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Back to School: A Teacher’s Perspective

Preparations can last all summer.

I leisurely sip coffee at my desk on the first day of school when students begin filing in- and they just keep coming by the thousands. I suddenly realize I don’t have first hour planning finished, I don’t have a syllabus and I can’t get the kids to sit down and be quiet.

This is the first of many dreams that begin for me about a month before school even starts. In reality, there is never time to leisurely sip a cup of coffee at my desk.

I begin getting ready for the school year before the current school year is over. There are meetings for redesigning curricula and collaboration about what was effective and what needs improvement. Common Core Standards are fairly new to education and also need to be reviewed and implemented.

I have used time this summer to prepare for the upcoming school year. I have read nonfiction, cleaned and organized curriculum binders and researched Web 2.0 lessons. I have created and edited classroom web pages, policies and syllabi.

I will continue work on lesson plans the week before school. This involves making sure I have daily focus activities, lesson objectives, guided practice, independent practice and a reflection activity. I have outlined semester lessons and will develop at least two weeks of lessons in advance of school starting.

I had to move classrooms this year and have spent hours moving furniture, unpacking, organizing and decorating my new classroom. I try to set up the classroom from a student perspective by sitting in different places in the classroom and looking around.

I will spend time the week before school attending professional development courses and district in-services. Some of the courses involve how to utilize Thinking Maps, Podcasts and Reader’s/Writer’s Notebooks. I will be updated about district information and receive training for the new telephone system as part of the in-service. 

I have purchased new school clothes, but I will save money by doing my own pedicure and manicure. I also make sure to have a fresh hairstyle and I am blessed to have a best friend who is a professional hairdresser. I have also taken care of doctors’ appointments so I won’t have to take time away from the classroom.

My husband, daughter and I rarely go on vacation over the Labor Day weekend. I feel I need this time to be home to relax and be with family. We all know that when school starts, I will spend anywhere from 55 to 70 hours a week with students, lesson planning and grading.

Each school year is a new beginning; it’s not like going back to a job after a vacation. There are new schedules, students, lessons, curricula, technologies, policies and employees.

I won’t be able to sleep much the week before school because there will be constant images of lessons in my head. I will also be thinking about my new set of students and what we will learn from each other.

But now the day is here, and this is no dream, school is back in session!

Donna Wettig Hitz September 06, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Like most parents, I have one child to send you. Her father and I have spent 15 years preparing her for this first day of her sophomore year. We've taught her the love of learning, the value of hard work, diligence, and respect for herself and others. We hope we have prepared her to sit in your classroom and learn what you have to teach her this year. We hope for your sake and all your hard work, Teacher, everyone is ready to learn.
Linda September 06, 2011 at 10:47 PM
I've been teaching for 20 years and still, I never feel totally ready for the first day. And those dreams of the worst day ever? They continue to haunt me every summer. But after today, I'm able to breathe again and I look forward to tomorrow!
stephanie pytlowanyj September 07, 2011 at 01:21 PM
I've been a professional nurse for thirty plus years. A typical day was a 12 hour shift, with a hour's drive to/from work. At work I knew the day would be without a break and I'd be lucky if I'd get a minute to use the restroom. Typically I'd have 1, possibly 2 patients on life support. I was responsible for the physical care of the patient and emotional support of the family. After getting report, first thing in the AM, I'd walk into the patients room to typically be facing 7 IV pumps, cardiac monitoring, ventilator, foley, NGT or feeding tube, and SCD's. If it was a burn patient I was caring for, I could look forward to a dressing change that could take up to 4 hour's. I'd be drenching in sweat afterwards. If it was a trauma patient I had the infamous "road trip" to look forward to. A "road trip" meant combing all equipment, as much as possible, and taking the patient off the unit for a CT scan, or MRI, or interventional radiology. The necessary resuscitation box was taken along too. The box contained drugs, etc., in the event the patient cardiac/resp arressted. I have done CPR on patients in some interesting places...elevator, radiology etc., During the road trip I would continue to give meds, suction the patient, etc., So a road trip wasn't vacation time, it was really hard physical and mental work. The job also came with mandatory staff meetings, CEU's to obtain, and commitees to sit on. All of the above is why I've decided to teach nursing.
Linda September 09, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Teaching adults is a lot different from teaching kids. And teaching in a K-12 setting involves tons of paperwork beyond grading papers, curriculum work, a lot of "counseling," mandatory staff meetings, school improvement meetings, committee meetings, extra-curricular involvement, etc. My typical day is 9 hours at school and another 1-2 at home, plus weekends. But with all of this, I would never trade seeing those bright, beautiful teen faces and the emotional connections I have made with them.

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