First Day of School

Some years we still feel the ferocity of summer, blazing hot. Some years, the day dawns blue, cool, and a refreshing wind of autumn whistles in. This year, it flooded. Cold, gray, and wet, wet, wet. The kind of day that makes you want to curl up with a good book, a cozy blanket, and some hot cocoa. Convocation was in the beige-walled gym, not outside under a canopy of green. We all felt muted, muffled, a little more tired. Oh well.

The school still fills with the anxious energy of hundreds of students. I have a measured pace the first week, not too heavy a prep, but I always come home exhausted, I think mainly because we teachers absorb all that energy, all those jitters, in the building. A school is like an enormous engine; with great energy, we must get the year started, the routines in place, the students settled, the classes running smoothly. And by October, with luck, the engine runs smoothly.

As much as I wish I could remain in summer, remain in a freefall from routine, I do love getting to jump in Beowulf by week’s end. Nothing like being haunted by monsters from the past. But more on that when we start in on the poem.

For now, a wish list for the year:

  1. Enough sleep.
  2. Ease and speed in grading
  3. Keeping up–no pile of 70+ essays to grade over winter break
  4. Students taking intellectual risks
  5. Refreshed essay questions on tests
  6. Swimming 3 times a week
  7. Fun in class, and a sense of humor all year
  8. Balance (for several years I went out for pizza with a former student in August before she headed off to college. She would ask about my goals for the year, and I mentioned balance and not getting swamped by the grading. Her reply, “You said that last year too.” Well, I guess we can always keep dreaming!)
Here’s a picture from a year when the first day shone.
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