Nothing compares to that first-day-of-school charm. The desks stand in neat, straight rows. The workbooks are unmarked, and the carpet is newly-shampooed. All the pencils are still sharp, the crayons unbroken. I stand by my door and watch the children come down the hall in their new shoes, and they greet me with smiles that are equal parts eagerness, shyness, and sheer exhilaration. They scarcely speak above a whisper as they unpack their backpacks and explore their new room.
And then the first day moves into the second, and the days melt into weeks. The desks are perpetually crooked, the new shoes have scuff marks, and the floor. . . well, let’s not talk about my classroom floor. Do you have any idea how much of a mess twenty youngsters can make in a day’s time?
But although I’d like to capture that beginning charm and be able to pull it out anytime during the school year, there’s also nothing like the comfort of familiarity and established routines. Instead of sitting at their desks glancing at me cautiously before the bell rings in the morning, students gather around my desk laughing and chattering and telling me their stories. I love this. I love that I know them and they know me, and we’re not shy around each other anymore.
No matter how many years I have taught, each year still has its “firsts.” This is the first time I have had twins in my class. It’s also the first time I have had so many girls in one class–fourteen, to be exact. Yes, we have plenty of shrieks and giggles around here. Sometimes I feel sorry for my six poor hen-pecked boys. Then again, they’re pretty good at holding up their end of things.
(Practically every break and lunchtime someone will say, “Miss Beiler, will you come spin?” And sometimes it’s, “Hurry up and finish your lunch, Miss Beiler, so you can come spin double dutch.”)
I worked part time on a cleaning crew over the summer. I wouldn’t say I hated the job. Parts of it I enjoyed, and I was glad for the opportunity to make some money in between all the traveling and other things I did throughout the summer. But when school started I found myself laughing with joy each morning as I got into my car, just because I was so happy to be going to school instead of going to my cleaning job. How am I so fortunate to have a job I truly love?
And even though my dirt-spying senses were sharpened by a summer of cleaning, most of the time I don’t even care about the dirty classroom floor. It’s a sign that life happens here.
(This picture is taken from my classroom window. It shows what often happens when your windows are level with the ground.)
And for a parting shot, here’s a note I found on my desk one day: