Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The First Day

While I was student teaching, I always had someone else to fall back on. If something wasn't going well, there was another adult in the room to help me. If I couldn't handle something, I had someone else to take over if needed. Frankly, the responsibility wasn't mine, or at least completely. That all changed my first day of school.

I had a lot of ideals about what teaching would be like and none of them involved the first day. Somehow I always managed to picture my perfect teaching moments after several months of building the relationship. I didn't know what I'd do to build that relationship; I just wanted to go in as the cool teacher.

It all starts on the first day. I walked into my first day completely unprepared for what would happen. I'd student taught. I'd dealt with fights. I'd had most of the issues in my student teaching classroom. However, I always had someone else there to back me up. Even when my cooperating teacher was absent, I had a sub there to bounce things off of.

The bell rang on my first day and there were twenty one pairs of eyes staring at me waiting for directions. Oh! It's me they're waiting on! I found out early on that I ramble when I'm not sure what to do, so I rambled for a good ten minutes before I told them they needed to fill out information cards for me. I then seemed to forget everything I learned about timing during student teaching and tried to give them too little time, then hurried them through the activity while worrying that the silence was a little too... silent.

The most magical part of the day was that when I told them to take out paper, they all did it. I thought that the only reason my students did things for me while I was student teaching was because their real teacher was in the room. I said read this, and they did. I said write this down, and they did it. I only found out later that they didn't usually test you on the first day of school. Most of them are still too tired or nervous to push your buttons on the first day.

Despite the awesome compliance of the first day, I still had the overwhelming feeling of "Oh my God, these kids are my responsibility." I was nervous. What if one of them went crazy? What if one of them passed out? Had a seizure? A nose bleed? I'm the authority in the room. I'm the one they'd look to to fix things. It was a staggering and new feeling.

As the days and weeks went on, I gradually got used to the idea of being the responsible party in the room. I matured and learned to trust myself and my students. As the years go on, I'm even less nervous in the classroom. I don't know how I'll feel in the years to come, but one thing is for sure. I'm at home in the classroom. That's where I'm in my element. That's where I'm supposed to be. I wondered on the first day if this really was my calling, but I'm sure now.

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