Saturday, September 22, 2007

Phylum Democrata

I promise I'm not quite as conservative as this post may lead you to believe. But red or blue, you have to admit that it's funny.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The First Day of School (or My Pre-Teaching Anxiety Resolved)

Last Wednesday morning, I had one of those lightbulb moments. You know the ones I'm talking about - when you have the sudden realization that you've been thinking about something all wrong for years. An epiphany that really changes the way you look at something. Well, on Wednesday morning, I discovered that teachers at at least as nervous to go back to school as the students are. My knees were shaking as I trudged up the steps to the school, as I skirted around the security guards and the metal detector (after convincing them that I was, in fact, a teacher) and as I climbed the steps to my classroom. They were still shaking as I walked back down those steps because my classroom was locked and the key taken by the room's former occupant.

My school, however, has discovered an ingenious way of curing new teachers of that nervousness. Imagine this: you've slammed your finger in the door, and it's throbbing madly. Just as it gets to the point where you can't take it anymore, someone cuts it off. The finger, I mean. The initial problem - gone. Unfortunately, a much bigger problem has taken its place.

So there I was, a shaky-kneed first-year teacher trying desperately to calm her nerves and prepare her still-locked classroom for her first class. I also still hadn't received a roll or any sort of list showing who would be in my class. First period (my prep period) drags by, prolonging the time when I would actually face my first class. The bell fails to ring to announce the start of second period, so I stand patiently at the door for an extra few minutes to welcome the stragglers into class, direct them to their seat and point out the warm-up assignment written on the board. There are 12 (read: twelve) of them, all told. To those of you from Utah or Idaho, where a normal class size is about 40, this might seem tremendously small. In actuality, our classes usually run between 15 and 25, so I wasn't shocked by 12. When only four students showed up to my third period class, and even fewer in the succeeding four class periods, I began to worry. My nervousness about the first day was gone, replaced by frustration at the much larger problem at hand. I had only seen 18 students all day. Total. Students schedules hadn't been finalized before school started (and actually still haven't been finalized, a week later), leaving students with glaring gaps in their schedules. Students I had last year would find me in the halls: "Ms Chamberlain, can I come be in your class? I don't have a history class."

Aha. Anxiety gone.