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The First Day of School

September 4, 2014

I always have trouble sleeping before the first day of school.

But last night I slept like a rock

To be fair, I anticipated my usual anxiety around the first day and took Benadryl (it helps me sleep). I also came home in the early afternoon and spent some time with my kids and husband doing the usual things: making granola, riding bikes, eating dinner. Before bed I started reading The Happiness Project, not even a YA book. Related to my life, not my lesson tomorrow. Time away from all the “what ifs?” helps to keep me centered.

Today I will only see two of my four classes because of our long advisory schedule. Perhaps that is another reason I slept well. In some ways, with a strange schedule today, and another shortened schedule tomorrow, it doesn’t see totally real yet.

I’m glad I slept. I feel rested and ready to start the day.

I’m worried I slept. I fear I’m getting complacent.

I’m about to start my 11th year teaching. My 6th year at this school. My 10th year teaching sophomores. My 2nd year back from my last maternity leave. My 1st year full-time since my daughter was born.

And I’m still excited. Even when it means the bittersweet knowledge that I won’t be around for weekday trips to the park or museum with my kids. Even when it means an end to weekday morning snuggles with my little ones. Even when it means getting up a 4:30, and all too soon riding my bike in frigid cold to get to work.

I’m excited. I’m excited to meet my students. I’m excited to see if my “minimalist” classroom design has the effect I hope for. I’m excited to see if my project-packet-plan allows me to teach through conferences more. I’m excited to watch students learn from each other as they discuss poems. I’m excited to see kids reading books – lots and lots of books.

I know there will be disasters. I know I will screw up, perhaps epically, and it will likely be related to classroom management. I know that during today’s two hour advisory I will probably have to pull an extra ice-breaker or two out of my back pocket. I know that there will be days that my blood pressure will skyrocket, and my adrenaline will rush, and it won’t be good.

But, after 11 years, I also know that my students will write. They will craft arguments. They will tell stories. They will share their lives in room 11. They will read. They will enter new worlds. They will get lost in tales that let them perform imaginary rehearsals for life, and make them stronger people. Yes, they will test me. That is what adolescents (and four-year olds, and two-year olds, and young adults, and middle-aged teachers) do. I may not pass all the tests. But, through the year, I will make a difference, perhaps profound, but most likely small, on the students whose live will intersect with mine. In June, I’ll be reflecting and planning for the next year, working to do an even better job.

I slept like a rock last night. It was probably the Benadryl. But maybe it was also the way I’ve accepted my inevitable mistakes and failures that are to come (perhaps today). I’m also learning to accept the successes and joy that comes with this job. I’m starting to think that I may not be complacent, but perhaps I’m a bit more centered. With that realization, I’m excited about going to work today.

Ms. L-P is officially back.

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