Notes from a Professor: the First Day of a New School Year

Posted: August 31, 2011 in Education, Personal

There’s something magical about the first day of school.  It’s all about new beginnings, students; fresh energy, and replenished creativity.  In preparation for day one,  you craft and create the new syllabi and assignments.  You remind yourself that you can use the same canned jokes again because most of your new students haven’t heard them before. You pretend, for a minute, that you are going to change the calendar of when you’re delivering midterms and settle on the same pacing you’ve used for years, even if it means students all end up with all their midterms at the same time. (Inevitably, your colleagues are using the same math to decide when to give their midterms too.) Then you send the document off to print, reminding yourself you can always make small adjustments on the fly, if need be.

Then, it’s off to meetings, and ceremonies, a few parties, orientations that really disorient everyone involved, and if you’re lucky a quick trip to the bookstore to see the ridiculously high prices they’re charging students for books that could be ordered on Amazon.com or another book retailer for a third of the price. Then, Somewhere amidst the craziness of the beginning of the year madness, you’re reminded  that it’s important to take a breath, and tell yourself, “I’ve got this.” Then after taking that confidence-boosting moment, you pull out the old lecture that you feel like you could give in your sleep –remove pop culture references that are “so yesterday” in the minds of your 18 year old students, and polish it up with some new, and timely examples.  You hope you’ve remembered everything necessary for the first day of class.  Right before ‘show time’ you say a little prayer and hope that the powers that be bless you with the strength and fortitude to make it through the semester, the grey matter necessary for remembering all your students‘ names, and the common sense to check and make sure you’re all zipped up and buttoned up before you’re in front of the classroom. Then, when all is said and done, you walk into the classroom and own the room –this is their space, but you facilitate (or perhaps dictate) what happens within those 4 walls, for 1 hour and 20 minutes, twice a week, for the next sixteen weeks.

Yes, there is definitely something magical about the first day of a new school year.

Good luck to all involved.

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