The first day of school is coming for students all across America. If you live in Texas the first day of school for public schools is August 22. Teachers all across the state have been preparing for students to return for the last several days to weeks. Professional development sessions, faculty meetings, department meetings, grade level meetings, and hopefully teachers have had some time to work in their rooms. Anxiety is often high for teachers because they want everything to be in order and perfect for that first day. What about the students?
Yesterday, Saturday August 20, was my first day of school. On August 20 I embarked on a learning journey that will take me several years to complete and yesterday was my first step. Along with fifteen other working professionals in my cohort I completed my first class at Texas A&M University in pursuit of a doctoral degree in school administration. Was I nervous? You bet I was nervous. And anxious. And excited.
I have had many first days of schools in my life. Obviously I had the first days of school as a child going through public school in Monahans, Texas. Each first day was exciting, nerve wracking, and even a bit scary for me because I was not sure of what to expect. All I had to do was show up but when you are a child showing up to a new school with a new teacher and new classmates can seem very daunting. Of course the first day of school process became easier as I grew older and more familiar with the process but I was still nervous.
Yesterday was also "Aggie Move In Day" at Texas A&M so there were Aggies all over the place along with their parents moving into the dorms. This sparked a discussion between my wife and I about our first day of college and we had two different experiences. Her parents were able to go with her and help her get settled in the dorm. For me, it was a good bye when I left town, a collect call home to say I made it with a “I will see you at Thanksgiving” in response. What difference in support do your students have on their first day? Have you accounted for those differences?
Since becoming a student again yesterday I am reminded of the importance of remembering back to what it was like to that critical first day of school. Even for middle school students the first day can be a little scary and certainly full of anxiety. As you are preparing for your first day think about this:
Remember back to what it was like when you were attending your first days of school. What will you do to help reduce the anxiety and nervousness? Will your actions ease that anxiety or will they increase it? How will you account for the different levels of support given to your students from their families? Students know they need to make a good first impression but as the educators, we need to do the same as well.
I do wish you a wonderful first day of school when your day does arrive!
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