Share Your Advice for the First Day of School
Hi AOE readers! Today I’m hoping you will help me inspire all of the brand new art teachers who are ready to start their very first days this fall. In the comments section, I’m asking you to share your first day worries, stories and triumphs. Here’s my first day story…
I remember waking up in kind of a haze. Of course, I hadn’t been able to sleep very well the night before and as I got dressed in my carefully chosen back-to-school outfit, a million thoughts were running through my head.
As excited as I was about meeting the students and trying out my first lesson, doubt and dread soon began to creep into my brain. I began to think about every possible thing that could go wrong that day, starting at the very beginning.
“What if my car doesn’t start? I only have one car! If my car doesn’t start, I can’t even start my first day! I’m definitely getting fired.”
“What if the kids are wild? Someone is probably going to start screaming or running around or throwing things right in the middle of my teaching! What will I do?!”
I don’t know if anyone else has experienced my last worry, but it was very scary and very real, “What if the kids don’t like me?”
After taking some deep breaths, I was able to drive to school in my (fully functioning) car. I walked into my classroom, laid out the supplies for my lesson and nervously waited for my first class to arrive.
This is when something totally hilarious happened. After the first classroom teacher dropped off her class, I was sitting with the students in a circle on the carpet and I remember wondering, “Where is the teacher? Shouldn’t we be starting class already?” immediately followed by, “Oh my gosh, I am the teacher.” I took a deep breath and introduced myself.
From then on, the day went fairly smoothly. Was I nervous? You bet, but I quickly fell into a rhythm as I presented my lessons. The kids were great, my lessons went well and a little girl even told me, “Mrs. Heyn, I love you!” Ha!
I now realize that my thoughts that first morning did not represent my reality. The truth was that my student teaching experiences had been wonderful, veteran teachers had complimented me on my classroom management skills, and I had materials prepped for the entire first month of school. I was ready, but I let myself get caught up in my own untrue stories.
So, my advice to new teachers is this: Honor the hard work you’ve put in preparing for this day. Even if you feel nervous, remind yourself that you are ready. Below is a short exercise you can use to get through some of the first day jitters called “Examining the Evidence.”
Here’s how it goes.
1. Write down a negative thought you have about the first day of school.
Example: I won’t know what to do if someone interrupts my teaching.
2. Next, examine the actual evidence you have of this statement. Chances are, you will be able to list a few things that actually have happened that contradict your thought.
Example: During student teaching, when Johnny was shouting from the back of the class, I used 1-2-3 Magic and he stopped on number 2. OR When I was introducing my lesson about VanGogh and Lisa couldn’t stop bothering Jenny, I switched her seat, which solved the problem.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to new teachers on their first day of school?
Do you have any hilarious/frustrating/enlightening stories to tell about YOUR first day?