A Teacher’s Dreams For Her School Year Are Pretty Much Dashed On Day One

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So, you know that Staples commercial? The one where a parent is skipping joyously through back-to-school supply aisles while the kids drag behind looking woeful? The Most Wonderful Time of the Year plays in the background—that one? This commercial speaks to me not just as a parent who is so ready for my kids to get out of my house –  because one more senseless squabble and they will go live with grandma – but also as a teacher. I have been teaching high school for ten years now and back-to-school time is, simply put – magical.

This year, I went back to work a week before the teacher’s scheduled return date because I changed rooms and couldn’t wait to decorate my new classroom. I chose a garden/bohemian theme, as my new room has two windows with a gorgeous view. When I entered my room in the early hours of summer, the light poured in and my pulse quickened with excitement. I couldn’t wait to beautify this space. I was feeling very Martha Stewart (pre-incarceration) and knew my returning students, those I’d taught as sophomores now entering my Senior Creative Writing class, would be blown away. This would be the most beautiful learning space in all of the United States. My classroom would be Zen-like and students would achieve enlightenment in all things English. As I stapled paper flowers to the wall, and created batik fabric bulletin boards I felt like teacher-of-the-year-of-the-world. I also managed not to fall off the chair while hanging posters and so things were already feeling smooth.

Even now I can’t sleep the night before the first day of school. I tend to double check everything. Did I make the right number of first-day copies? Do we have enough deodorant in the house so that I don’t get the scrappy remains? Earlier in the summer, I treated myself at a designer store for my back-to-school outfit. I ended up purchasing a baby doll black dress and a white short-sleeved shrug to wear with some white sandals—comfortable and cute. I check the outfit over and am so happy to have the shrug which hides what I perceive as jelly arms—teacher paranoia. I’m awake and ready to roll before my morning alarm rings. During my 30 minute commute, I listen to a burned cd of soundtracks from my favorite teacher flicks. I’m so revved up to greet the students when I get to work that I have to consciously tell myself not to run up the stairs.

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