Teachers have the real joy in our profession. Now that I teach more teachers and administrators rather than students, I envy teachers on the first day of school. The first day of school is incredibly taxing. No one sleeps well the night before, wondering what the year holds. Teachers wonder if they really prepared enough, as no one seems to have enough time to prepare to get the year off to a smooth start, even those of you who started working a month before school actually started. Students hope they have friends and as I heard one child say, “I hope I don’t have any mean kids in my class.”
On the first day, most students are on their best behavior a no one wants a discipline referral to the office on the first day. All but the most broken children try their best as everyone has a fresh start and a new page in the grade book. School leaders have the task of what to do with all the children on the first day, hoping there are no major glitches in class schedules, bus assignments, and cafeteria logistics. Heaven help us if a teacher calls in sick and we have to deal with placing substitutes with new students.
While in the midst of the first day jitters, I hope those working in the schools take mental pictures of the first day of school for later reflection. Even with the back to school jitters, educators are the most blessed people in the world on the first day of school. The kindergarten teacher gets to hug the child who misses his mother and eventually forms a bond with the child. The bond can build memories for an entire lifetime as everyone remembers her first teacher. The middle school teachers and administrators experience the awkward pre-teen fear of changing classes, getting lost, and if he listened to older students trying to scare him, the fear of being locked in a locker all day or being tormented in the locker room. Hopefully, the student figures out he won’t fit in the locker and most of the scare stories are not true. Watching this child grow in the next few years is amazing. He changes from a child to a teenager and the teacher and school leaders gets to be a part of his or life. High school educators get to watch the most dramatic change of all. The squirrely, immature freshman boy with the squeaky voice, enormous feet, and silly antics – like making underarm gas noises – becomes a young man ready for the world by the time he graduates. The insecure freshman girl with the shy smile may become a poised, confident, college co-ed in a very short four years.
Those of you, who have the honor of influencing the lives of our nation’s students, please take a few moments to savor the first day of school, the feeling of walking on the freshly waxed floor, the eagerness on your students’ faces, the smells of the hot rolls in the cafeteria, the sounds of the bells, buses, announcements. Love every moment of it. You are making a difference and an indelible imprint on a student’s life. Today, I envy you.