This year marks my 33rd first day of school. This year I had a new student in tears come in to my classroom a few minutes before the bell. She was accompanied by one of our guidance counselors. We exchanged a knowing glance. Anxiety is a real bitch. I smiled sympathetically and told her that even after 32 more or less successful first days of school, I still get nervous. I still have dreams where I don’t know my schedule or I can’t get the combination on my locker to work, or I’m paging through the course catalog trying to sign up for classes at the last minute. Ugh, that course catalog -it plagues me still. I told her about the dream I have where I’m all prepared for the first day except I’m wearing a towel instead of pants. She cringed. No one wants to hear about their teacher in a towel. Good, let her transform some of that anxiety into thinking I’m a totally inappropriate wingnut. Let her smile for a second and feel that pit in her stomach, that churning in her chest, ease a little bit. I know them both well and have for most of my life.
This year I posted a giant sticky for the kids to add their fears about the worst possible thing that could happen on the first day of 7th grade. They could be as realistic (my pants fall down) or unrealistic (zombie apocalypse) as they chose.