Today I am thinking of the students who are stepping foot into a brand new building without a single familiar face and the ones who are finally reuniting with their friends after summer! I am thinking about the novice, inexperienced, don’t-know-what-you’ve-gotten-yourself-into teacher and the veteran who has seen it all and wonders if she has another year in her. I am thinking about that mom who is holding the hand of her first child about to watch them walk off into kindergarten and the parent who just watched their baby drive off to start their senior year of high school. For every person, the first day of school means something different.
For the parent, back to school means back to routine. Those peaceful summer nights turn into youtubing 7th grade math concepts, wondering why it feels like you’re the one in middle school. Slow mornings become waking up early to pack healthy lunches with special notes handwritten on a napkin. Afternoons are spent waiting anxiously at carline to hear everything they have to say about their day (and if they’re in middle school, checking their snapchat to piece together any bits of information you can find.) But most importantly, finding yourself praying fervently that your child will be kind and brave.
For the student, it is a clean slate. A brand new start. A fresh set of supplies and an organized locker. The chance to make new friends and try out for the team! It means never ending homework that causes you to question if you will ever really need to know this stuff in real life. It is another year of cherished memories and learning more and more about yourself.
For the teacher, it is every little name tag carefully written and placed perfectly on individual desks. It is back to meetings,returning emails, making phone calls, entering grades and perfecting lesson plans. It is a whole new set of students who will make you wonder how you got talked into this gig. It is finding little notes left mysteriously on your desk claiming, “You’re the best teacher I’ve ever had,” and a bonus if they spelled “You’re” correctly.
Thinking about the first day of school reminds me of a day I will never forget. It was my first day of school as a brand new teacher. I was so nervous and could not believe that I was the adult in charge of all these unfamiliar faces. As I began to take role slowly calling out the name of each student on my list, (I should have practiced the names beforehand) I noticed one particular name that intimidated me. Because there was no other option, I just stated the name the best way I knew how and I immediately knew I didn’t say it right. I looked up from my paper to see surprised faces starting to giggle, then the giggling turned into falling out of their chair hysterically laughing. You see, when I tried to pronounce this name, it sounded a lot like a curse word.That was the first time I ever lost control of my classroom and certainly not my last. I soon realized that I might be in over my head.
In the seven years I was a teacher, my students taught me way more than I could ever teach them and that is something I really valued.
So no matter the position you find yourself in on this “first day of school,” know your role is important and the work you’re doing is appreciated! The hard days will not last forever and school years always seem to fly by. Enjoy the moments because it all goes by way too fast.