Education

Excitement and Anxiety: The First Day of School

August 28, 2015
By AFT President Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing teachers posting pictures of their classrooms on Facebook, saying, “My classroom’s ready!” That takes me right back to my childhood, helping my mom prepare her classroom for the students in the waning days of August.

My mom taught second and third grade at Valley Cottage Elementary School. And I remember her ritual of using the days before Labor Day to ready her classroom for her students.

Of course, preparing the classroom—even back then—meant spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars out of her own pocket on supplies—just as her colleagues did and teachers do today.

When I was a kid, my family was lucky to have a laundry room, which housed the washer and dryer, of course, but also served as my mom’s office, filled with all the supplies she bought for her class. It was a treasure trove of books and paper and pens.

My mom worked so hard every year to get ready to open the doors and welcome her students. Even years after she retired, when we moved my parents out of that house, the laundry room was still stocked with school supplies. And my own basement is still stocked with all my lesson plans and supplies from the years I taught.

That brings me to my own time teaching. I remember the first day of school my first year in the classroom. My stomach churned with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Could I do the job? Could I connect with the kids? Will there be the chemistry to build relationships and get the job done, or will I totally flop?

August 27, 2015

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