Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The First Day

Today was my 21st first day of school (the 20th anniversary of me starting kindergarten), and my 3rd as a teacher... 4th if you count student teaching.

It's amazing how much things change from the first year to the second, and then the second to the third. My first year is only two years past, but it seems like ancient history to me now... not in terms of the time that's gone by, but how much different I feel in a classroom. I remember having a very specific vision in mind for how I wanted things to go on that first day two years ago... and nothing went as I'd planned.

I was nervous, and visibly so. I shook as I talked to my new classes, stumbled over words, and tended to be very subdued and quiet. Nothing came out right, and I kept mixing up details and then coming down really hard on myself when I realized I'd made a mistake. This may be hard to avoid as a first-year teacher. I think you just have to muddle through those rough, nerve-wracking times with the knowledge that things do get better. However, those first days set the tone for the entire school-year and so there were many awkward, tense moments in the classroom that resulted from my insecurities and lack of self-confidence.

My second year, I found myself being much more articulate on the first day, and much more calm. I was in control of my faculties, and could say what I meant to say. As a result, the year started smoothly and I left the first day feeling confident and ready for a new school-year, a clean slate. Though it was a hard year in many other respects, my second year in the classroom was a good one and I think that was due in no small part to starting the year strong and being more sure of myself right off the bat.

This year, playing off of my self-confidence from last year and my positive experiences in the classroom, I started as strong as I ever have. I still have the feeling of control, calmness and confidence from last year, but rather than hiding my nervous energy, I've converted it into performance, thinking about my tone, my gestures, my eye contact, my expression, my body language... and then going crazy. With each class period, my introduction of myself and my classes got a little bit more animated and a little bit more dramatic (it helped that my introductory activity was pretty much the same from class to class). By the end of the day, I was leaping, bounding and sprinting around the room as I explained why I think English and literature are important to study. Did I look ridiculous? Yes. Did I have the students' attention? Also yes. I may tone it down in coming days, and I may not. I think my style has been developing to this point, and maybe if I'm overflowing in energy, some of it will transfer to my kids along with a zeal for history, literature and learning about how to function in God's world.

It was a fun day. I'm now exhausted, but I'm looking forward to a good year.

No comments:

Post a Comment