The First Day Before The First Day

Year: 2

8:30pm found me tonight roaming the Target aisles, on the phone with a friend as I tried to find miscellaneous needs for myself and my classroom. It was the only time I could find; I had my first day of contract hours today (times where teachers are required to be in their classrooms, working, such as these three days before I start teaching). These Target runs were nothing new to me, and I doubt they will disappear as I go into my second year of teaching.

Today was my first day back, and it just felt about one inch off. It wasn’t a bad day, not by any means. It just wasn’t smooth. I set my alarm to wake up early and go to the gym; I slept in until 40 minutes before my staff meeting. I was in a rush while making breakfast; I forgot to pack a lunch, and my breakfast smoothie lacked so many ingredients that I was basically drinking kale (not an experience you need to have, I promise). I didn’t speed through my list of things to do before my first day of teaching, but rather continued to add to the list, in between my thoughtless staring around my classroom. I scurried home when I saw the clock, to Skype my family, but I had technical issues and by the time I was online, we only could talk for about twenty minutes. Again – not a bad day. Not terrible. Just a tiny bumpy. Just an inch off what I’d expected for the day.

The shift happened when I saw a movie with a few other teachers I’ve become friends with since my grad program. We went to see Eighth Grade, a movie about a girl ending her 8th grade year. It is adorable, painful, sweet, cringing, heartwarming, awkward, and hilariously accurate to what I see in my life as a middle school teacher.

I left the movie feeling lighter than I had all day, and more enthusiastic about teaching than I’ve felt all this past month. As I roamed the Target aisles, picking up things I didn’t need and putting them back after a moment too long, I realized something important. My day hadn’t been one inch off, but my perspective certainly had. Of course my first day back into the routine would feel bumpy. That is what first days are. Of course I would feel a little off; I’ve barely set foot in a classroom since the end of May.

It’s something that happens to us all, more frequently than we probably want to admit, but it’s such a good reminder for me as I go into the school year. I can’t let the morning I have before getting to school carry into my classroom, or let one bad class carry into the next class I teach. I can’t let a bad day at school carry into my life at home. And if something feels just one inch off, I should do well to remember taking a step back and considering that it’s my perspective more than my day that needs to be fixed.

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