Back in the Saddle

Welcome back to another school year!

The year kicks off with the usual jitters – will they like me? Will I like them? Will I say or do something awkward that will mar me for the rest of the school year, and result in an embarrassing nickname that I won’t be able to shake? The back to school outfit is scrutinized – it needs to be professional, stylish, comfortable, and resistant to any possible mishaps that would result in the aforementioned mar and nickname. Shoes are critical – the first few days of school are spent giving many tours, finding classrooms for new students, opening stubborn lockers, and going to and from and to and from the office and photocopy room. By the end of day one, my feet were blistered, I had talked for over an hour giving four consecutive 20 minute “welcome to class and here’s what it’s about” speeches, and been told by the photocopier that I had “insufficient funds” and so my job was deleted. And I was in love.

For some students, it takes more than one day. But for some, it takes only a few hours of their smiling little (or sometimes pudgy) faces and sparkling personality for me to feel that familiar twang that I know will result in unabashed love, of the students and of my job. My throbbing feet were somehow eased when a student thanked me for helping him find his classroom. My scratchy voice didn’t matter so much when I overheard a student say of me, “You have Evenson for English? Oh, she’s good.” My latent desire to push the photocopiers off a bridge was momentarily forgotten as I witnessed a Grade 10 boy extend his hand and offer to show a Grade 9 boy where the woodshop was.

I’m well aware that this is the honeymoon phase. But it’s a necessary phase. I will look back on this week in the cold of November – when lessons I was excited for have flopped, when students I like have clearly established it is not mutual, when hearing “you never taught us that” results in tiny rage blackouts – and I will find the desire to teach another day. I will rework my lesson plans, keep smiling at the students who roll their eyes at me, and explain once again what ‘infer’ means. But I may still push the photocopier off a bridge.

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