So, I survived my first week of school with the kiddos. Now, when I say ‘survived’, let me be clear – I made it to 4pm on Friday with my limbs all still attached (though whether they were in full working order, I can’t confirm), my brain still in order (well…sort of…), and a smile still on my face (of course, as the old saying goes, if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry). I had the same number of students at the end of the week as I did at the beginning, and my classroom is still standing, even if I was ready to drop. So, I survived.
But I’m being unkind to myself: it wasn’t all that bad. It was hard work though.
The first week of school always goes in a blaze of incomplete to-do lists and ‘Oh I forgot to do that’ and ‘Why didn’t I order those exercise books?’ The kids have invariably forgotten how to write or read or speak coherently, and teachers…We’re not all that different. We have to re-train our bladders, our brains and our energy supply, because, yes folks, the holidays are over! And they’re just never long enough, are they?!
This year, my first week back has been even more of a whirlwind, since I don’t just have a new classroom or class or curriculum to get used to, but a new classroom, class, curriculum, education system, country, state, town, law system, role duties, computer keyboards, assessment systems, acronyms and everything else besides. The list goes on (just like my ‘To do’ one does). There’s a lot to do, but more than that there’s a lot to learn. I’m a student as well as a teacher this year, in many ways. But that’s okay – I’ve also loved being a student.
Even before the first day with my kids, I was worn out. A week of teacher workdays, and my classroom still looked like a blank canvas. I still haven’t gotten to grips with Daily Five and CAFE, am still learning the Common Core Standards, and conversations are still littered with words that I don’t understand (and are often too many in number to keep asking for definitions). I am used to having a stock cupboard full of everything I need, but have quickly familiarized myself with Target and Walmart and, my personal favourites, the Dollar stores, to account for the absence of one here. I’m learning what Social Studies is all about, what a PTA does, how the chaos of buses and car pool and everything else works at the end of the day, and how big they are here on routines and procedures in class. I’m learning a lot.
After four years of teaching, I am still sleepless the night before the first day of school. My brain is a whirr of all the things I have done or haven’t done or wish I had done or dream of doing. This year was no different. But the first day was different. I won’t bore you will all the details of my first week in second grade, but here’s what I will tell you: it went well.
I have, as is always the case, a great bunch of kids. I have characters and hard-workers and so much creativity and enthusiasm that I am once again reminded why I chose to teach. What other job, I ask, offers you a different day every day?! We have learned the classroom routines, started building our reading stamina, shared our summer stories, and gotten to know each other. Here are my highlights:
Day 1: “Miss L, have you met the Queen? Is she actually a real person? So, England is, like, 3 days away, right?”
Day 2: “Miss L, what does ‘jumper’ mean?”
Day 3: “Miss L, why do you keep calling Math, ‘Maths’?”
Day 4: “Miss L, I’ve been talking like you at home and my mum keeps laughing at me!”
Day 5: “I think I’m going to like second grade, Miss L.”
Fun week, huh?!
I’ve eaten my weight in chocolate, worked twelve hour days at school and worked at home till the clock read ‘am’, forgotten to drink on a few days I’d been so busy, and generally worked my socks off. But maybe, just maybe, if I’m going by the exit slips my kids left me, I’ve done more than just survive.