Sunday, September 7, 2014

The First Day of School

It was the first day.

It was the first day of second grade.

It was the first day of second grade and the first day of my fifth year of teaching.

The summer went too fast and the days were still too hot.  I wasn't quite ready to go back but I begrudgingly packed the lunches, picked out the clothes and got up too early.  Getting back into the routine was harder than I had ever anticipated.  As I chugged coffee, blurry eyed, I got my own children ready for their first day.  We had a good breakfast, took some pictures and I anxiously watched from the window as they got on the bus. 

As the bus pulled away, it sunk in that now it was my turn.  I finished getting ready and grabbed another cup of coffee and headed out the door.  As I drove the 15 minutes to my school, I thought about my incoming students.  I worried that some may not have all the supplies they need.  I wondered what they would be like.  I was curious about them and their families.  As I pulled in the parking lot, I waved to familiar faces; co-workers, friends and former students. 

Walking through the door on that first day, the smell of the school hit me.  I guess I did miss this place after all.  The floors were shiny and squeaky after having their summer coat of wax.  The staff members smiled with a renewed sense of gusto for the upcoming year.  I wondered how my own children were doing.  Did they find a friend to sit with on the bus?  Did they find their class ok?  Will the lunches I packed make it in the unreasonable heat?

As I entered my classroom, it all came rushing back.  The excitement I felt for being an educator.  All the worries of the morning slipped away as I passed out freshly sharpened pencils and a coloring page with a Welcome Back to School message.  Soon, my room would be full of seven year old kids that are just as tired, excited and nervous as I am. 

I smiled and proclaimed a Welcome to Second grade as they entered the room, eyes wide and faces full of wonder....

It was the first day.

It was the first day of second grade.

I didn't want to go but my mom said I had to.  The summer was so fun but I did miss my friends.  I wished that I could just have a few more days.  It was so hot outside and I really wanted to go swimming, not sit in school all day.  My mom woke me up early and made me breakfast. 

I put on my new outfit that grandma bought me.  My big brother helped me tie my new light up shoes.  Dad said that I need to learn how to tie my own shoes.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the bus stop.  I saw a few friends from my street and we talked about our summer.  My friend, Sam went to Florida to see his uncle.  I'm jealous.  We didn't go anywhere except to the park a few times and that one time my mom took us to the city pool. 

The bus ride to school was so loud, I could hardly hear myself think!  Kids were jumping around, there were a few Kindergarteners crying and one kid looked like he was going to get sick.  When we got to school, I felt the butterflies in my stomach.  I knew I had a few friends in my class this year, but what if my teacher was mean?  What if she made me read out loud on the first day?  What if she didn't like me?

As we lined up with our class, I could feel the weight of all my new supplies in my backpack getting heavier and heavier.  It was really hot outside and I started sweating.  When the bell rang, we started walking in the building.  As I stepped through the door, the smell of the school hit me.  Maybe I did miss this place after all.  The floors were all shiny and new looking.  I could see the reflection of my light up shoes glowing on the floor.  That was cool.

We came around the corner and I could see my classroom down the hall.  The door was decorated with a bunch of space stuff.  There were planets, stars and moons.  It looked really cool.  There were stars with each of our names written on them. 

I took a deep breath and walked in the room.  There she was.  My teacher.  Standing in the doorway.  She was smiling, so she can't be all that bad....

As they cautiously walked in the room, I could feel their hesitation.  Some carefully avoided me altogether.  Some whispered good morning and went straight to their seats.  A few jubilantly exclaimed good morning! and put their things away. 

I could tell that I had a lot of different personalities right away.  While some engaged in conversation with me, others quietly avoided me like the plague.  As I made my way around the room, I helped them put their new supplies away.  I could see the excitement on their faces as they got out their brand new, sharp, pointy crayons for the first time.  I noticed one sniff the box.  New crayons always smell the best!

As we all settled in, I answered questions about how to order lunch, where to put important papers and "when is recess?"  As they quietly colored their paper, I though about my students from the previous year.  I wondered how they were doing in the room next to me.  Were they equally as nervous as my room was right now?  Did they have a great summer?  Did they all get the supplies they need?  I missed them.

But as I watched and talked to my new students, I realized that a year from now, I would be missing them.  I would be wondering how they are doing and wishing we had a few more days together.  I would be getting to know a whole new group of children that were apprehensive and scared of their teacher. 

I smiled and offered for them to come down to the carpet to read a story.  They gladly put their things away and made their way to our gathering area.  I read a book about the first day of school and how teachers are just as nervous as kids and they laughed.  I told them how it was tough to get out of bed this morning and I asked if they had a hard time too.  Most raised their hands and in that moment, we all realized that we had something in common.....

She looked nice enough, my new teacher.  But I know sometimes they try to trick you.  They start off all nice and then look out!  They switch it up and give you a ton of homework on the first day.  I hope she isn't one of those.  I whispered good morning and headed straight to my desk.  I started to unpack my things and my whole box of markers popped open and they all scattered to the floor.  Embarrassed, I reached down to pick them up and then she was there, my teacher.  She was kneeled down and helping pick up my markers.  She smiled as she handed them to me and said "Looks like you've got some cool colors to use.  After you finish unpacking, you can color your paper, ok?"  I shook my head and smiled.  Maybe she wasn't a tricky one,  maybe she's a nice teacher.

After I got all my stuff put away, I got out my brand new box of crayons to start my coloring page.  I love new crayons!  New crayons are probably the best part of the first day of school.  They smell so good.  Just a quick sniff and then I'll get started. 

My picture was looking really good and my day wasn't going as bad as I thought it would.  My friend from last year was in my class and picked a desk right next to me.  We were sharing his crayons because he got the big box with the sharpener on the back.  Lucky.

I was all finished with my coloring when my teacher invited us to come to the gathering area for a story.  I put all my stuff away.  Crayons back in the box, pointy side up, and sat down on the carpet next to my friends.  My teacher read us a book about the first day of school and, get this, teachers get nervous for the first day too!  I couldn't believe that!  When she was done, my teacher said how she didn't want to get up this morning either!  I laughed about that because I felt the same way and so did the other kids!  And in that moment, I realized that we all had something in common and it just might be a great school year after all!

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