I sit here anticipating a new school year with a stack of books beside me and a spirit full of conflicting emotions. The prospect of a new class of eager young minds excites even the most jaded teacher, but the reality of classroom management and apathetic students is what creates the jaded teacher in the first place.
The start of the school year has always been exciting to me. As a child, I remember having all of my school supplies laid out and sorted on my desk the night before school started. A brand new notebook to fill with knowledge, inspiration, and doodles seemed almost as wonderful as any new toy. In high school and college, the new year or semester generated a clean start when I could once again strive for that 4.0. (Didn’t reach it very often, but it was the possibility that drove me.)
In one way or another, my life has always been punctuated by the school calendar. When my children were too young for school, I was still drawn to the back-to-school sales to buy notebooks, pens, crayons, paper, binders, organizing supplies, calendars, and whatever else struck me – oh yeah – like post it notes. Everybody does this, Right? Probably not. School, learning, and teaching are in my blood. No matter how hard I try to do something else, I always end up back in the classroom.
So, here I sit: reading, writing, planning, preparing. Knowing that when I walk through the doors on Monday and face my students for the year, there is no turning back. There will be days I feel I nailed it and the students loved learning, and days the students would love to be anywhere else but in class talking about The Iliad, and nights of prep work and grading when my kids are clamoring for attention. There will be self-doubt and discouragement when the students aren’t as excited about Shakespeare as I am, and frustration when the MLA format that I have taught every.single.time I assign a paper still seems to escape their grasp.
But at the end of the year, when I look back on all we have learned together; when I compare a student’s writing from the first paper to the last; and when I see just a spark of appreciation for great literature ignite under my students, I know I am where I’m supposed to be, teaching what I most enjoy, and passing that down to the next generation.
Now back to the stack of books…