Thursday, September 08, 2005

The long-awaited first day...

Whew, it's over. I've spent so much energy thinking about and focusing on this day that I kind of forget that I have to go back tomorrow. And the next eight months.

For the third night in a row, I barely slept. Tossed and turned, mind racing, no real sleep. Bah! The alarm went at 6.30, because I wanted to give myself a little more time to get ready and get to school. I arrived at about 7.20, and busily twitched around, finishing up my classroom stuff.

When I went downstairs to pick up my first/homeroom class, oh my god, I was so nervous. I had to wait to get my class, and my stomach was getting more and more knotty. Oy. I still felt like the whole thing was not real and I had no idea what to do with a new crop of twelve-year-olds.

So I got my class, I kept my face blank and/or stern, and silently led them up to my classroom. And for the first class, for the first ten minutes, I was totally faking it and was about two shakes from busting out laughing. Ha! Joke's on you! What, you think I'm actually a teacher? Bwah!

But the longer I was up there, the more I got into my role of tough, no-nonsense teacher.

For each of my three classes, I did roughly the same things. First, I took attendance and walked them through filling out the contact card. Which they industriously, silently did. Then we moved onto the parent packet. I read them the welcome letter and reviewed the supply list.

Then I handed out paper and pens. I told them that they had a mental scavenger hunt to do: I had put some hints about my theme around the room. So they had to look around and decide what they thought my theme was. A few students did notice the signs that say "Expect Excellence" and the quote signs that say, "We are what we repeatedly do. EXCELLENCE, then, is not an act, but a habit! --Aristotle" I had them write about what excellence means to them. We shared out. Occasionally, I would say, "Oh darnit, I forgot. What do I expect again?" And they'd chorus, "Excellence." Fun!

We discussed professionalism: "Why am I wearing this [my lovely new eggplant pantsuit] instead of, say, sweatpants and a t-shirt?" and how your dress impacts the way you go about your job.

Then we talked about the rules. I asked a student to read each rule out loud, and then asked them why that rule is important. I told them that we will be having a classroom that is safe and comforting. And they eagerly raised their hands to contribute why following directions the first time is important.

For one class, I had time to let them start the fall survey. Tomorrow we'll finish those and perhaps begin setting up the reading and writing notebooks.

I went over homework. Probably too briefly. I will leave more time for it tomorrow.

At the end of each class, I had to warn them: "I don't care what your schedule says, you will never hear a bell in this room. You will hear your teacher, Ms C, dismissing you." Coupled with my stern face and sharp voice, I think I made my point.

After lunch, when I was sternly waiting for the class to quiet down and get ready to enter the room, I felt someone fall into my back, and arms fly around my waist. I twisted around as much as I could and saw the smiling face of one of my Class B girls. Two others were right behind her. "Hiii, Ms C!" they squealed. Too freaking cute.

Eventually, the day finished. I wanted to dance a jig. A jig of joy and excitement and relief! I am a teacher again, and I did not get my ass kicked on the first day back to school.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not counting any chickens here; I am going to keep up my tough act because I'm afraid next week they'll turn up with big old attitudes and shit, and all my work and progress over the last year will be for naught. So like I said, I'm not going to rest on my laurels about the management, but I think that today went as well as it could have. And I'm so relieved and happy!

Except, of course, that I have to get up and go in again tomorrow. :)


Rebecca said...

Congratulations, sounds like a great day!

I was going to say something about remember not to be TOO stern (to the point that you totally stress out your kids), but yah, you definitely know that already. I understand that you can start strict and loosen up later, but you can't start laid-back and then expect to tighten things up later on. Both of my parents worked are/were teachers... so I definitely know.

Fred said...

I hate the couple of days before school starts. I can't sleep either. No matter how well everything is organized, it doesn't matter.

Sleepless in Tampa Bay. That's me.