Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back Again for the First Time

First week of school, check. Only 5,000 more to go.

Monday was my fourth first day of school as a teacher (or at least quasi-teacher because I am counting student teaching in that number). The difference this year was that for the first time I was actually returning to the same school instead of starting somewhere new.  Obviously this was better just because of all the challenges of starting a new job. I'm so happy that I don't have to get new keys, deal with not knowing where to find paper, and guess which random first initial/last name combination they picked for my computer accounts (seriously, I can think of at least 5 different ones I've had. Nobody else has these problems).

But what was more exciting was that I actually know kids this year. It was so cute having former students come give me hugs and tell me about their summers. This week lots of them have come to me with help on their math homework because they're too afraid of their new teacher (he's a former Marine--I'm kind of scared of him too). It's a wonder how the haze of time can cloud their memories. "I miss your class!" they tell me, because now they're only able to remember the approximately two fun days we had. They seem to have forgotten about the chaos and significant lack of learning. Except when some of them were helping me give a tour to the new freshmen and Y. followed up every statement I made about rules with, "But you never made us do that." Thanks.

Coming back to the same school as a teacher is just like it is for the students. Freshman year they're all wide-eyed and terrified because they don't know anyone and don't know what's going on. As sophomores they're all excited to see their friends again and finally know enough to at least be able to pretend they know what's going on. I, too, am no longer so wide-eyed and am very much pretending that I know things. My 10th grade mentees have definitely made this transition as well. Last year it was like pulling teeth to get them to talk to each other. This year one of them reminisced, "Remember when we were quiet?" I could barely hear his comment over all the yelling. I've been told that 10th grade is the pivotal year when high school kids finally turn in to real people, but I've also been told this about 9th grade. And I expect that when my mentor group still can't shut up next year someone will tell me this is true for 11th graders.

It's good to be back. At least the 9th graders are quiet for now.

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