Take a peek at what teachers think about the week before school begins. It may explain why they look nervous on the first day of school.

Have you ever wondered what teachers think about the week before school begins? I can’t speak for every educator, but based on my thoughts during the 25 Augusts of my teaching career and what my teacher friends and rellies say is on their minds, the 5 statements below are a good sampling of what’s buzzing around in their brains.

#1: Inservice Is Going to Be the Death of Me

Teachers go back to work from 3 days to 2 weeks before students show up. Most of those days are dedicated to inservice meetings about new district initiatives, new government policies, state-mandated trainings, and more. The longer I taught, the harder attending inservice became. Because experience had shown me that for teachers to meet students’ needs, they need time to prepare in their classrooms and to read student IEPs and 504 plans. Since little to no time is allotted for those activities in the days before school begins, many teachers believe inservice will be the death of their good intentions for students.

#2: No Way Will I Be Ready for the First Day of School

My subconscious brain manifested this thought the week before school began through a reoccurring nightmare. It began with me at my end-of-summer teeth cleaning sitting in the chair stark naked but for the paper bib around my neck. In the next scene, I was walking down the hallway at school, again in the buff. I was puzzled because other than myself, no one in the dream was disconcerted. The nightmare ended when I woke in a cold sweat, grateful for my nightgown and for the realization that no one else knew how unprepared I felt. Every teacher has their own version of this nightmare because every teacher feels unprepared as school begins.

#3: There Is Never Enough Time in a Day

See  #1 and #2.

#4: My Students Deserve Much More Than I Can Give

Elementary classrooms contain 20–25 students each year. In a perfect 6 hour school day, each student could conceivably receive an average of 15 minutes of individualized attention. But whole class instruction chips away at individual attention time, so each child gets much less. Move into secondary school, and individual student time goes way, way down. Teachers do the best they can, but they leave work every day knowing their students deserve more, much more than they can give.

#5: Soon These Children Will Capture My Heart

A class roster is a list of strangers before school begins. But soon and very soon, as teacher and students get to know one another, the strangeness ends. Personalities emerge, shared history expands, and inside jokes develop. Before teachers know it, their hearts are captured by their students. On the last day of school, hearts break as teachers say good-bye to the students who have become their kids. Teachers know this will happen, and they enter the classroom willingly because their students and the joy they will share is worth the heartbreak.

With thoughts like these buzzing around their brains, it’s no wonder your child’s teacher looks nervous on the first day of school. So when you say a prayer for your child, say a prayer for the teacher, too. Really and truly, they both need it.

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