Greg, June, and I are officially back to school. Summer, what's that? It's long gone by this point. Greg and I had meetings Friday, Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday was the first official day. June and I got to stay home on Wednesday, but yesterday we were back in action.
The day started off at Kinderbeets (the daycare) downstairs at the school where we dropped June off. I had been kind of nervous about leaving her as she has been especially clingy since we got home from our cruise. It was funny though, it was like June hadn't forgotten kinderbeets at all in her ten week absence. She looked around, looked at the day care leaders, and was like "yah, I love this place." She happily played with the toys, played with the other kids, and sat at the big table with the big girls like a total champ. I went in to visit her during lunch to make sure everything was okay and it was kind of like, "mom, can you go now? I'm chilling with my friends." Sheesh. They grow up fast, don't they? (Also she spilled all over her cute back to school jumper within ten minutes and spent the rest of the day wearing a striped boys football onesie. You win some you lose some.)
In the mean time, I darted off to my classroom to get seating charts ready for first period. I have no prep period this year. It really isn't too bad teaching four classes in a row, but the hard part is having everything ready to teach four classes in a row. First period wandered in... regular eleventh grade English. I love teaching eleventh grade. I've told you guys before, but 11th grade is the sweet spot of high school. They totally know the system, the rules, the school, but they are not so antsy to get out of there as seniors. And I LOVE teaching American Literature, so juniors are everything I ever hope to get out of my teaching career. Seriously, give me juniors until the day I diiiiiiiiiiiiie.
First period students were sweet as can be. I was shocked that 45 minutes into the classroom not one kid had gotten his cell phone out. Usually I see a phone in the first three minutes. They seemed immediately comfortable with each other and with me and were so respectful and kind. We did introductions, went over rules, had a short quiz, and boom the class was over.
Next came second period- AP Literature. The great thing about AP is you don't have to spend a lot of time going over rules and other first day hoops. We spent ten minutes going over rules, and then I had them do something that the presenter did at the AP Lit conference I went to this summer. I had them all share their name and a piece of literature that is important to them in some way. It was so fun to hear their answers and such a cool way to start the year, with everyone celebrating reading and learning. Several kids mentioned they don't have big enough book shelves or they can't choose just one book to share. These kids are speaking my love language, and I love that there is a safe place in the school for them to really revel in their inner book nerd.
After that we dove right in to Lord of the Flies. No time to spare! We started the first ten pages together. I always love showing the characters in that book, how Golding initially refers to Ralph only as "the fair boy" and Piggy only as "the fat boy" and we talked about his purpose in doing so. Why are the physical descriptors the first thing the author tells us, even before the names? It was fun to see kids wrestle with this, and those kids are smart, I tell you. I had to do hardly any prompting at all before they were saying all the right things, "He's establishing a hierarchy from the beginning" "He wants us to know that the way these boys look will determine what happens to them much more than their names" "He wants us to see the uneven playing field in the jungle." YES YES YES.
Second period was over before I knew it had begun and Greg was in my room ready to go to lunch with me. There is nothing better than sharing a lunch with your husband and I will savor it as long as I can. We ate and joked with other teachers before running down to say hi to June, but as you already know, she didn't give us the time of day.
Third period was AP Lit again, this time a smaller and somewhat quieter group. That's okay though, most of the time the quietest ones are saving all their brilliance to surprise you with later. I was kind of discouraged when a favorite student wasn't in the class even though I knew he had signed up last year. I asked his friend and she said he had dropped because he was afraid it was going to be too much work. That made me sad, but it is not uncommon. I talked to the kids a little bit about the class and the expectations of it. "This class is definitely work," I told them, "I would be lying to you if I said it was going to be easy all the time. But I am not afraid of work. And I hope you aren't either. All the best things in my life are work. This job is work, my marriage is work, being a mom is work, taking care of my home and family is work. But these are the things that bring the most amount of joy in my life, and I know it is worth the work. This class is work, and it will be worth the work. On test day you'll look back and think 'Man, that was a lot of work', but you are going to learn and grow so much because of it, and the things you'll learn in this class will affect the rest of your life. Don't quit because someone says it's going to be work. Do not be afraid of work!"
And then six kids dropped the class.
I kid I kid. (I hope.)
Fourth period was the last group to fill the seats. They are regular eleventh grade English so we did the same drill as we did first period. Lots of boys in the class, and lots of kids who don't speak English as their first language. Every year I have more and more students who are English Language Learners. I feel for them because being in a different country and learning a whole new language is so hard and so taxing. There was also a sweet little foreign exchange student from Taiwan and I missed our sweet Agathe.
And that's a wrap! First day of school in the books before I had realized it had begun. Not having a prep is definitely challenging, but there was something I actually liked about it, the day seemed shorter than my days with a prep. It's always hard for me to start up work again once I've taken a break, so I kind of liked the go go go, now you're done. Again, the planning and grading will be difficult, but I'll just have to find a system that works for me.
2015-2016 school year, you are hereby commenced!