Every July and August the memes start. You know the ones about teachers trying to get into their classrooms as the school is still being cleaned. (Come on, the school couldn’t be THAT dirty, could it???) While most of us really need that summer break, even if it is spent working other jobs, the knowledge that school is about to start is a rush for two very different reasons.
First, there is that moment when you realize school is only a few days/weeks away and you are just getting into your classroom. Whether you consider yourself crafty or creative or not, there is pressure (whether it comes from within or from school culture) to have the “perfect” classroom. Don’t the kids deserve it? Don’t you deserve to have an environment that is pleasing to you as you go to work every day? There are so many pictures in various teacher groups showing off their finished classrooms. Some of these are theme based, (hello Harry Potter and cactus!) while others are decorated plainly but effectively. Some are lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective) to have hallway bulletin boards or doors to decorate. Some have a wall of windows that leads to less space inside the classroom to fill. Then there is the planning for the school days. This alone can take several days and is made worse if you are changing schools, classrooms, or grade levels.
When my kids were little and came into the classroom with me to decorate, I would spend half a day (about as long as their patience of mom working would last) doing as much as I could for as many days as my admin would let me. I could stretch this out for two weeks ideally. As they got older and I worked on my own, I could still spend two weeks getting everything ready. What this really looked like was the first week of actually working in the classroom. The second week, once my colleagues returned, was full of the latest gossip and catching up. Mind you this was pre-social media and teachers didn’t know anything about what their peers did over the summer anymore than the students. Now we don’t get into our classrooms until maybe a week before class starts. This means decorating/planning/preparing on our own time at the same time we are trying to enjoy those last days of summer. Hence the rush.
The other rush is that feeling you get knowing you are about to start another year. What will your students be like? Will you be the teacher they need? Will they be ready for what you have to teach them? As you sit down to plan out the year, it’s a perfect time to change up what you do. Bring in more tech, start morning meetings, connect with other classrooms around the globe. There are so many possibilities. It’s a chance to get rid of that lesson that really hasn’t been working but you continue to try anyway. Or take a risk and finally try that one thing that has intrigued you. One of the best things about teaching is that you get a fresh start every year. Not sure there are many other careers where this happens. The rush that teachers get on that first day of school, even if it’s partially hidden by nerves, is one of the reasons we get into this profession. It’s also one I hope to never lose, no matter how long I’m teaching.
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching