like us? Are they ready to dive into this new year with curiosity and a thirst for learning? Have I designed the best lessons that will allow students to think and act boldly? Will my students thrive under my leadership?  

School’s in Session—Let’s Begin

Even if you’ve been teaching for 10+ years, you never stop thinking about how to create the perfect first days of school moments. 

For new teachers, like our corps members, this moment is even more special. You will uncover talent you never knew you had. You will elevate voices that seem muted by policies you once thought were designing an equitable system of learning for all kids. You will question if you are the best person to teach kids. The answer should be a resounding yes. Use your leadership skills to sharpen your decision-making skills, design bold visions, build enduring bonds with students and families from diverse backgrounds, drive innovation and change with a stronger grasp of the problem, and co-create a new school system alongside your peers, students, families, and the community.

Let your leadership be effortlessly effective, beautifully imperfect, and elegant with the understated excellence that illuminates mesmerizing miracles and wondrous possibilities for all kids to manifest their wildest dreams. 

Carla Chambers is the senior managing director of Teacher Leadership Development at Teach For America Houston. Carla started her educational journey over 21 years ago in her hometown of Los Angeles, California, where she served in varying capacities as a K-12 teacher and school administrator. She joined the Houston team in 2018 and currently co-leads our Teacher Leadership Development Team. She manages a team of 10 dynamic leaders to catalyze an ambitious vision and programming for the leadership development of over 100 new teachers. She graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in Ethnic Studies and from Pepperdine University with an MA in Education. You can find her traveling with her son or in hot pilates class.