Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A new school year

It's back to school for many this week. There are family photos of children in pristine, oversized school uniforms all over Facebook and posts about teachers enjoying their last gasp of unstructured downtime for ten weeks. Not for me, though; I haven't taught in a classroom for years but a friend is beginning her primary teaching career today. We talked last night about how she's feeling equally nervous and excited.

I always enjoyed the start of each school term (and year) and remember my first day as a primary teacher like it was yesterday. Like all teachers, I'd been in a couple of weeks earlier getting things set up, planning, getting to know my colleagues, planning, attending teacher-only days, planning, setting up wall displays, planning ... I was planned and ready.

I got to school early on Day 1 and was having a final pep talk with my tutor teacher when the principal suggested I go up to my classroom because there were already some people there. It turns out that almost every child had arrived by 8:10 am with one or two parents in tow, eager to meet the 'new' teacher.

I took a deep breath, smiled and walked into my already crowded classroom. The introductions were warm and welcoming as parents and children alike had eagerly anticipated my arrival. My plan to remember all the children's names by morning tea (Classroom Management 101) was now extended to remembering parents' names - as well as who they each belonged to. You know what they say about plans, right?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all came from one child who asked what school I went to. I answered correctly and watched her pull my class photo out of her school bag. It turns out I was in her auntie's class when she was a first year teacher in the 1980s. Suddenly, a crowd gathered as my 6-year-old self upstaged New Teacher me and I realised the ice was well and truly broken.

To all teachers beginning or continuing their journeys this week, I hope you enjoy the freshness and promise that a new year brings before the grind sets in. Bonus points if you create some lifelong memories that make you smile many years later.

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