As I read it, I was reminded of when I was about to head off to my own classroom. This was in the days before Harry Wong and I was truly at a loss about how to begin the school year. I understood (rightly or wrongly) how to teach a lesson on something, but how do you get to the "something"? One of my supervising teachers was nice enough to put together a two-page "plan" for the first day. I don't remember all of the things that were on it, but I do remember some of the common sense advice.
- Wear a lot of deodorant. I can't emphasize that enough. Never let them see you sweat.
- Be sure to have on a comfortable underwear. You don't want to be pulling at your clothing. You'll feel self-conscious and kids notice everything.
- Schedule way too many things to do. Don't give kids the opportunity to think that they will have any "down time."
There were lots of other things, too. How to check out textbooks. Ideas for seating charts. What sorts of information to collect from students. How to structure the syllabus and talk about rules and procedures with kids. It was a wonderful tool for me to have as I started out.
I have since altered these plans to better suit my own style, of course, but I haven't forgotten the way it felt to be a newbie as those first students walked into my classroom. This may be the last year that I teach and as I approach this last introduction to the year, things feel a bit bittersweet. Even after 15 years of opening the year, there's still a lot of nervous energy. I guess I better to remember that extra deodorant.