First Day of School, The True Feelings
The First Day
In the minds of teachers and students alike, the first day of school is usually a dreaded one. Teachers are coming off of a restful summer period (unless their wife makes them work, like mine) and are hesitantly looking forward to the new set of children that will grace their doors. Students are giving up the sleeping in, swimming at the pool, and the period of freedom called summer break. Obviously you can see how this would cause some potential stress. As a career educator, in our public school system, it has always been my job to make this transition an easy one. As a teacher, I did everything I could to help students "survive" their first day. As an administrator, I do everything I can to help teachers "survive" their first day. It has been an experience in both facets, but one constant always remains the same. Yep, there are 179 days left!
The Student's Perspective
This perspective was the trickiest for me to understand. Obviously, at one time I was a kid. I experienced first days and have the pictures (thanks mom) to show for them. My first days never seemed that bad. I guess I was one of the nerds that actually looked forward to starting school. Many outsiders looking in probably think that the first day is filled with miserable faces and children worn out from a play filled summer. This is an excellent assumption, but is definitely not a true one. During my time as a teacher, I found that children loved coming back to school. I don't know if it was because of seeing friends, having new experiences, or wearing new clothes; children loved the first day. I truly feel that every child has a deep seeded desire to learn. When they know that they are starting a new chapter in their life it excites them. This is why I think that it is important for teachers and parents alike to promote the first day as the beginning of a new journey. Children play off of emotions. If the parents show that they are excited (which some probably are too much) for the new year then their children will build on this excitement. The most important factor then becomes the continued excitement from the teacher.
The Teacher's Perspective
One of my previous principals said, that the parents wake up every morning and send us their best. It then becomes our job to take what we are given and mold them into a success. I am a true believer in the importance of the teacher in a classroom. I feel that sometimes society casts teachers aside, but in all honesty people respect teachers. Most adults can remember a situation in which a teacher helped them reach their goal. The first day is equally important for teachers. I could spend 100,000 words on how to get the classroom ready, classroom rules, and what to do after the day is over. Luckily for me this has already been done in Harry Wong's book, The First Days of School. During my first year as a teacher I read this book and found multiple pertinent strategies that I used up until my last year in the classroom. Mr. Wong's book covers the ins and outs, but doesn't cover the emotional aspect. I truly felt as a teacher that I had to save every child. It should be every teacher's goal to take children to an academic and social peak that is unimaginable. No matter what people say, every child is talented and every child can be successful. It is the teacher's job to tap into that talent. This is why I think, for a teacher, the first day is so important. Teachers make impressions on the first day. It is important to develop professional teacher/student relationships on day one. By providing students with an environment of trust, caring, structure, and discipline (students act like they hate it, but they don't); teachers will see success throughout the school year. A teacher must let students know on day one that they will do everything in their power to help the student be successful. If this is not the mindset that the teacher has then no book in the world will help. When we show are children that we are truly "in the trenches" with them, we will eventually reach them all. Math and Science are important, but without the proper relationship we will never reach the pinnacle of academic success we are pushing for in America. Start the first day off right and don't worry about the next 179.