Yesterday, I kept reading tweets and statuses about friends sending their little ones on the first day of school. There were updates about happy tears, sad tears and mostly happy children excited to embark on this new journey of their lives.
It’s been a long time since I had my very first day of school. Don’t worry; I remember it.There were jelly shoes involved. I remember all the happy days of going to school, and I remember the days of tummy aches, bullies and insecurities. All of those days play in my mind like film negatives. Very small, slightly blurred snapshots of my life.
Not only did those stories make me think of my school days, but of the different role I play now. I sometimes think—and I think other teachers have this same disillusioned thought—that we are the zookeepers. We have to keep the students in bounds. We’re there to make the students do really hard stuff. They need to learn. They need to be quiet. They need to remember how to open their lockers.
We forget that they are people. They may be small or really tall, but they’re just little people. They have feelings—no matter how tough their outer shell. Yes, they need to learn responsibility and MLA format and how to open their lockers, but they also need to learn compassion, love, and how to help a neighbor. We’re there to teach them those qualities too. We might be the only example they see. We just don’t know.
It’s exciting to see those updates about very first days of school, but as high school teachers we need to remember that the 10th first day of school, the11th first day of school, and the 12th first day of school are still firsts. There are still things to learn. There are still mistakes to be made.There are still examples to be set. There are still relationships to build.