I was born wanting to be a teacher. By second grade, it was clear that I would teach elementary children. I taught my Cabbage Patch Kids every day after school. That Christmas I asked Santa for a chalkboard, a lesson plan book, real workbooks, and a stool to sit on. (My favorite teacher, Mrs. Thornton, had a stool.)
It was not that long ago, I waited in anticipation for my class list. All of these names with no faces yet. I wrote their sweet names over thirty times all over our classroom. Would they like me? Would I be enough for them? Was I prepared to teach them everything they needed to know?
I had worked all summer preparing our classroom. Spent so much of my own money to get all the final touches my room needed. I wanted my students to love it. This was their home away from home. This is where we were going to learn, make memories, laugh, and cry.
Family members helped me get it all together. My Mom-Mom made curtains with the most precious ABC fabric you have ever laid eyes on. My husband assembled furniture. My mom laminated and cut out all my handmade decor and posters. This was a team project.
After college, extra training, spending my whole summer preparing, I remember worrying about my first impression on my students and their parents. They didn’t know that I had already been praying for them each by name. They didn’t know that I shopped all day for the perfect outfit for our first time to meet. They didn’t know the hours I spent at the school making sure everything was perfect for their children to learn and grow.
Wow, I can think back and remember it all so clear. And you know, I felt the same way year. Sure it got a little bit easier. But beginnings can always be a little scary.
There are teachers all over this country picking up last minute items for their students. They are eating dinner at 9 pm in their classrooms because their sweet husband said they had to eat. Their bags are full of stuff they take home to work on but fall asleep on the couch as soon as they sit down because they are exhausted. There is no tired like a “beginning of the year” tired and “end of the year” tired. Just ask any teacher.
So, as I sit on the other end of this whole process. My son has been waiting (dying) to know who his fifth grade teacher is going to be. We will walk up to see his class list tonight. There will a teacher’s name without a face tonight. (Sure we will run home to look it up in the yearbook.) And tomorrow we will meet her. Will she see my sweet boy the way I see him? Will he meet her expectations? Will she noticed he spent twenty minutes on his hair? Will she understand his humor? Does she know we have been praying for her all summer and will continue to as the year goes on?
She will because I will notice how her room is ready for him. I will see her new haircut, manicure, and outfit. I know she attended countless professional learning sessions this summer. She is just as nervous as I am and underneath it all, we get it!
She will lose sleep the right before the first day of school. I know she will wake up at least four times worried she will miss her alarm. Of course she will leave her house an extra thirty minutes early just in case there is an accident or unexpected traffic. She will turn on the lights to her classroom and realize it will be filled with eager students in just a few minutes. With her lipgloss perfect, she will smile as they all enter the room and assure parents it will all be okay. The bell will ring and she will close the door. As turns to look at all the precious faces looking back at her, she will feel her heart grow just a little more. Because this was all she had dreamed about since she was eight years old.
Happy New School Year to all the millions of teachers who love our children and have more demands put on them every year! I get you! I have your back!