This morning I will load up my car with all the goodies I bought at Target and such, and head down to school to start preparing my room for the new school year. I will be walking into a mess of boxes, furniture and unopened supplies which, within a few hours, will begin to look like a place of learning and engagement. It has been a wonderful summer, and I still have another glorious week, but the teacher-beast in me is awakening, yawning, stretching and proclaiming, “Another school year, bring it on!” Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I can’t wait.
In June, I am usually done. That’s it, I have nothing left to give, school is over just in time because I’m shutting down from the inside out and top to bottom. I have just spent ten months planning and implementing a year’s worth of academic, social and emotional growth with a mass of squirmy youth. It takes it all out of me. It will be a couple of weeks into July before I start feeling human again. I am not exaggerating- September to June is a locomotive train running on caffeine and pure adrenaline. It’s a fine ride, but when it’s over I am truly out of gas.
Once I am in full summer mode, I coast for a few weeks, busying myself with all of the acitivity I have no time for during the school year. Deep cleaning, and organizing the closets; visiting friends and relatives; helping hubby with his business; shopping; museums; hiking, rollerblading and running; beaching; writing; it’s a more laid-back busy-ness but it feels like a fulltime job. I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. When the Back-to-School stuff goes up on the shelf and the ads begin at the end of July, I find it irkesome and irritating- I’m nowhere near ready to even begin to think about school.
But something starts to happen to me in the middle of August, even while I am embroiled and embroiling in summer actitivites. I start to get a little tickle in my stomach, and I start to think a teeny tiny bit about September. I try to push it away because I want to enjoy my days and evenings to the fullest, resting up my body and mind for another round (Round 30 to be exact, a milestone year!). But it starts sneaking in anyway. I find myself really looking at the little ones I see everywhere-the beach, the town, the friends’ pools, the stores; watching them closely and thinking about their actions and their words, and I begin to get a teeny tiny bit excited about another school year.
And now it’s August 27th, my new babies will soon be running in, dragged in crying, pushed in shyly, walking in confidently or, in a few cases, carried in and dumped into the classroom. I want it to be ready. I want the room to be a warm, welcoming, reassuring place that will grow into a second home. This is kindergarten- the very first year of a twelve-year journey through the public school system. This is the year that will point the direction for the rest of that journey. In my opinion, it is the most important year because the kids will either learn to love school and learning, or…I shudder to think…hate it, and then spend the next twelve years fighting it and spiraling into unhappy waters. You can think I am being over-dramatic, but the kindergarten year is just like a first impression of someone you meet. You either like a person from the beginning, or at least feel neutral about her or him, or you feel dislike and discomfort everytime you meet. That’s kindergarten, only you are there for 180 days, and then for the next twelve years you dread each morning. Horrible thought. Big responsibility. Can’t wait- here I go!
“I’ve come to the frightening conclusioin that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” – Dr. Hiam Ginott