So, tomorrow is the first day of school. Or at least, the first day of school for the kids. I’ve already worked six workdays plus a Saturday and innumerous after dark hours of reading, searching Teachers Pay Teachers, emailing myself documents to print, attempting to plan and trying not to cry in a dark corner in the fetal position when it all gets too much. But tomorrow is the day, because tomorrow the students arrive and the classroom really is put to the test.
My displays are done, my learning objective frames are up and my pencils are sharpened. I (sort of) know what I’m doing on the first day: routines, routines, routines, class rules, getting to know you games, routines, routines, routines. I have my first day outfit picked and ironed and my desk cleared and looking neat.
But here’s the thing: after the usual introductory days, practicing routines and introducing subjects which will take up the first week, I’m clueless. This is a new thing for me. I’ve been teaching four years now and (and please note, this is not meant as a brag) I’m okay at it. I don’t profess to be a teaching expert at all, but I can handle a classroom and the kids I’ve taught have done alright. I’ve had good lesson observations and good feedback from colleagues. I’ve taught different year groups, got to grips with different types of planning and assessed every which way. I’ve always been okay with all of that. I’m a super organized person too, as anyone who has ever worked with me will tell you. Lesson planning is a thing I love to do… Not so much at the moment though.
It’s been a crazy few weeks and I’m feeling very (read: crazily, absolutely, ridiculously) overwhelmed. Things are done differently here, and maybe it’s because I’ve had so many different things to wrap my head around, but tonight it feels as if my brain is stuck. Think Little Britain: Computer says no. Right now, brain says no.
I’ve sat looking at my computer screen for the best part of five hours today, but I still don’t have a week’s plan for ELA (that’s Literacy, for all my British teachers). I know what Daily Five and CAFE is, but can I plan a week’s worth of it right now? Not a scooby.
Honestly, this complete overwhelmed-ness is getting me down today. I’m used to being the teacher who knows what they’re doing and who hits the ground running when September comes around. Not this September (or August, as it stands). This time round, I’m less Usain Bolt and more You’ve Been Framed. And I don’t like it.
So what have I done about it? Well, I’ve baked brownies. Yes, that’s what I’ve done. If I’ve lost my ability to plan an English lesson, at least I still know how to bake: it reminds me that I’m not entirely useless when I’m feeling every inch the dunce. Getting to eat the brownies helps too. As for the second week’s ELA plan, it will wait. For now, I’m going to have an early night, curl up with a good book (The CAFE Book, because I’m clearly a glutton for punishment), and say to myself three times: I do know how to teach, I do know how to teach, I do know how to teach. Hopefully by tomorrow morning, I’ll have convinced myself.
And even if I haven’t, I’ll still have brownies.