Today students will walk into room 122 for the start of my tenth year as a middle school teacher. I will stand at the door, anxious for a year of smart, funny, and slightly annoying eighth graders. I don’t think you ever lose the butterflies, no matter how many times you have the first day of school. It is, and will always be, exciting and nerve-wracking.
This year I feel expectant in a way I haven’t before. I can sense a shift has happened recently–a move that I can’t quite name–but I know it will make my classroom look different this year. I will look different this year. Not physically, because other than a summer tan, I look the exact same as I did in May when I said goodbye to last year’s students. But inside things feel more alive, more calm, more focused, more patient, and more caring.
I feel more.
I’ve been praying about the school year, praying for my students. I teach hard kids, kids that have seen too much, know too much of the wrong things, and have lost too much. Years ago I had to figure out how to love them from a distance because loving them up close was exhausting and painful. I couldn’t handle all their chaos and be healthy. But now I think it’s time for me to get back in. I’m stronger and ready, capable in a way I haven’t been before.
This morning before the buses arrive, I’ll walk around my classroom praying for the students that will soon fill my seats. I’ll ask God for open hearts, kind words, and hard workers. For me, I’ll ask for patience, compassion, and endurance. Because today I’m fresh and ready for them, but by February I will be worn and tired. I will forget the electric feeling of the first days of school, and we’ll be settled into a routine that can feel suffocating. So I’ll pray for February today, too. I’ll pray for energy when the dreary winter days set in, I’ll pray for eyes to see what students really need from me, and I’ll pray for time to give them the attention they all deserve.
This year I want a classroom filled with laughter, good books, and maybe a few tears because great literature moves you. I’m planning to teach my advanced kids how to blog and makes millions. I’ll make readers out of the kids who have never read a book to completion before. I’m going to drill the rules for their, there, and they’re into their heads so we can start cleaning up painful Facebook and Instagram posts. And I’m going to teach everyone to put their names on their papers, so help me God.
Welcome to my classroom, class of 2020. I’m so glad you’re here.