Tuesday marked the beginning of my eighteenth year of teaching. While the school year is filled with a variety of excitement and wonder, the first day of school seems almost magical. Yet, having done the “first day” eighteen times, I’ve started to develop some observations about this special day of school. Some of these observations are more like advice while others are basically predictions.
1.No matter how many extra copies I think I’ve made I will inevitably be short by at least 1 copy. I might count them ahead of time. I may have made sure that I added together all of my students scheduled for 1st and 3rd period but nonetheless, I will be short on copies.
2.I have to retrain my stomach and my bladder. No longer do I have free reign of when I can eat nor when I can leave my room. Welcome to monitoring liquid intake over the next ten months.
3. The technology application I’ve practiced 10 times will not work or will crash when I need it. Naturally my lesson is based all around the use of this app. However, here’s the good news– because I’m a teacher, I know how to punt and create a workaround.
4. A senior who knows his/her way around our building (he/she’s been attending for years) will suddenly forget how to navigate the hallway and will be late to 2nd period. Somehow they’ve figured out that we don’t count tardies on the first day of school.
5. The day is best spent getting to know your students instead of teaching content. Save that content for the next 179 days of the year. Building the foundation for a positive class climate will make teaching the content far more manageable and enjoyable.
6. Those heels I thought I could pull off- nope. One of these days running shoes will be fashionable with dresses. I’m patiently waiting on this fashion trend.
7. No feeling can ever match how it feels to look out at your room right before the students walk in. Teachers spend days, even weeks, preparing for the first day. It’s exciting to think of all of the learning that is going to happen in our classroom over the next ten months.
8. Students want to feel successful from the very start. The first day is the silver lined cloud. Our relationship with students helps determine how long that lining remains.
9. I have a better afternoon when I’ve had lunch with my colleagues. Spending some time talking about topics unrelated to our work helps shift my brain and allows me the opportunity to have a break in my day. I am more effective when I take a break in the middle of my day– even if it’s for just thirty minutes.
10. I can never have enough pens and pencils. The 40 Ticonderogas I bought before school started and placed in the extra pencil cup will be gone within two weeks.
11. I have to retrain my hand on the size of an Expo versus a Sharpie. I am incredibly thankful for those newly formulated white board cleaners.
12. Meeting students at the door generates a sense of hospitality. This is their classroom, not mine. I just happen to spend more time in it than they do.
13. I create opportunities so students can laugh. This is a big one, folks. If we can laugh on day one we’ve begun to build a positive environment where students can let down their guard. I know that my students see me as an expert. I have degrees and awards on the wall. They’ve heard stories about me. But I also want them to see me as approachable. We inherently feel more comfortable working with people with whom we can share a laugh or two (or many).
What observations have you made about the first day?