Tomorrow, I will shave my legs, put on a skirt, don my ID badge, and return to my job.
I have been procrastinating something awful for the last two weeks, doing all sorts of things to distract me from the days slipping away, trying to quell the panic welling up inside of me, the panic that tells me I’m not ready for school to start. Students don’t arrive until August 26th, but faculty start back tomorrow. I have to go back to the days of programming the coffee pot, setting the alarm clock, and stocking up on easy dinner options when neither of us feel like cooking. As my soldier husband would say sarcastically, Hooah.
I’ve accomplished most of my summer to-do list, including both fun things (weddings, travel, reading) and the mundane (dentist visit, oil change, cleaning garage). I don’t really have anything left to do except school stuff. I have no more excuses. I need to plan out my syllabus, finish the reading list, start grading the summer reading, finish organizing my classroom, and plan for staff development (I’m teaching two sessions: Google Docs and Prezi). It’s not really as overwhelming as I feel it is, but I’m seriously struggling to get myself in work mode.
I never had this problem as a student – I loved going back to school. It never felt like work. Last week, I received an email from a student that I swear was something I would have written at 16. He was working on the summer reading assignment, and was having problems writing his 15 peer responses on the message boards, because not enough of his peers had written anything to respond to. He wrote a second email asking if he could do more than the 5 required 250-word responses to the text. Above and beyond, and school hasn’t even started yet. I used to be that kid. Now, I’m someone who logged 40 hours on the Xbox in the last week to avoid real-world duties. What happened? And how do I retrieve my back-to-school excitement?
Thankfully, I have a wealth of amazing teachers around me who have started the conversation about all the awesome things they are going to do. Our district Facebook page offered a contest for teachers to post about how they were going to use technology this year. Pinterest has been awash with cool ideas for the classroom, and I did spend a happy half hour perusing the back-to-school ads in Sunday’s paper. Nearly everyone in my department is teaching a new or different class, so all of us are figuring out new things. While it would have been nice to be able to fine-tune my curriculum from last year, it’s also going to be very exciting to do something new, and to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Remembering that will help me keep the right frame of mind. Not teaching as a job but teaching as a challenge.
Two things today have me getting excited to go back to school. One is an excellent blog post called What I Want the Parents of My Students to Know from Petals of Joy. While it’s of a more serious nature, it also reminds me why my job is so important and worthwhile. Please check it out!
Second, I rewatched one of my favorite movies today, You’ve Got Mail. It has so many wonderful things in it, but some of my favorites include Meg Ryan’s character describing to a T my excitement for the English language, and one line that has always stuck with me. Tom Hanks was writing to his yet-unknown love in an email, and he told her, “I’d send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I only knew where you lived.” I’ve always felt that a bouquet of sharpened pencils was a romantic gesture.