Ah, the first day of school. All those fresh clean faces, hair combed, clothes pressed and new shoes ready to take them where the day would go. Now that’s just the kids! What about the teachers?
I remember the day when, as a new 20-something teacher, I was ready to meet my first class. What I wore would make an impression, and I wanted them to think I was cool. Full of enthusiasm and ready to mold minds, I thought I was prepared as much as I hoped.
I had spent time setting up the classroom with bulletin boards (I always liked to do bulletin boards) that I thought were interesting. My desk had touches of my personality and all the supplies I needed. Paper: check! Class list: check! Freshly sharpened pencils: check! Red pencils and pens for correcting: check. Pens with blue and black ink: check! Plan book with carefully made plans for the first week, including subject, pages and objectives: check. The grade book with all names in alphabetical order carefully written: check.
That book would be with me at all times. I even took it home with me so as not to get into the wrong hands. I was ready!
The setting was St. Joseph’s School in Addison. I had already scoped out the different ways to arrive at the school — no GPS at that time. I was ready if there was inclement weather or traffic problems.
The day came and I arrived in plenty of time and stood at the door to greet students with a smile; they were looking me over and I was looking them over. There were 59 fifth-grade students filing into my classroom. I was definitely outnumbered but ready for the challenge. After all I was the teacher.
I let them sit where they wanted, because it gave me a bit of an idea about them. I was going to change their seats anyway in a day or two because I was in charge, I was the teacher.
I turned to the blackboard, wrote my name, turned back to my charges and introduced myself and … couldn’t remember what to do next. Well, we survived and I believe they learned. I know I did.
The next year I changed schools, heading to Mater Christi School in North Riverside where I only had 46 students — piece of cake. I was prepared because I was now the “experienced” teacher and enjoyed every bit of it.