Thursday, August 16, 2007

Haircut and new shoes, first day of school blues...

It's that time again.

I'm sitting here at a clean desk, looking around my neat and empty classroom, waiting for wide-eyed students in their fresh uniforms to appear on Monday. They'll be giggling and nervous, talking excitedly about their summer adventures. They'll look tanned and fashionable, with brand-new haircuts and new looks -- new braces, new glasses, or braces off and contact lenses in; all looking so much older than they did in June.

I always get stage fright the night before the students' return to school. I'll be up all night Sunday night, tossing and turning, rehearsing my "welcome back to art class" act. I'll wear my best outfit, curl my hair, make sure my makeup is just-so, wear uncomfortable shoes, and try to appear authoritative and stern, yet approachable and encouraging. I'll field 1,000 complaints about "I can't even draw a straight line," and "I didn't want this class; I signed up for yearbook." I'll make them laugh, and then probably scare the hell out of them with my demanding 7-page syllabus. And then it's on.

An awkward dance will ensue and we'll step on toes and stumble throughout the next couple weeks until we settle down into a rhythm of teaching and learning, falling and catching, mistakes and triumphs, frustration and exhuberance... a symbiotic relationship that is possibly the most challenging thing I've experienced; second to raising my own children. The room will become cluttered with half-finished projects, piles of sketchbooks, bins of art supplies, bookbags, lunchboxes, and the occasional paper airplane or football. The creativity will start flowing from the students and into paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other projects, and beautiful things will start appearing in display cases and on walls throughout the school. People will be surprised at the depth of thought and talent that can come from kids ... and I will be surprised that I have anything at all to do with it because it comes so spontaneously, when it happens.

I'm really looking forward to this year. I always say that. And it's always true. Nerve-wracking and exhausting as it is, I love the beginning of the school year.


Jelly-Filled said...

What a wonderful post. You've described the opening of school so well. It's been a few years since I've experienced it, so this post brings it all back. In another week, I'll be sitting where you are. :-)

Rebecca said...

I used to teach music before I had my youngest.....getting ready for the first day was one of my favorite things. I didn't enjoy the teaching part near as much!

Rebecca Burch said...

Hi, Jelly-Filled and Rebecca!

JF -- Thanks, and good luck! You're going to do a great job.

Rebecca -- Oh, cool, we have something else in common, too! :) Music was my second choice. I wish I had stuck with it, too. I'm trying to get back into playing piano, with some luck.

Chris James said...

Good luck, y'all. Teaching is the hardest and most important job I can think of (well, besides whoever it is that makes the hot dog sauce for Sam's Hot Dog Stand).