Monday, August 22, 2011

The Calm Before...

I have been looking forward to the first day of school for weeks. Since the moment that I realized during the summer that a lot of what I was learning in my storytelling class would be applicable to my own classes, I have been more or less counting down the days till the start of school. Now, two days away, I realize just how much prep I still need to do... syllabi to complete, opening day activities to plan, print-outs to make...

The most common question that I have asked my colleagues (and I guess my students, too) over the past week has been whether or not they are ready for school to start. Almost unanimously, everyone says 'no'. Most of my colleagues are excited, as I am, but few feel really ready; prepared for the busy-ness to start up once again.

Perhaps this will always be true of teaching--perhaps we'll never feel completely ready for the first day. As we grow as teachers from year to year, we gain a greater awareness of what we need to improve (even as we do in fact improve)--this means there's always something to work on; always something to be done; always something to be slightly apprehensive about. I guess this is part of what ensures that teachers will be life-long learners, but man... for the time being, I wish I didn't feel like there was so much yet to be done.

In the vast scheme of things, I'm not worried, though. One way or another, everything will come together on the first day. It always does. In our high school staff meeting yesterday, we discussed classroom management and discipline. The conversation inevitably lead to relationship and what it means to love our students, to create an atmosphere of love in the classroom. This afternoon, I will sit in every desk in my classroom and pray. Beyond that, there's not much that I can do to prepare for this intangible-but-not-invisible aspect of my classroom environment, no rubric for how much I care for my students, no curriculum map for love. Yet, I would argue that it's the place where a healthy classroom needs to start.

This will be an interesting year--it has been two years since I last taught the Juniors that I will have this year, and the Freshmen will all be new to me (as students, anyway--I know many from JAM). I will miss the class of 2012, with whom I bonded over the last school year, and who I won't be teaching this year. Yet, I'm excited for the chance to build community, fellowship and relationship with the classes of 2013 and 2015, and know that through caring for these students, I will do all that I can to sort out the day-to-day workings of my class as they come so that the kids can truly grow.

I pray for God's grace, peace and strength as I stand on the brink of this process. This is year #3... there were times when this day seemed so far away as I was struggling to keep my head above water my first year, and now here it is... God is good and He's delivered me to this point... I shall continue to cling to Him and do my best to instruct, guide and love my kids.

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