Sunday, September 4, 2011

Teaching Legs

For Friday, September 2, 2011

Each September when we return to teaching, my husband and I say we have not yet gotten our “teaching legs” back. We come home at the end of the school day, exhausted mentally and physically. We fall asleep quickly at night and as Labor Day weekend approaches, we find it tough to go anywhere, wanting to crash on the couch as if we’ve been running marathons for days straight.

Teachers often speak of having feelings of anxiety or excitement that keeps them from getting a good night’s sleep the night before school begins. I rarely have those sleeping problems but I do know that I have a heightened awareness in wanting to make an honest connection with each class that enters my classroom for the first time. Knowing this “first impression” I am making can hurt or help my rapport with each class, I try to relax and just be myself but I find myself “on stage” and wondering whether or not the audience is enjoying the show. Am I smiling enough? Am I smiling too much? Am I making eye contact with each student? Are my jokes stupid or funny? Am I trying to hard? Not trying hard enough? Did I scare them? Did I come off as a softy? It’s silly, I know, and in the following days and weeks, we’ll all get to know one another in authentic ways, but the phrase, “You never get another chance to make a first impression” always hits home with me, and I sometimes worry that I might lose someone and never get him or her back if I’m not careful. You’d think I was new to this. But no, I’ve been doing this for 21 years now.

Tonight I got home and felt that “Friday Night Coma” coming on. I fought the urge for a short time and cleaned the kitchen, did some laundry, and made spaghetti for supper. But before it was even 8 o’clock, I was saying goodnight to everyone and heading upstairs to bed. The first week of school had done it again! I’d hit the wall. Thankfully, I’d have three full days at home to recover before returning for week two.

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