(fourth grade and fourth grade)Day 1:
I woke up so enthusiastic and excited. I curled my hair, ate breakfast, and practically skipped out the door to my car. I pulled into the parking lot and in my whirlwind of excitement, I didn't even put the car in park before turning it off. However, once I got to my classroom, the confidence and joy slowly transformed into anxiety and fear. I was terrified. I embarrassed myself in front of a parent (don't you think fanning yourself and hyperventilating just as a parent walks into the room is a little embarrassing?), and I felt flustered and unprepared all morning (even though all my materials were laid out in order and I've had my plans ready for two weeks...). The kids came into my room and I felt okay. We were all kind of shy and I didn't feel like I was being myself. It was going alright, though. I realized after two minutes that I hated my bathroom procedure, so I just pretended it didn't exist and went the whole day without one. They asked me questions I didn't have answers to, and I felt stupid. Then a kid told me he had diabetes, and I realized I didn't know anything about diabetes... at all. He told me he needed to "check blood sugar levels and get the nutritional information for the school lunch" and I didn't know what the first thing was or how to do the second thing, so I told him to wait. STUPID!!! STUPID! STUPID! I now know that was the stupidest choice of my career. He got really low, and came up to me again a little shaky and said, "I need to check... like right now!" I freaked out. Left my class (bad) and ran down the hall with this kid, hoping he wouldn't pass out under my watch. I couldn't wait until lunch, so I could drown my sorrows with carbs and reconsider my occupation.
I got some caffeine and food into my body, and I felt slightly better. I returned to my classroom feeling disappointed and blah. I've been waiting my entire life to experience THIS? Embarrassment, frustration, and failure? Then something magical happened. Pure magic, I tell you. We got back from lunch and I told the kids they could color while I read a book aloud to them (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Bloom. Classic.). They seemed excited and I felt like for once I had done something right. I didn't care if they weren't paying attention to the book, I just wanted it all to end. I read two chapters and told them to put all their drawings and materials away. I walked over to my desk to put the book away, and when I turned around I had a line of 10 kids waiting behind me. One by one, they all handed me carefully drawn love notes, portraits of me, and thank you letters. My heart filled up with that excitement and confidence that had been buried away, and I felt like I could save the world! I returned to the front of the room with a sparkle in my eye and my head held high! I gave the most engaging lesson about our classroom rules. My students and I became a team as we solved potential problems, recited our class rules, role played, laughed, learned, and sang together. They understood alliteration. We made our own superhero shields, and they were amazing. They were so creative and funny. I fell in love with them. I wanted to hug and squeeze every single one of them, but I think there's some stupid and unspoken side-hug rule in place. At the end of the day, they told me they didn't want to leave! "I wish time would speed up so it could be morning and we'd be in class again!" "I don't think I've ever had this much fun at school!" "This is going to be the best year ever!" ... AMEN! I couldn't wait for Friday. I high-fived all my kids on their way out, calling them by name and feeling like a rockstar. I left feeling so fulfilled and so incredibly happy. I knew teaching children was truly my life calling.
I was antsy to see my 24 beautiful kids again. I strolled into the office and grabbed my mail, confident as ever. I was surprised and a little irritated to see a "NEW STUDENT" slip, but I figured what the heck. Surely one more angel would not make a difference! (Even though 24 is the perfect number and my desks were in perfect rows for partnerships, small groups, and back-door partners). I hurried to get my new student's materials labeled, and tried to decide the best place for his desk to go without ruining my perfect arrangement. Done. Easy. Right? My new student came into the room and it only took me about 3 seconds to realize he does not speak English. At all. Maybe 5 words? I almost crapped my pants. I tried to remember ANYTHING from my college courses that could help me out, and nothing came to mind. Nothing. (What did I pay those professors for?) ... Nothing? Okay, then. I welcomed the rest of my students and taught them some things. I got them started on an assignment and called my precious new student to the back table. I downloaded a translator app on my iPad and started "talking" to him... I spoke into the iPad in English, he read what I said in Spanish, he responded in Spanish, and I read his response in English. I thought to myself, "If I have to do this the whole year, I swear on my life....." and tried not to cry. THEN, another miracle happened. One of my sweet, sweet babies came up to the back table. He must have realized the new student and I were struggling, and he started translating for me. HELLO! It made my whole day. He was totally willing to help and wanted the new student to succeed. I buddied them up for the rest of the day and things went smoothly. I'm still figuring out how to approach this barrier between us (because let's be honest, he needs to learn english. USA!), but my angel translator will do for now. Aside from temporarily losing a student, making a boy cry, and one of my girls getting kicked in the face at recess, the rest of the day was filled with productivity, more love notes, gifts, fun educational projects, and happy students. Another day under my belt, and I felt good.
As you can see, it's been a wild ride. I'm hoping things will get easier with experience. I'm also hoping my students don't grow out of their angelic phase. At the end of the day, I'm happy I chose this job. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but gosh dang it, it's hard! Thank you all for your love and support!