I want the perfect first day. That thought consumes me. I'm in the school a week before the other teachers, moving desks, filing papers, and trying to remember what I will feel when I stand in front of 30 strangers. I know, from the past, that systems need to be decided before the first day. The classroom needs to be a functioning, well oiled machine before 8th graders walk in- with them comes chaos. Only one things slows that chaos down- a clear picture on my part.
So, now I ZEN. I sit in my classroom and think. I look around the room and try to imagine a face in every desk. Is there enough space around the drinking fountain? When they get up to sharpen their pencil, is there a path from every desk? Will the turn in basket be here... or there? Or should I have two? When students turn in work, how will I collect it? What will I grade, what will just get a glance? Will they keep journals? Do they all need graphing calculators? If I have a class set of (anything- books, calculators, markers, compasses, protractors) how will I keep it from being destroyed/lost/stolen? Do they check everything out? Are they assigned a number? Are there baskets at every table? How did they sit? In rows? In groups? How do I communicate home? Newsletter? e-mails? How will I communicate daily and weekly plans? Where will I post our learning targets? Will I start each day with a problem or a riddle? How will I teach group dynamics? How will I stay caught up with planning, grading, organization, and the two thousand other things I HAVEN'T thought of once this year gets going.
I have a lot of questions.


Late Night Dreams

School, just around the corner. How do I know? The school dreams have started. Dreams of the first day, a classroom in chaos. School dreams never show a perfect day, but show the worst case scenario. Last night I saw visions of the first day of school-- and I had done no preparation-- school started NOW.
No matter how many first days I have, the nerves never go away. I must be crazy, thinking I can get up in front of 32 people and keep order and teach math. Suddenly, in the light of day, it hits me how much needs to be done before one student sets a foot in my room. I learned, in my first year, that a less than perfect first day will be something that can haunt me all year long.
SO, tomorrow, I go to work. When the dreams start, it's time to take control. Tomorrow it's time to unpack boxes, think about systems for the year, and get a feel for what is to come. I'll meet with my teammates and start to plan our attack on the year. This, to me, marks the beginning.


A sneak peek into another beginning

With one meeting and one casual BBQ, another school year lurks just around the corner. This year's classroom assignments, teaching teams, and even subject assignments are coming to us much later than normal. Summer phone calls have bounced from administrators to teachers and from teachers to teachers. No secret is safe on a middle school staff and no rumor is left un-said.
So, we finally all met. Papers were passed out- classroom maps, team lists, who teaches with who (whom?). Summer pleasantries were exchanged... but none of us were really ready to face the music. A few more weeks of summer still awaits us before we jump in fully and find out what this year (it will be different than last year!! I know it!! New systems! New Students! New Ideas!! I can make it perfect THIS time around!!) will have in store.