The first day of school is full of mixed emotions for me (which I would assume is the same for 99.9999% of teachers). I’ve actually never been at a school for more than a year, and so I always am the “new” teacher. This means meeting new coworkers, getting the lay of the land and double checking my new school rules – all within the week before the first day.
In the week before school starts I’ve been either; moving across the world or moving into a classroom I’ve never seen. My poor mother’s garage is ceremoniously emptied at the beginning of September and inevitably filled in June. I’d like to say that I handle this with grace and poise – but that is absolutely not true. Stress dreams, research and worry keep me up at night as I try to control variables that I don’t even know about, or try to get a handle on curriculum I’ve never taught. I am my worst, controlling self right before the first day.
That being said, on the first day, right when my new kids come in, I relax. I can almost feel the knots in my shoulders untwist as I realize (yes, every year, for 6 years, I’ve needed a reminder) that it’ll be great. We never get through even half the stuff I have planned, my kids are as excited and nervous as I am and we will figure out the rest together.
In six years of teaching I have only been had my own classroom on the official first day of school twice. In Ontario right now the seniority hiring rules in place meant that I wasn’t eligible for jobs beginning in September and jumped into established classes as the year progressed. My first, first day of school as a teacher I was working overseas and had been working with my colleagues for almost a month. I had a lead teacher whose advice I could follow and excitement was pretty much all I felt walking into day one. Last year was not like that. Last year I didn’t know where or what grade I would be teaching until the week before school started. I spent the last week of summer in a work coma. I worked for hours on a seating arrangement only to walk into the classroom and discover the only arrangement that could possibly work with 30 desks was rows. I blacked out in staples and don’t even want to think about how much I spent (why are chalkboard markers SO expensive?!).
The prep was crazy and labour intensive. I was panicked and jittery. I’m sure my husband wanted to murder me. Then the kids walked in and everything was fine. It’s always fine. Even when your class is full of loonies who seem to want nothing more than to drive you into an early grave, you handle it and it’s fine. That’s what teachers do. We take what other people run from as far and fast as they can and we make it fine, sometimes even great.
Happy first day of school!