It appears about the beginning of August, a huge black storm cloud on the horizon. Just as you’re starting to relax enough to sleep past 6:00 A.M., just as the temperature soars to record-breaking levels, you realize that, in a few short weeks, you’ll have to return to school.
The feeling of unease grows steadily as the month progresses. When you drive past the school, in the course of everyday activities, you notice some familiar cars in the parking lot. A few eager beaver teachers have already begun to work: arranging classrooms, taping name tags on desks, and putting up bulletin boards.
The sense of apprehension is now joined by feelings of guilt; you really should be in there too. It would unthinkable to meet those bright, excited little faces on the first day of classes and without being prepared.
Besides, September is likely to be very warm and staying late to do bulletin boards and other first-of-the-year chores, when you’re already hot and tired after working all day, is not an appealing prospect.
The last week of August is crunch time. You reach the stage where staying away is more traumatic than going back. The thought of that first pay-check is the deciding motivator. After two or three strong coffees one morning, you venture to reenter the hallowed hallways for the first time since the end of June.
The first thing you notice is the smell of fresh wax and new text books … nice. Everything is so quiet! You hear a radio playing a snappy tune in the distance. One of your colleagues is working to music, not a bad idea.
As you proceed toward your classrom, you pause briefly at neighboring rooms to greet old friends and catch up on their news. For once, you have time to stop and chat. That will change as soon as school begins. You enjoy the extra moments while you can.
When you open the door to your own closed-up class, the still, warm air welcomes you like a hug. The shelves have been dusted, the blackboards washed, the desks polished and shiny. The room may not yet be ready for the children, but it is very ready for the personal attention of the teacher.
So, you set to work. Every morning for the week before Labor Day you work away at you own pace, energized by toe-tapping tunes on your portable radio. By Friday, you must admit, it looks pretty good.
There are name tags in bright colors, with bold black letters, an Autumn bulletin board which can remain in place until the first snowflake falls, a birthday chart, a calendar, a map of the world, and many other little extras a classroom full of normal, healthy kids will require.
Suddenly, you become aware of giggles and whispers at the open window. Some of your new students have gathered to sneak a peek at you and their new classroom. You walk over and exchange a few words. The sun-kissed faces gaze up at you with excitement, eagerness and trust. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
It is then you remember why you became a teacher. These precious children are the future. You will be with them every weekday for the next ten months, teaching, guiding, supporting and sharing your essence with them. You have an opportunity of changing the future for the better through your influence on them.
It’s a tremendous responsibility, but also an awesome privilege. One last, long weekend of relaxation and then a fresh school year begins. Actually, the sooner we get started, the better. All at once, you have a feeling that this may just be your most successful teaching year yet.