Monday, September 04, 2006

Back To School

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

I've spent the weekend pondering my annual back-to school resolutions (get to school on time, grade papers in a much more timely manner, make writing a more integral part of my course, attend at least one game per sport per season, not to mention the orchestra concerts and plays. . . do all of this while somehow still having a life). I've made all my necessary copies, although that will not prevent me from having dreams throughout tonight's fitful sleep that I've actually forgotten to do so. I've picked out my back to school outfit, which sadly involves neither flip-flops nor tank-tops nor skirts made out of t-shirts. I've completed the first powerpoint presentation of the year which contains a mere 19 slides, including one of this guy

as a segue into a required lesson about the school's rules, two of which are no hats and (duh) no weapons.

And despite the fact that a guy with a coyote on his head is FUNNY, I guaran-damn-tee you not one of those kids will laugh.

Which is why I hate the first day of school. My whole m.o. as a teacher is based on the relationship I've built with my students. On the first day of school -- for the first couple weeks, really -- you don't have that. What you have is a room full of kids who haven't quite figured out whether their teacher will punish them for laughing at her, whether it's cool to think their teacher is funny, or whether this will be the kind of classroom where the cool kids are allowed to make fun of the uncool kids. (For the record it's no, yes, and no.)

So while I'm not exactly looking forward to the first DAY of school, I am looking forward to a new school year and to building those relationships with a new group of students.

And since posting poems seems to be all the rage among the blogging teacher set, I give you this poem by the wonderful Taylor Mali as my back-to-school prayer (for lack of a better word).

Undivided Attention

A grand piano wrapped in quilted pads by movers,
tied up with canvas straps - like classical music's
birthday gift to the insane -
is gently nudged without its legs
out an eighth-floor window on 62nd street.

It dangles in April air from the neck of the movers' crane,
Chopin-shiny black lacquer squares
and dirty white crisscross patterns hanging
like the second-to-last
note of a concerto played on the edge of the seat,
the edge of tears, the edge of eight stories up going over, and
I'm trying to teach math in the building across the street.

Who can teach when there are such lessons to be learned?
All the greatest common factors are delivered by
long-necked cranes and flatbed trucks
or come through everything, even air.
Like snow.

See, snow falls for the first time every year, and every year
my students rush to the window
as if snow were more interesting than math,
which, of course, it is.

So please.

Let me teach like a Steinway,
spinning slowly in April air, so almost-falling, so hinderingly
dangling from the neck of the movers' crane.
So on the edge of losing everything.

Let me teach like the first snow, falling.


Brian said...

Somehow it doesn't make much sense to begin a new year that operates on a Monday - Friday schedule on a Tuesday. But maybe that's just me.

Meaghan said...

Wow, I wish I had a teacher like you when I was in school. I definitely would have respected them more if I thought they were treating me like a person.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Beautiful poem!

You know, it must be kind of cool getting to work with new people every year. I'm looking around my office right now...

Megan said...

Brian: If I had it my way, we'd start on a Thursday. You know, ease back in.

Meaghan: Awwwwww. . .thanks. :)

Vikki: It IS cool working with new kids every year, but the teachers are usually pretty much the same. And there are some I wouldn't mind never seeing again.

James said...

When I saw this picture, the first think that popped to mind, looking at the furry getup and the upward-pointed rifle, was, "DO IT! DO IT!"

Is that wrong?

Noonan said...

I love the poem. I feel your pain, sister. I, too, hate the first few weeks while they figure out that my craziness is fun/endearing and not just crazy. Soon enough, I guess . . .