Tomorrow is the first day with kiddos. It will be the sixteenth time I've had a first day of school as a teacher. You'd think I'd be better at it.
We have a week full of teacher workdays before kids begin. There are plenty of meetings and professional development but also lots of setting up of my classroom. That's my big stress every year. Will I have the room ready? I go home on Friday exhausted, but feeling pretty good about the classroom. Then, at some point, usually Sunday or Monday, it would hit me that kids would be there on Tuesday. Planning for that had not happened during the teacher prep week. This happens every year.
This year, my sixteenth, I actually thought about this last week. But I'm still not prepared. I finally realized I can't truly be prepared. I don't know the nineteen kids who will arrive in my room tomorrow morning. I recognize some of them. I knew some last year because they were in my daughter's class. But I don't know them the way a teacher needs to know students in order to prepare.
By the end of this week I'll feel differently. I'll still have so much to learn about them, but I'll know them infinitely better than I do right now. I'll know about their families, things they like, things they don't like, how long they can sit still, where they want to be in our classroom, how well they can solve problems with their peers, and more. By listening and watching I can learn about them. But I can't yet. So I can't really prepare for them.
This evening I logged into our attendance program. I needed to create a class list to share with the special education teacher who will be teaching in my room with me. It was shocking to see nineteen little faces I don't really know. At first glance I wondered if there had been a mix-up. That couldn't be my class. I don't know those kids.
This also happens every year. I loved my students last year. Every single one of them. Even the ones who drove me crazy. We were a family.
I know that will be true again. It's been true more than a dozen times (I looped twice and got to keep my family of kiddos). In a week we'll be a family. But right now it seems like an insurmountable mountain. These nineteen faces, smiling sweetly, terrify and challenge me.
But give me a week. Then I'll open my attendance page and smile at those exact same faces smiling back at me.