I arrive out of breath, unprepared, after the bell has already rung. I was summoned by our school secretary who called when I failed to show up for school. When I arrive at my classroom door (which I needed help finding since I have a new classroom and a new grade level assignment in a new wing), the "substitute grabbed for the moment" has already opened the door. I try to shoo the students back into the hallway, so I can greet them individually at the door, per my usual practice. But there are so many of them!
I have no lesson plans and all my "go-to" first day ideas don't work for this grade level. I muddle my way through the morning until someone arrives to tell us it's time for recess. I step into the hall, eager to connect with three fellow grade level teachers, frantic to know which textbook of the many on the shelves is the right one to begin with. They look at me with judgment in their eyes and little understanding for a colleague who would fail to show up for inservice days and then be late for the first day of school.
Somehow I make it through until lunch when I hope to try once again to connect with my grade level colleagues. And that's when I discover that my lunch time is different from the three of them! I head off in search of our principal, furious of how I've been treated and wanting to know why I didn't receive the summer letter about inservice days and why on earth no one called when I failed to show up for them. She's nowhere to be found.
I return to class, still frantic, but trying my best to muddle through. Someone comes to tell us it's time for afternoon recess. When I step into the hall, I come face-to-face with our principal and I utter three words, " Go to _ _ _ _ !" (and I am not a woman who swears) before I awake with tears streaming down my face.
Every nightmare of classroom management was manifest in my classroom of 30 students.
And my new grade level? Kindergarten!
I'm beginning my eighth year of retirement from teaching middle school language arts and social studies.
One question. Do the first day of school nightmares ever go away?