Today is the first day of school. It’s hard to believe that summer break has come and gone. I wish I could say that summer was over, but apparently it is not. In Arizona, summer doesn’t really end. The winter in Phoenix is not dissimilar to the early part of summer in Maine. For much of June, we had temperatures in the 60s up here.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.
The first day of school is something pretty magical. I know many of you will cringe at that idea, but it is full of possibility. We have 180 days to mold young minds and today is day one. I am ready.
My role this year is very different than last year. Last year at this time, I have to admit, I was shitting my pants a little bit. I had never taught my own class of second graders before, and it was huge. I was in charge of 32 seven-year-old kids, and I was scared.
Oh, what a difference a year makes. If I were headed back into my classroom from last year again, I would have a lot more confidence. It would be hard to look at the big number on the board in terms of days to go, but I would still be happy and joyful and ready to go. I would know what to expect and what not to do and all those other little intangibles that I learned along the way last year.
This year, I don’t have my own class. I get to visit other people’s classrooms and spread the music around. I get to mold young musical tastes a little bit and I have a whole year to do it. I know I have written a bit about this already, but I’m really excited.
On Thursday of last week, we had “meet the teacher night” and I bopped around from Zoom to Zoom and said hello to the kids. There wasn’t a huge turnout, but I remember how fun it was last year to meet my new class. Some of the kids I saw on Thursday were students I had online in 2021, so it was great to see them. One was probably my favorite student of the year that year and he got very excited to see me.
That made my heart smile.
I’m trying to remember how it felt to be a student on the first day. I have a picture, somewhere, of me standing out in front of Madison Heights on my first day of first grade. I had a maroon t-shirt with a football on the front that was made from the same material that the old shrinky dinks were made of back in the day. I remember how uncomfortable that shirt was to this day.
I don’t remember what the first day was like, though, back in 1975. Come to think of it, there are no first days from elementary school that stand out in my memory. I’m sure 1978 was a bit of an interesting on as it was my first day at Madison Simis, but I had been playing little league there for a few years by then, so it was not brand new. 1979 would have been my first day at Madison Meadows, but again, I don’t remember what that first day was like.
High school was kind of a big deal, I guess, for first days. The first day at Deer Valley High School was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t know a single person there. Over 4000 students and all brand new. I don’t remember how long it was before I finally talked to someone. The first friend I made there ended up being a creep. He asked me to break into houses with him.
I don’t remember the first day of sophomore year. I remember being happy to not be a freshman anymore, though, and I remember being excited about joining the newspaper. We changed classrooms and that was a big deal, if I remember correctly. I was also eight inches taller as a sophomore than I was as a freshman. That boosted my confidence a bit, but not much.
I was stoked to get Miss F as my English teacher, though. She was the coolest. If you’re reading this now, Miss F, thank you for all you did for me that year. You made a difference! I have some fun memories of being in your class and coming to visit the next year, even though I didn't have you. I remember that you said I could TA for you if I ever went down that path, but alas, I wasn't at DVHS much longer.
I’ve chronicled the beginning of my junior year. I didn’t make it to school on the first day because of the massive concussion I had suffered the day before. The rest, like my sense of smell, is history. I did get to have two and a half first days, though, junior year after moving in with my mom and going to Camelback.
My first day was weird at Camelback. They didn’t have a place for me yet, so I got registered and such and they sent me home. I was kind of baffled that they just turned a minor loose, but that’s what happened. I had bright orange hair (I didn’t understand how bleach worked yet) and I felt cheated at not getting to check things out. The next day, I got to visit all my classes and see what was what.
It’s probably the information overload that makes first days so unmemorable. As I prepped for today, I kept adding more and more stuff. I’m guessing by the time I get to my last class on Friday, I will have the spiel down and know exactly what to share and what to spread out over the first several weeks. It will be strange going back to saying the same thing each class all week. The first month of the school year will be like that, then when Labor Day hits, it will get a bit wonky. At least this time around, I will have the house to myself and not feel like I will be driving anyone crazy saying the same thing over and over.
I’m excited for what today brings. Bring on the fifth graders this afternoon.
See you tomorrow.
My poor attempt to capture a beautiful sunrise in Texas last month.