I completed my twenty-fifth ‘first day of school’ today and I have to say . . . I hate the first day of school! The confusion, the mysteries, the uncertainty, they all combine to make it possibly the worst day of the whole school year.
Confusion arises from several sources, the students are getting used to a new teacher’s style and rules, the teacher has to learn 25 to 30 new names as soon as possible and things always crop up that were not foreseen.
Let me give you an example. Today I took my class out and practiced a fire drill. We talked about rules and responsibilities. I assigned several jobs and then got down to the meat of the day. I passed out an activity that assessed cutting skills and took an initial writing sample. I then had them write independently so I could assess their skills and get an idea of their spelling ability. All these things were disguised as fun: the cutting was a hand print we are putting up in our room, the independent writing was based on the story, The Little Train That Could, they wrote three things on train cars that they thought they could do. Finally the last activity was them writing about themselves, their favorite subject, like their favorite color, food and hobby and drawing a self portrait. It’s always interesting to see what they think they look like.
After we had worked for quite a while a new little boy brought me all his papers with almost nothing done and said, “Teacher, I can’t read.” I laughed, tousled his hair and said, “No problem guy, that’s my job, we’ll work on that.”
As a teacher you have to be ever vigilant.
Then there are the mysteries, like the new student who has no idea what is going on. We get a lot of these in kindergarten. You see them walking down the hall at lunch time. They are looking around them like the Big Bad Wolf might be hiding anywhere.
“Hi, whose class are you in?” “I don’t know.” “What does your teacher look like?” “It’s a lady.” “What happened to your name tag?” “I don’t know.” (By now I am sure it is a kindergartner) “We have three lady kinder teachers, is she tall?” “Uh-huh.” Then a kindergarten teacher walks up and says “Come on. You’re with us.” As they walk off I notice while she towers over the student, she is the shortest of our kindergarten teachers.
And the uncertainty. This year I started with a roster that had 27 names. Twenty-six of those showed up today and one new student enrolled so I ended up with 27. That almost never happens. Usually I am wondering how many kids will actually be there? I remember one year I had 36 show up on the first day and another where I ended up with only 15. Of course neither of those classes stayed that way — for very long.
I hate the first day of school, it’s almost as bad as the last day when I have to let them go.