Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers
Opening day, the first official day for teachers in our school, is about a week away but I am dreading it already. It is my least favorite day of the school year, which is probably not a politically wise thing to admit to…but true.
Here’s what every opening day of my teaching life has looked like: Everyone arrives to sign in sheets and a breakfast of doughnuts, danish pastry, and weak coffee. Thank goodness for that weak coffee, though. We move from the cafeteria to the auditorium (more sign in sheets) and prepare ourselves for opening remarks in which someone from the School Board essentially tells us that we must do more with less and that (nevertheless) our school is the crown jewel of our town. A few inspiring quotes will be shared for that humanistic touch. There may be a PowerPoint. That is followed by someone from the school’s administration telling us what the district’s new goals will be (remember, we must do more with less) and how important it is for us to keep these goals in mind as we march into the new school year. There will definitely be a PowerPoint – many with pie charts and graphs so we can visualize how to do more with less. And inspiring quotes, hopefully not the same ones we saw in the previous one. Then we will troop out of the auditorium and into another meeting just for our particular school. Sign in sheets, and another PowerPoint to remind us of procedures, rules, expectations, changes in how things are done. There may be an ice breaker activity so that we can be reacquainted with our colleagues in the most awkward way possible. There may be additional quotes, one year we even had a pop song thrown in – the less I say about that, the better. Then we will be asked to meet with our teaching teams so that we can go over said rules, and changes in procedure. Definitely no PowerPoints to look forward to, thankfully. Finally…we can go back to the places where the real stuff of our teaching lives happens: our classrooms.
Every year, I sit through all of the above thinking of only that last part: my classroom. To be honest, I’ve been thinking about my classroom all summer, and I would have been there the week before getting it ready for the year (which is a good thing, because getting a classroom ready for a school year is a labor and thought intensive process). Our classroom is half of the beating heart my teaching life – every book, stick of furniture, placement of furniture, wall and corner of this room has been thought out to best suit the other half of the heart: the children.
When I think of these children, and the year ahead, I am filled with so much emotion: they are why I show up every day, they are why I read and think teaching things all summer, they are what will keep me up late into school nights. The children.
I wish Opening Day could be less about procedures and facts and directives and opining about lofty goals for the school district. I wish all of that could just be sent to us via email sometime before, so that our first official day back in our building could be more joyful, more nourishing of our teaching souls. Teaching is hard, hard work. The school year makes many demands on our time and on our emotions that vary as wildly from year to year as do the children we are responsible for. Opening Day should acknowledge that. I would love for it to be about a quick gathering of building staff and then TIME to get back to our rooms. I would love it be about being in that space upon which so much depends with time to make that shift of mental gears: from summer time research and planning to school time “here we go” reality. I would love the luxury of quiet time in which to put the last few things in order and immerse myself in thoughts of hope, and dreams of doing with the children – to get into the teaching zone again in the way I, the teacher, see best fit.
That’s what I would like to do on Opening Day.