Today was that most magical of days, when anything is possible, when copies are ready days in advance, when your outfit is picked out the week before (or is that just me?), and when music is on in the front lobby to welcome you! Beyonce! Rihanna! Well, good morning to you, too!
I like to think I’m not the only teacher that has a summer alter-ego. In July, Ms. Spitz exits, and I become the super-fun, extra-social, late-night-talking “Summer Marn.” I stay out past 9:30 pm on a school night, I can hold a conversation during dinner time, and I’m not afraid to attend a social event on a Friday night. I may even watch TV during lunch. Gasp! It’s hard to say goodbye to Summer Marn, but then the first day of school comes along and makes you so excited to welcome back Ms. Spitz — cardigan-wearing, clip-art-loving, cheesy-quote-finding and all).
I may be a grown woman and eighth-year teacher, but I still get the same butterflies on that first day that I did when I was a student/first-year teacher/attending a Justin Timberlake concert. In fact, I’d like to take a moment to compare the school year to a Justin Timberlake concert. If the school year is a concert, then the first day is the opening song. When Justin (we’re on a first name basis) opens his concert, he chooses a song that gets everyone on their feet, so excited to see the rest of the show, and so in love that they want to buy T-shirts with his name on it for $45. Similarly, as a school, we’ve got to make that first day one that gets our kids on their feet (well, in their seats), makes them so excited to see the rest of the show (“I love this syllabus! I can’t wait until Unit 3!”), and so in love that they want to buy T-shirts with our name on it (but only for $10). With so much pressure and build-up, the first day is exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It happens. And then just like that, another school year is underway.
For me, that first day/opening song of the concert was today. It’s over. It happened, and I am tired. I am happy. Some might even say thrilled. I also realized that Ms. Spitz is completely out of teacher shape. Summer Marn has not completely left the building and I need to do something about that.
Currently, I’m in my classroom, and as I sit here reflecting on the day (by reflecting, I mean staring off onto my beautiful new bulletin boards, sparkling with their new trims and posters that have not weathered a school year), I’m thinking that you know it’s the first day of school when:
1) Your throat hurts.
Turns out, teaching on the first day requires you to use far more of your vocal chords in seven hours than you have all summer. Also-the first day is lot of me talking. Like-a lot. I need to work on that.
2) Your handout speed is a lot slower and your handout counting is off.
Oh wait: There’s ten of you in this row? You didn’t get one? Sorrrryyyyyy.
3) Your whiteboard writing is slanted.
4) You forget that cute shoes are not teacher shoes.
It’s the first day back, and you want to look your best. So perhaps you decide to wear, say, cute ankle boots to tie your adorable back-to-school outfit together. This was a mistake, one you will be paying for by lunch. Ankle boots are not orthopedically sound nor are they designed for someone who is on their feet all the live-long day.
5) You are wearing an outfit that has no marker stains.
It’s amazing what time away from the Crayola can do for your wardrobe. Oh hi, stainless green dress! It’s so nice to see you again!
6) Students are saying “hi!!” to you super-enthusiastically in the halls.
In fact, some may even be running up to you (yeah, RUNNING!) because they are THAT EXCITED to see you! (“Oh hi honey! I could’ve sworn you hated me last year, but look at you! You loveeee me!”)
7) Your desk is clean. Impeccably, irresistibly clean.
Want a highlighter? Sure–it’s right in my super-organized Highlighter Bin! Need a paper clip? No problem. Please see the drawer labeled “Paper Clips.”
8) The copy machine is available because everyone had their first day lessons printed.
Over-prepared might be the MVP of day-one lessons. Syllabus? Check. Weekly agendas? Check. Surveys? Check. Bathroom passes? Check. Copies for tomorrow? Don’t be ridiculous.
9) There are bagels in the teachers lounge!
Free breakfast?!?! Today must be special!!! And…there are donuts! And a variety of cream cheese flavors! And wait-orange juice!! What?!?!?!
10) Your face hurts from smiling so big because you are so darn excited to be back where you belong. **
** You also need to take a nap. Like, right now.