I realize that this post comes a week and a half after school has been back in session. And that I, as a teacher, actually began on August 14. So, technically, I’ve been “back to school” for about two and a half weeks now. But those of you who are teachers, live with teachers, or are the offspring of teachers will understand why.
This time of the year is crazy.
It’s setting up the classroom so it looks simply perfect for those incoming impressionable minds. In my case, and the case of many of my dedicated colleagues, it meant beginning those preparations mid-July so that things were just so when the year began. In my classroom, it meant pulling my theme, Hollywood, into every aspect of the room. In Mariel’s room across the hall, it meant multiple stops at Dollar Tree for balloons (you’d never know there’s a helium shortage looking at her bulletin boards!) and party decorations. In Connie’s room, it was designing paper Husker jerseys to hang outside with each student’s last name on the back. Ben spent his time using the leveling app on his phone to make sure every poster, Word Wall word, and calendar was exactly straight. Erin rearranged her room and bought brightly colored ice cream bowls. Colleen made lovely curtains. Shari affixed an adorable awning to her doorway. I’m sure that Sara moved in her cot, because I’m fairly certain she lives at school during the year. These preparations take our last weeks of summer and get us pumped for what’s to come.
It’s meeting our new students for the first time, and their parents, too. And equally, if not even a little bit more exciting, it’s seeing our old students from the previous year return, ready with hugs and tales of their summer adventures.
It’s the anxious feeling when you go to sleep the night before the first day. Teachers feel it, too! Going through the mental checklist (or paper checklist for some of us), making a lunch after a summer of not needing to pack one, and arriving shortly after the custodian unlocks the building doors, two hours early, just to make sure everything is exactly the way it needs to be.
It’s procedures and routines – and a lot of teacher talk time. The time we spend going over and over classroom procedures and routines feels monotonous. It means a dry throat and a few glazed over pairs of eyes, but that time comes back twenty-fold in the coming weeks as the students know the expectations.
It’s sharpened pencils, fresh boxes of crayons, and names written in Sharpie. It’s envelopes of lunch money, decorated folders, and assignment notebooks. It’s a little bit larger coffee and a lotta bit nicer clothing than summer. It’s building new relationships and setting goals.
It may be crazy, but it’s also pretty magical.