Wheew! That was the first day of school for the students, and I am exhausted! Even though we ran a short day it still seemed like a marathon. My voice is not used to doing all that talking, and my feet are not used to doing all that standing. The kids were VERY excited to be back. We always hand out their schedules in the gym before class begins, and they get their first look at their classes, their teachers, which electives they got, and (most importantly if you ask them) which lunch they have. To get a lunch different from your best friend is a heartbreaking travesty that needs correcting RIGHT NOW! I do not envy the councilors and the front office in these first few days. They have the task of dealing with all the kids who are certain that serious mistakes have been made. Fortunately, by the time they released us to our classrooms at least a little of the shrill quality was starting to wear off. Well, that or I had just gone a little deaf from being in the huge echoing gym with all of them.
My first class (actually two because humanities is a block of language arts and social studies together) is a "highly capable" humanities class with thirty students. These are the kids who actually had trouble deciding when I asked them to write down five good books they read last year. They are very dedicated, very sweet, and also very highly strung. My job with them is to present interesting challenges, but also to help them keep a sense of perspective. Neither perfection nor ulcers are required to get into a great college.
My next class is a study skills class for kids who have had serious problems being successful in school. There are only nine kids in this class, and the idea behind it is that they get some serious one-on-one attention. I will be teaching them some organizational skills, some basic editing, some reading strategies, and other goodies. However, I think my primary job is to sit on their heads and make sure they do the work.
My last class is made up almost entirely of squirrels. I'm not sure if they are of the native or invasive variety, but they are definitely going to climb the walls. This is another humanities block, and its purpose is to help kids who have demonstrated problems with reading, writing, and other skills. This is supposed to be a class for kids who try hard, but have difficulty with the subject matter and the pace at which it is normally presented. In reality, I also get saddled with a few knuckleheads who just don't want to work. I can handle both types of kids, but the knuckleheads do take up an unfair portion of the time. Luckily, I have an assistant in this class, so I get some help with all the head sitting.
One kid in my afternoon class said "one day down and 179 to go" when the bell rang today. I try not to think about it that way. I can't say I'm ever overjoyed when my vacation is over (who is?), but there are many good and exciting things about being back in school. For example, life is never boring when you are teaching a class full of squirrels.