Today was the first day of school. And no matter how many first days I have, I am never quite prepared for it. Ever. I am not prepared for how nervous I will feel. Or how sleepless the night before will be. Or how frazzled I will feel in the morning. Or how exhausted I will feel in the afternoon. However, I am always prepared for the fact that I will miss the previous class. Tremendously.
Today was no different. I watched my former students walk to their new classes down the hall, stopping for hugs along the way and my heart silently screamed, “Come back! I’ve learned so much! We can have so much fun together!” But my mouth just smiled and whispered, “You’re going to love fourth grade!”
And then arrived the brand new sparkly third graders! Shiny. Almost a little too shiny. Fresh-faced. Why weren’t they a little dirty and mussed up? Eager and chatty and full of life! They are not last year’s kids. Nor should they try to be – no matter how much I miss those now fourth grade kids at this moment. They need to keep being themselves, their marvelous little selves.
I will eventually get with the program. A shared comment about a favorite book, a girl eager to share her math strategy, a boy taking his writer’s notebook out to recess…soon I will be smitten. And I will come up with nicknames for them. And they will learn all about my family. And we will feel as if we have always been together. I know this is coming and this is what keeps me going in that first month when I miss those deep relationships with last year’s class.
Teaching is a funny thing. In business, you take your time and build relationships so you can have clients for life. Remember when Gap started Gap Kids and Baby Gap? For life. And that’s just for t-shirts and jeans. Yet here we are with teaching, with students, with human relationships and we only get 9 short months. Broken up by holidays. We build a community, a family, and we learn and share and care together. And right when we think we have hit that incredible point in the year…yup, summer break and a whole new group of kids.
But we keep coming back. Perhaps it’s an addiction we have to developing and building relationships with amazing young minds. Or maybe it’s because we have found the eternal fountain of youth – a chance to remain young year after year. I don’t know the answer but it’s something I will be mulling over this year…as I get to know the 20 fabulous little people that meandered and bolted and traipsed through the door today.