Saturday, August 29, 2015

First Day

      In my world of teaching, I have at least six first days per year. Because of the six segments my school year is divided into, I start new classes every 28-31 days. No doubt, though, I put more effort into the "real" first day of school than I do into the other ones. Having a plan for the first day and assembling needed tools can contribute to a smooth start to the school year. Trust me, I've learned the hard way.
Photo by EpicFireworks
      I admit it. I've done it before. Taken a cavalier attitude towards the initial beginning and just kind of winged it. The result? The only bomb with more explosion power was possibly the a-bomb. Possibly.
      After stammering and stuttering through the first half hour of nonsense, I stopped. Not because I thought it best but because of the raised hand and following question of a student. "Uh, can you stop now and just let us read?" Much to my students' relief, I left them alone and allowed them to begin. I had pity looks that first day, looks I hadn't had since the high school dances!
      Only, the glances of my students hurt worse. I had let them down. In my over-confidence, and dare I say laziness? (I dare), I failed to prepare properly for the first day. While languishing  in humiliated silence, I reviewed the bombshell, noting all the things I failed to do.
      Lesson learned. I've never repeated that scenario nor have I longed for those pity looks from my kids. Instead I prepared. I knew what I wanted to cover, how I wanted to cover it, and made a plan to do so.
      This small practice has reaped huge rewards. I'm more comfortable and confident on the first day (and ensuing first days), knowing I have only to glance at the board or my notes to know what's next. I've tried desperately to be like other teachers I know, who use the cavalier method which works for them. Obviously, I needed more structure. Obviously, I needed to admire not emulate my colleagues. Obviously, I needed confidence in my own style.
      That bomb detonated years ago. Since then I've still failed at some of the things I've tried my first day, but I failed in confidence, knowing I had planned but my ideas didn't line up with my kids' ideas of a first day. No big deal. I may have failed, but I did so comfortably, knowing it was something I had prepared for that just didn't work. That happens. Just less often when you have your stuff together.
      So happy first day of school. Review your material, know what you want to do, and be prepared. If you do this, one thing you won't have to review is the emergency exit map. Keep the bomb shelter for another day.

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