New Year’s Eve

School starts Monday. Tonight is meet the teacher night.

A few year’s ago, we had my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to stay with us the weekend between in-service and the start of school. My brother-in-law commented that he couldn’t believe how much of the year has gone, that it was already August! I understood what he meant, but I didn’t see things that way at all. For me, the past year was over, and the new year was about to begin. This weekend is my New Year’s Eve.

Think about it – you’ve made goals for the year, kind of like New Year’s resolutions. (I’m hoping mine last longer than my resolutions. We’ll see!) A whole year stretches out in front of you, fresh and blank, and you have no idea what it’s going to hold. You’re gearing up for the start of something new.

In-service is hard. This year was a really good one, and it was a lot better than past years. This week still involves a lot of work though – copies to make, rooms to set up, administrative paperwork to deal with. I always somehow end up writing worksheet keys this week – my goal for the year is to hang onto them so that I don’t have to redo them year after year. There’s always change from year to year, and lots of new teachers, so the level of stress in the building is a lot higher during in-service, too, and that’s wearying. I feel like I say, “Take a deep breath. I believe in you, and you’re gonna do great,” about every other hour during in-service. We get new technology during in-service, so people are stressed about learning how to use it. We get reminded of administrative things and how our curriculum maps and Google Drive shared folders need to be set up, and someone is always unhappy about it.

But then, at the end of the week, we meet the students. Tonight will be long – an hour of an all school meeting, an hour to meet all the parents, and then a couple of hours doing something for our house system. (Basically, our school is Hogwarts except that it’s not a boarding school, and I’m McGonagall. Or possibly Snape. The jury’s still out.) I won’t be home until late. You’d think I’d be dreading tonight.

But meeting the students is always such an energizing and encouraging time. It’s a reminder of why I do this. Sure, I love the math, but if I just wanted to do math, I’d still be in grad school, or maybe in a post-doc by now if I worked quickly. I’m here because I love the kids.

We talk about rapport during in-service, and someone always says that we need to smile. I never quite get it – how can you not smile? I get to hang out all day long with these sweet, cheerful, hilarious, earnest, fun-loving young adults who really just want to be loved. I get to shape their minds, encourage their hearts, and mold their character. Forget smiling – I spend most of my day laughing. Teenagers are funny! I get paid to grade papers and write lesson plans, but the biggest perk is getting to hang out with students.

Yes, there are times when it’s hard. Yes, there are times when I have to keep students after class and talk about what is and is not appropriate to say. Yes, there are times when I’m frustrated with them. But those times aren’t the bulk of it.

Maybe your kids are different. I teach at a small private school, and the parents are very involved. We carefully select our families. I don’t have a whole lot of discipline problems. My students generally want to be respectful, even if they’re not always sure what that looks like. I can see how their would be situations where you spend so much time managing the classroom that it might be hard to remember how much fun they are. But that’s not my school, and those aren’t my kids.

So. In three and a half hours, a bunch of teenagers are going to walk through my classroom door to say hello. Some are coming back for the second or third year. Some are brand new to me, and some are brand new to the school. On Monday, they’re going to walk in and sit down and we’re going to talk about math and our year will begin.

I’m so excited.

Happy New Year, everybody.

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