I survived the first week of school! I feel like I got hit by a truck. It’s not the work, it’s the general chaos. Kids swirling around the building, schedule changes, the feeling I couldn’t take accurate attendance if I tried, “Miss, I’m supposed to be in this class.” Kids going to the wrong places making me feel I made a mistake. The broken copier. The crashed computer. The presentation that won’t work on my teacher desktop. The faces who rather miss summer, waiting to be entertained.

The first-week staredown…The showdown at the Not-Okay Corral. “What are we gonna do in this class?”



“We’re going to meditate and hope to reach enlightenment. Far easier than studying.”

Some think I’m serious. Then I go into my introduction.  It becomes evident there’ll be work. By Day 2 I’ve got some doing voluntary homework. “It’s not for a grade. I just want you to grow up smart. You’ll use this.” Day 3–they come in with pages of research, demanding I teach this topic immediately. “Okay,” I tell them, thinking for a moment. “I’ll fit it in next week.”

I overhear, “The bell rings and I don’t want to leave this class.”  Who says that about economics? No one. I certainly didn’t. Maybe I’ve got a shot, here, at pleasing some tough critics. It’s still early.

I’ve got work to do, they’re teens. They could love me one moment and throw empty Monster cans the next. They’re fiercely loyal to those who deserve it, but can turn on a person like sharks. It’s like playing Shakespearian Theatre in front of a bawdy crowd.

I’m tired. No hard work goes unpunished. The best laid plans require a Plan B, C, D, and E the first week of school. It can go smoothly, or be survival mode–three times the mental work as I learn names day one then get a feel for lessons that’ll work with the group in front of me. The first week is politics–relationship building mixed with studying and scientific research, assessing my crowd to see how they’ll learn best. By dinnertime, I’m fading.

“Going to bed already?” my husband asked.


“It’s 9:30.” I’d love for it to be 8 or 9, but the boy is a Jack in the Box with a broken spring, he pops up, pops up, and pops up again. I can’t latch the lid and make him stay in bed, and he’s got school in the morning, too.

9:30 will do. It’s that extra half-hour difference between life and death. It gives me that split second of processing time to get a name right, to answer a question, to fix the copier, to operate a motor vehicle safely, or take one more sip of coffee.

But now it’s Saturday. TGIS! Sleep in till 5:30, go to my first tournament as a soccer mom, and spend the rest of the day canning peaches. Meanwhile, I’ll plan some lessons in the back of my mind and dictate them into my phone until I can sit down with my computer. It is, I suppose, what Labor Day weekend is all about. Laboring. Teachers all over the universe getting back in the swing of things. No rest for the weary.

Happy first week of school, everyone!

A small wish:

May you have–or be–good kids. May you not have–or be–a boring teacher. May you learn things that matter, whether you’re a teacher or a student, so you can take your lessons outside of the class and be ever curious.

Let the games begin!