Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Day of School

The first day of school is so exciting. Everyone is excited...students, parents, and teachers. But it's a little difficult to talk about the first day of school because everyone is starting at different times. Around here, some schools started at the beginning of August and some won't begin until after Labor Day. So, to start with, I just want to wish everyone an exciting, productive, and safe school year.

I also want to tell a story. Last week I was talking to the father of one of my former students. He was telling me that his son, I'll call him John, had graduated from college a couple of years ago with a degree in elementary education. He hadn't found a teaching job and so had taken a few odd jobs. The father said that John could have found a job if he had been willing to move, but John had fallen in love and wanted to stay in the area. (What we don't do for love!?)

John had just taken a job in a office supply store when he got a call from the personnel director of a school system that needed a new kindergarten teacher. At the end of last school year, one of the kindergarten teachers had retired and the student numbers indicated that the teacher would not need to be replaced. However, after this year's registration, they found that the numbers of incoming students had actually increased. Fortunately, John had his application on file, received the call, and took the job.

So last week on Monday, John started his new job. He walked into his new classroom and discovered it was filled with the former teacher's supplies, books, and papers from the last 30 years. Nothing had been cleaned. Being the trooper that he is, he called his mother. Together, they began clearing out old papers. They sorted through books. They organized supplies. Mom went shopping for containers and notebooks and folders and all the things that a new teacher might need.

They worked until midnight and then started in again bright and early Tuesday morning. Throughout all this, John was having to attend new-teacher orientation and in-service meetings. And then he was told that open house would start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. SURPRISE!

As John's father was telling this story, John was experiencing his first open house. Dad then told me that he had a new-found appreciation for teachers. He said that never knew all that a teacher was expected to do. He didn't realize that teaching was such a small part of a teacher's job. He also didn't realize how much of a teacher's salary goes right back into the classroom. (Most sources put this number at somewhere between $200 and $1000, but many spend much more than this.)

Needless to say, John has been thrown into the lion's den of teaching. John will soon discover that every day of teaching will be frustrating. Every day of teaching will have chaos. Every day of teaching will have some new experience that could never be taught in a college course. Every day John will work harder than he ever has. At some point every day, John will wonder why he decided to become a teacher.

But, every day will also have joy. Every day some student will amaze him. Every day some student will make him laugh. And hopefully, every day, something will happen that helps John remember why he decided to become a teacher and that he'll be happy he made that decision.


  1. Every day is a challenge as a teacher. I've spent hundreds of dollars at the teacher supplies stores. In the beginning, I felt that all of the additional supplies would help me be a better teacher. Now, I know that time, patience, and dedication will help me become a better teacher.