Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Slice of Life: First Day of School Rambles

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, BethAnna, Kathleen, and Deb
                    for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

I'm retired.  It's my second year of retirement, and today is the first day of school.  Last year, my good friend threw a party for me on the first day of school.  I'm continuing to work on my teaching files today.  I wish I were the kind of person who could pitch it all, but I can't.  I dealt with the books first.  But the paper piles are overwhelming. So I've been slowly sorting, culling, and filling boxes with papers to file (mostly because I rarely got them filed during a school year).  This past week, I consolidated my teaching files to two long lateral file drawers in the garage from several different places.  I've decided that all the papers I want to keep have to fit in those two drawers.  I emptied one box last week and allocated two days (yesterday and today) to emptying the next box.  Things are starting to get tight in the file drawers, so my next step will probably be to purge some of those files before bringing any more boxes from the spare bedroom to the garage.  The end is definitely in sight.  I only have one very full box of poetry stuff, a box of lit circle stuff, and a box of slice of life stuff.  The tough part - those boxes are filled with some of my favorite stuff.  Sigh!

But here's some of the the fun stuff I found this morning in my first 30 minute work session in the garage.

These golden lines from the book Something to Hold  by Katherine Schlick Noe:
"Summer turns the last corner and runs head-on into the long school year.  Suddenly I'm sitting at the kitchen table in a new school dress, picking at pancakes."  
And two pages later:
"I take a deep breath and tell myself.  Today's the first day of school everywhere.  All you have to do is look for somebody standing all alone, smiling.  Better yet, somebody scared spitless.  Go say hi.  Simple as that."  

And these words from a middle school teacher Lou Orfanella in his essay, "Free of Finals":
"As each new school year begins, I feel unsettled until I know the names and personalities of the individual bodies I'll be spending time with every day . . . By the end of the school year, they will have laughed and cried with us.  Loved and hated us.  Obeyed and defied us.  We will have seen them healthy and peaked, bubbling with energy and drained with fatigue.  They often ignore us, but once in a while, they are momentarily moved - or even forever changed - by something we do or say.
Each September, we need to rededicate ourselves to showing our students that they are capable of learning and doing."

And this example of a favorite first day assignment:

We posted the birthday cupcakes on the whiteboard at the beginning of each new month. Summer birthdays were celebrated on their half birthdays.  We sang Happy Birthday and each student chose a new pencil or bookmark from my gift caddy.  I found the template a long time ago in a Mailbox magazine.  Remember those?

And so, another school year begins.  I'll be substituting some of the time.  In fact, I'll be there on Thursday and Friday this week filling in for a friend in the front office.  It's the best way for me to see most of my friends since almost everyone comes into the office at some point during the day.  And my last group of sixth graders are now eighth graders.  Some of them will stop by to say hello too!  Oh, and my book club members from last year will pop in too.  Best way ever to stay connected - run an after school book club!


  1. What a great trip down memory lane, Ramona. I sense a wistfulness in your words. I love that you held on to so much 'stuff.' I can imagine it's hard to let go.

  2. I imagine that the best stuff is that which is memory laden - where you can literally see the faces of students and hear their voices. Love those quotes - they capture that magic of a new school year beginning.

  3. Love that you're going through and finding some gems to keep, & share with us. Love the quotes. It would have been a joy to teach with you, Ramona. BUT-keep at it!

  4. I started my third year of retirement today - and I still haven't dealt with most of my books! I did sort through and got rid of much of my files but some are just so hard to get rid of. I have given myself a goal of Christmas to deal with all the books. Loved the passages you posted. A lovely post.

    1. Beverly, I fear I've misled you. When I said I dealt with the books first, I only meant that I got them out of boxes and onto bookshelves. I still need to begin purging them, but that's a task for another year.

  5. Oh...I so wish we could have taught together, as Linda said above! But, alas, as I look at what I have stashed and dashed in the 22 years prior to this one...eek...I will have my work cut out for me when retirement comes. Love your ideas of staying connected and getting your "teacher fix". Teach on, dear, teach on!

  6. Such beautiful "golden lines" Ramona! I can completely relate to the struggle of purging, but you could do as my mother taught me, "When in doubt, throw it out." :)

    1. Jennifer, I may have to make a mini poster of that for my work table in the garage! :)