Sunday, August 28, 2011

The First Week

It's only been one week but summer vacation seems like it was over back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Most teachers will tell you that the first week of the school is the hardest of the year - mentally and physically taxing.  Physically demanding because your body goes from a state of relaxation (which, for me, meant spending the majority of the summer in various horizontal and semi-horizontal positions:
to a state of vertical stress.  It would be interesting to get a calorie counter I can wear to track how many calories I burn on a regular day: I walk around the classroom and bend over student desks, stand at and rapidly write on the board, carry around a couple of pounds of printing, and walk up and down a flight of stairs about 10 times a day. This may not seem very tiring to some people but it's a lot to get used to after enjoying a couple of inactive months. That's not to imply that I didn't exercise this summer, but running for 30 minutes a day and then spending the rest of it reading on the couch does not prepare you for spending 8 hours on your feet. And that's without adding the mental portion to the total exhaustion of the first week of school.

The first week of school is like establishing a new country in an old territory.  Especially if you're teaching a new grade and/or there is new administration. In my case it's both.  Where last year I taught first grade, this year I teach fifth grade. Last year our assistant principal was Ms. Cervantes, now it's Ms. Vecino.  Last year I was downstairs, this year I'm upstairs. Last year I was self-contained (meaning I taught all of the subjects) , this year I'm compartmentalized (teaching only math and science). Last year I had to learn 18 names and sets of parents, this year I have to learn 50. Last year dismissal was at 1:50, this year it's at 3:05. I have to learn a new fire evacuation route, new lessons, new standards, new materials, new books, etc...all of which must be mastered while I remember to turn in head counts, lunch forms, emergency contact cards, library cards; take textbook inventory and school supplies inventory; and implement my own classroom's rules, routines, and regulations. And when the day is over and I drive my weary body home, I have to plan lessons and home learning for two different classes which, ideally, should all be on the same level but are not. Basically, the first week of school is about a month's worth of work sloppily dumped into one. Teachers, good teachers, are definitely the multi-tasking champions of the world. 

It's painful but it gets better.  Especially when a smart, but shy, ten year old girls gives you this on Friday:

I'm "like a colorful flower that is pretty big". Does a better compliment exist?


Kallmen said...

Carry that around to remind you why you teach. Does it really get better than that?
You put the first week of school in words perfectly! Thank God it only comes once a year.

Chris said...

How about: "you are like a flower, both colorful and pretty"?

I'd add a disclaimer for all of those who don't know Paul and find the picture of my "colorful flower" sitting on his lap. I both encouraged and snapped the photo of her on Paul's lap when he visited us a few weeks ago. It was great to reminisce about simpler times in the West of Honduras.

Sara Herniman said...

Very nice blog! I'm glad I could be in one of your fun "horizontal" pictures. We will have to create more of them in Miami in Nov!!! ( :

Anonymous said...

Nana, you are so lucky to have a job where people constantly tell you they love and appreciate you.