That restless night of sleep that I usually have the night before the first day of school? Been having those for a couple of weeks already this summer.
That feeling of anxious anticipation during the week of pre-planning I usually get? That was replaced with a feeling of anxious uncertainty.
It started weeks ago.
Last year at this time I posted the following:
“Tomorrow begins my 15th year at my current school, the Home of the Titans.
Tomorrow begins my 22nd year of teaching – three schools so far. Hope I stay at my current school the rest of my career.
Tomorrow is my 4,501st day in high school as a student and teacher (non-workdays). That does not include my stint as a student teacher.
Ironically, that number is much higher if I count all of the days in the summers I am at school making preparations for the coming school years and the official workdays.
If I was a coach, that number would be still much higher. But many people do not see that because they are fixated on teachers having “summers off.”
Tomorrow is my daughter’s 541st day of high school. Maybe she will say hello to me if I pass her in the hall.
And I am still nervous. Why? Because I want it to go well. Not just for me, but for my own children, and the students who will be in my classes.
I know what my lesson plans are. Copies are made. Notes ready to talk about. Books ready to assign. Webpages are ready and linked. Introductions rehearsed. Even some homework is planned. I have more ready to do than could ever be done in the allotted amount of time. Yet, I am still nervous.
But I am nervous for the right reasons. I want students to do well. I want them to succeed. I want them to become self-learners, and I want them to use me as a resource, not just a guide.”
This year my daughter has gone off to college. Most of her classes are remote. Coaches just learned that seasons will not start for any sport for a while. No copies have been made. Everything is digital right now on a webpage constructed in a new system that I had to learn within a couple of weeks by using that actual system through an asynchronous online course. Books to be assigned had to be stacked up in a hallway for someone else to give out. I am supposed to make sure that half of my class time is devoted to asynchronous instruction. My class rolls are still changing with less than 24 hours until my first class on Zoom.
But I am am still nervous for the right reasons. I want my students to do well, but more importantly, I want them to still feel welcomed and valued. No doubt they will have to be self-learners even more this year.
And I will have to be an even better resource and guide for them.
I know that there are school systems out there where the teachers will have to do virtual and in-person instruction at the same time. I know that there are teachers who are receiving new class schedules and assignments in literally days before school starts.
I know so many teachers who are having to try and balance just being the professional educator, a parent, and still find time just to be human.
That human part is the most important to me. It’s what allows students to relate and connect with us.
I certainly do not envy administrators or superintendents or other support personnel. I have emailed my county’s program manager and school’s instructional facilitator frequently in the last few weeks sometimes late at night while working to get ready. In almost every case, both have responded – within minutes. They are humans like me. Like our students. Like you.
It is easy to try and find a target for blame for the situation we are in right now, but this teacher is not looking for someone inside of a school building. I truly feel educators and support staff are doing the very best they can with what they have.
However, when I see the powers-that-be in the General Assembly not do anything for the last month for schools during an election year but found the time last year to stay “in session” to try and find a moment to override a single veto just to make a point, I can find a viable entity to place blame.
When I recall that school buildings were shut down for a very few cases of coronavirus in March, but so many are calling for them to reopen when there have been tens of thousands of cases, then I can find deserving recipients of blame.
When I listen to electioneering politicians extol the virtues of public schools for the health of the economy , but whose actions and voting records tell a totally different story, then I know where I can direct blame.
I know that when I “walk into my classroom tomorrow morning,” I will be the teacher – as constant, inspired, ready to engage students as humanly possible.
I still want to be their teacher – even if is on a screen for a while. And my students will know that I want to be there.
If you are a teacher in North Carolina, then I am proud to be called one of your ranks. If you are new to the teaching world, then I hope you will see that this is a noble profession filled with wonderful people and that we as professionals can do amazing things for amazing students under the hardest of circumstances.
I wish every public school teacher the best of first days.
Even if it this has been the toughest summer in memory to get ready for a school year.
I think you are the best of people.