SOL: First Night Jitters

Classes started tonight! Yes, I’m excited about it, but it’s also completely nervous-making. The first class is always a little rough. I don’t know who I’ve got, what the group will feel like, if people will suspend disbelief and ennui and just jump in with the activities I have for them. What if no one laughs at my lame and foolish jokes?!

I have mostly new students, but even some of the new students are old students: three of them are in classes at my day job … and will be in class with me in the mornings when I start teaching week after next! That will be interesting. Only two of my continuing students showed up tonight, which makes me sad, but maybe the others will come tomorrow.

About mid-way through class, I turned around from writing something brilliant like “opinion is not fact” on the board … and what should I see but several heads in the doorway: Valerie, Jeovany, Desirée and Reina all come up to say hello, to get hugs and kisses, to see how I am. That was nice. I’m glad they’ve all come back. It’s always so hard to know if someone’s going to make it back to school after a hiatus — Valerie and Jeovany took the summer off because both needed to work like crazy — and there are always so many things that pull people out of class. And, too, there are some people who freak out in a new class and let that nervousness keep them away. As much as I love my students, I don’t want the tied to me, don’t want them thinking they can’t be in class if I’m not going to be their teacher. I want them to think about coming up to say hi every once in a while, but I want them to move on. I want them to get attached to their next teacher, and the one after that. I want them to keep moving forward.

That’s not so much a problem that I’ve seen at my night job. I see that a lot in my day program, saw it a lot in the literacy program I used to teach in. And that makes me wonder if there’s something we as teachers are or aren’t doing that makes that kind of clinging happen. Not in every case, but in some cases. I got really close to Valerie and Jeovany and, to a lesser degree, Reina. I worried a little that their connection to me could have become a problem. So it was especially nice to see that our being close isn’t getting in the way of them moving on.

I did one of my usual first-night exercises with my new group — I have each student write three questions for me that have nothing to do with class. No matter how many times I do this exercise, people still surprise me. Tonight I got the question: “Can we be friends outside of school?” Oh my. We’re off and running.

At the end of the night Zoraida and Sandy came up to say hi, too, and that was a great way to end the first day.

_____

SOLSC Logo is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.

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5 thoughts on “SOL: First Night Jitters

  1. Stacie,
    I can always get right into your Slices and feel like I’m back in my teaching life, struggling with some of the same issues, in my own way. This school opening took me right back to the first day of school, melding the new and former students into my school year.
    I loved teaching in a 8-12 building, watching them grow dramatically.
    Have a great year. Looking forward to being along with you,
    Bonnie

  2. I think the issue of boundaries that you bring up, relative to clinging and to wanting to be friends outside of school, is such an important one. Often some of the most vulnerable kids and adults have no real concept of what a boundary is,or that they or others might have them or need them. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this!

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