My First Day

I woke up at 5:30 and I don't know if I got more than an hour's worth of solid sleep. Having the chain-smoking father of your best friend drive you to the 4 train at 6:15 in the morning, while chatting away in a thick New Yorker's accent is a surreal experience. Even more so when you're straddling intense nausea and panic. I can remember the panic vividly now, but when I'm trying to recall everything I felt after I first picked up my class in the auditorium it's a blur.

The kids starting filing into the auditorium slowly a little after 8. Outside in the front of the school building it was a madhouse as parents and their children struggled to find their class assignment and make their way into the building. I did my best to present myself as a firm, knowledgeable and experienced presence as I started gathering my kids. I knew I only had one chance to make a first impression, and in teaching just like anything else if not more, the first impression can make or break the whole year.

Throughout the course of the day there were a lot of ups and downs. The first half ran somewhat more smoothly as I had more than enough getting to know you, English Language Arts lessons and explanations of rules, routines and procedures to get by. Before I knew it was lunch time. It was after lunch, when the kids were rowdier and I was struggling with a few math lessons gone awry that things really got hairy.

By the time my class of 15 (about half of what I expect to have by next week) and I made it into the last hour I was constantly asking for their attention, although I'm not sure what for. I wasn't operating on any real plan by then and was basically just killing time (We spent an absurd amount of time going over homework, especially considering I'd made the assignment up on the spot) until I could pass out my certificates of appreciation for completing the first day and send them home.

In the end I still felt a huge sense of relief and accomplishment. Tomorrow will be just as long and difficult and exhausting as today and the day after, but the first day is done, and I'm ready to get some sleep.


My stomach hurts just reading this. I have so much respect for you. I can't believe how hard this year will be. I had a funny dream about your new pad on the East Side and if it's 1/2 as sweet as it is in my dreamland, you'll have a safe and supportive (and fun) place to return to. Keep up the act and pretty soon you'll feel as confident as you seem (see Sound of Music soundtrack for details....).

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