You know who else gets first-day jitters? The teachers!
Becky French woke up at 4 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. The same will be true tomorrow morning -- Wednesday morning, the first day of school at Marion Cross School, where French teaches fourth grade. She spent a year of student teaching at Marion Cross 21 years ago, and returned to the school nine years ago.
And guess what? She still gets first-day jitters.
"When I was first starting out my biggest worry was I’m not going to learn the kids’ names," she said. She soon learned that was not a problem -- in part because she knows them already, in part because she makes a point of memorizing everyone's name by the end of June, and in part because she has already written each student's name about a dozen times -- on cubbies, on chore sticks, on stickers on desks.
"So now I’ve switched over to other things to be worried about," she said. "The biggest one is what to plan for the first day. Because you don’t want to have too little, but you almost always have too much. I forget every year how many little things you have to talk to the kids about. Like how in our classroom do we indicate that we have to go to the bathroom? Or show that we’re here today, or how do we do snack milk? ...
"You a|most can’t get through all those things in one day. And then you worry, 'Oh gosh, this most be the most boring day ever because all we’re talking about are these little procedural things.' But the kids come away saying, 'Oh! It was a great day!' Because they’re just excited for newness."
So is she.
"Until they get here you just don’t know what it’s going to be like," she said. "You can plan to do exactly what you did last year, but it’s not going to be the same as last year. It’s going to be different. Because the kids are different. ... They have a different group of questions. They have new anxieties, different relationships."
Plus the school is always trying something different, and so is she. And tomorrow morning, it all becomes real.
"The school is just not the school without the kids in it," she said.