My First Day Back


I don’t have a photo that would do justice to the state of my classroom after a three-week absence, but this image comes close. This is the same classroom that I left spic and span because we’d just had open house, when I cleaned it up really well. Today every desk was smudged with writing, there were pens and crayons and candy wrappers and wads of paper under every table, all kind of interspersed with glitter. Yeah, so no personal photo for this little post.

I got up early enough, and headed out to school. I had something of an idea of what we’d be doing in class, but knew that the reality would in all likelihood differ a great deal from my plan. After such a long absence, we’d have to talk about things. As I walked to my classroom I felt the suspicious stares – Is she really back? Soon I was nearly knocked over by the hugs from my ponytail Hmong girls. “You’re back!! We missed you so much – we love you so much!!” It was heartwarming. The classroom was instantly filled with little bodies, just hanging around talking. It was overwhelming and heartwarming at the same time.

Then the bell rang and the rest of them came in. The twenty-three boys and seven girls. The really loud and self-absorbed twenty-three boys. And seven girls. Sigh. I had and lost their attention more times than I can count in that first few minutes. Joel, compassionate (today, miraculously) Joel, finally shouted, “Hey, she’s not a sub!! Be quiet!” That was nice, but had no affect whatsoever, other than to make me laugh for a second. Finally Dominique arrived, late as usual and wanted to know all about my mom’s death, and her funeral service and my trip to Mexico. She managed to shut her colleagues up long enough to get the scoop, and then joined them in their revelry.

After spending the entire first period explaining and re-explaining the T-dap vaccination clinic to be held at school tomorrow, and explaining that their having this vaccination was not optional, and after explaining what it meant to have a library fine amnesty, I decided maybe they could do a little work. Just finish the personal shields they began sometime when I was gone. I thought it was just too over the top to start anything new today so maybe bringing closure to something they had already begun would be good. Turns out it was too over the top to do much of anything.

Wait – I do this why? It’s not for the money, that’s for sure. Definitely not for the convenient hours – nights, weekends as well as the five days a week are a necessity if one is to be caught up and prepared. It’s not for the stimulating interaction between this teacher and her cooperative students, so why again do I do it? This post does not end with an answer. It ends with a prayer. Please, please let tomorrow remind me of why I love teaching because today I can’t remember.

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6 thoughts on “My First Day Back

  1. Mimi says:

    Beautiful reflection, Lynn…sometimes it’s the tough days & tough moments what we remember the most…but I’m convinced your dedication and compassion and the passion you hold for teaching will last for generations to come…sending you lots of hugs and lots of happy wishes for more successful days of teaching 🙂

  2. dochorsetales says:

    I hear you. In a way, those moments of reflection on why we are where we are remind me of the sharp focusing with the camera lens, finding just the point of pollen collection, positioning it just off-center, respecting the peripheral vision, all allowing visitations by the muse.

  3. kathryn the thriftyschoolmarm says:

    I’m sorry that your first day back wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I think that it’s important to remember that you do it for those girls who came up and hugged you, and the ones who wanted to know about your absence. You do it for the connections and the impact they can have. Things will settle quickly I’m sure, just be patient.

  4. Delaine Zody says:

    Oh, Lord. That kind of day would have me scuttling out of my room and right back home. This sounds like October, not May. I can only assume junior high kids are just awful, no matter what time of the year. Hopefully, in the next day or so, they will come to appreciate you and how you manage the class and teach them, versus the subs they had. I gather they didn’t have just one for the long term, but rather a series of subs? That can make it even worse.

  5. dalexich12@comcast.net says:

    Hi, you! Last time I was absent that long I didn’t come back…:) Hmmm…
    So here it is from what I can tell: what makes you amazing is you come back even when you are not fully there and you take the risk to let go of what is supposed to happen. And it’s okay to not know why you’re there in the first place. The year is almost through and your closing has been deep. There’s so much more to say…but I just want you to know that I bow to you! Really.

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