Sunday, August 2, 2009

first day jitters...

There is nothing quite like the day the new year starts. Looking back, I'm not sure I was as nervous the day before I started middle school, or high school, as I am every year before starting a school year. After meeting the children on Friday they swim in your mind over the weekend, drifting in and out- the new characters who are about to consume your life for the next year.

Will they enter the room quietly, looking around, wide eyed and nervous? Or will they rush in as though they own the place, pulling supplies off the shelves? Will we have tears? Nervous moms? Will we make it to lunch? Lunch on time? Will we get all the students in from the playground?

The first day of my very first year teaching I had everything set up- and then completely forgot where I put it. My new students stared at me as I fumbled around, looking in the room for the calendar pieces, name tags, etc. I didn't find them until the end of the day.

Actually, I think that was my most uneventful first day of my career.

My last year in the classroom my smart cookie sat at her table chatting away. I gave the perfect responsive classroom prompt to raise her hand- teaching the class before the official school day had even started how we'll raise our hands in our classroom. As we 'practiced' hand raising my smart cookie shouted out "yeah, my kindergarten teacher was always sayin that. I never did it though".

Last year we (four of us- two aids, a classroom teacher, and me, the special education teacher) walked our class of new kindergartners down the hallway as though we were herding cats. The little ones who had never been in school before had no idea why we'd put them in a line- nor did they know the word "line" in their language. There were so many fancy colors on the walls, so much to look at, that they ran circles around us before we could even get to the classroom. At one point I explained to a student (who would soon be known as the recess queen) that we don't talk in the hallways and he shouted very loudly "WHY NOT?"

One year I had a kiddo throw his legs and arms into the door frame like a spider, blocking his way into the classroom as his mother tried to push him through, yelling in Spanish, while he screamed. That was only my second year of teaching.

Then there was my third year of teaching, when one of my little girls, who would later be known as the love of my life, went into the bathroom and screamed for 45 minutes. The other children in the class, bless them, were pretty much convinced that if they too entered the bathroom they would meet a similar fate. We had bathroom accidents a lot that year.

That same day I brought everyone back from lunch only to realize we'd left one little girl in the cafateria. I already felt horrible, but that little six year old wrote me a long, long letter about how awful it was that I forgot her. I was so excited by the literacy, but so ashamed I'd forgotten to count heads.

It hasn't been all bad- at least, I don't think it has. First days are always such a blur of excitment, nervousness, tears, timid smiles, and hugs. I never get much sleep the night before, but I know I'll catch up when I crawl into bed around 7pm when it is all over...

1 comment:

The Science Goddess said...

First Days are easier at secondary, because teachers like you have boldly laid the groundwork; however, I do recall a variety of small dramas at the elementary I worked at a couple of years ago. It drew from a very poor population (85% F/R Lunch) and it was not unusual to get "feral" kinders who had never been outside their home and had no sense of how to interact with others. I think my favourite story, however, was the kinder who responded with "F*** you, B****" when his teacher asked the class to line up for lunch. Apparently, not all of them arrived tabula rasa. :)