Back to School, Once Again
The knot in your stomach gets tighter and tighter, as if 2 tiny beings are pulling on either end, as the days seem to fly by, each one more quickly than the last. Your nights get shorter, and you wake up more often. When you wake up, you have a harder time falling asleep. Your brain is suddenly wide awake even though it's 3 AM and your body tells you it's still time to sleep. In your waking hours, you spend hours on YouTube or Pinterest, looking for fresh ideas and engaging activities. You are excited and anxious at the same time. Your dread builds up while you also look forward to this first day. You are a teacher, and it is back to school time once again.
Some of us have had many "back to schools". In fact, my good friend Dave, who just retired, has been going back to school for a good 57 years. This will be his first year ever NOT going back to school. He plans to spend the day in a nearby bookstore, leisurely reading his book and not thinking about the students coming through the door. He promises to bring me coffee once in a while this year, though he says he will not stay to visit, and definitely not to sub.
People who are not teachers marvel at the fact that teachers have 2 months "off". However, teachers everywhere know what really happens. We use large chunks of the summer to prepare for the following year, meeting with other teachers and going to professional development workshops. We teach summer school. We attend conferences. We work at other jobs to make extra money. I know - we are lucky, too, to have unstructured time at home with our families or by ourselves, recharging for the following year. But by the time the summer comes, we need it. In fact, I need a good three weeks before I start feeling like a normal human again. By the end of August, I think I might have the energy to face 400 seventh and eighth graders once again.
As August comes to a close (and I know many teachers have been back to school for a few weeks already), teachers, take a deep breath. It's going to be fine. The anticipation is often the worst part for me, and once my students walk in, I'm excited to be there once again. Students, try not to be nervous. It's a new year, with new possibilities for excitement, learning, friendships and growth. Families, as you send your kids off to school, keep us in mind. We work hard to make every day count for our children. Work with us, not against us. Administrators, support your teachers, listen to them, value them. Unions, thank you for all you do for us; stay strong!
The first day of school is just around the corner for me and has already happened for many. Vacation is almost a distant memory. As my mom and I work on finishing our book, I found myself looking at blog posts from my first year of blogging. I found this one, still very true today and appropriate for this time in the summer!
The anticipation before the first day is the worst. You feel desperate to hold on to every last second of summer, wishing you could drag every minute out, and thinking about everything you didn’t get to do that you wanted to over the summer. There are always more things to do than days in the summer. The night before you go back you just want to cry. How can it already be over?
Then, inevitably morning comes and you have no choice. You grudgingly accept it and get ready for your first day.
During the first days back, before the students arrive, there is always hope. Hope for the new year, starting fresh, and trying new things. Hope for new routines, new students, starting lesson plans from scratch. Everything is bright and shiny, you open new boxes of markers and fresh post-it pads excitedly. You even feel hope as you listen to the new principal talk about new procedures and her vision for the school.
Hope wanes a little as you sit through convocation, not so inspiring this year (or maybe it’s just how you’re feeling). The 88 slide powerpoint that follows and the mandatory trainings on Epi pens, safety, etc. start to wear down your excitement.
Finally, freedom – you are finally given time to finish your room, and prepare for your students. You finish the day, head swirling, exhausted, feet throbbing, and STILL not ready for the first day. But then, are you ever 100% ready? Either way, the kids will be there at 7:30 the next morning, also nervous, excited, and mourning the end of summer. Another year is starting. Good luck!
Here is to 24 years of teaching, new beginnings, and HOPE. Always keep the hope.
Have an amazing year!