More Than Just Jitters.

My teeth are brushed, my hair still damp, my fan (and mind) spinning.

I’m staring at the ceiling because I can’t sleep.

My lunch is packed and in the refrigerator, my coffee mug set out on the counter, my outfit hanging by the door.

Tomorrow is the first day of my fifth year teaching.

Every year this happens — this “first day jitters” kind of deal. I’m beyond thrilled to start the year and get to know my new students. I’m always a little nervous at least, because I want to make sure I don’t forget something big to tell them or show them. The first day of middle school is huge for these kids and I’m determined to make it a positive experience!

But tonight isn’t normal first day jitters.

I’m lying here awake because I feel so incredibly grateful to be this excited about my job.

Seriously, this is like second Christmas for me.

The blessing is real, y’all — I get to go to work and teach kids about the wonders of our world. I get to show kids their own hidden talents and help them realize their potential. I get to facilitate the learning of young people who might march for civil rights, cure cancer, or go live on Mars.

I get to work with a fabulous team of human beings who are dedicated to doing what’s best for kids.

I get to wake up in the morning and know I have a job that provides me with health insurance and the ability to pay a mortgage.

I am so thankful for these things. I am so thankful for the people in my life who aren’t at school with me every day who encourage me, love me, and challenge me. I can only hope to be a conduit of blessing to those around me wherever I go.

While I definitely have first day jitters tonight, I stand in awe of so many blessings God has granted me, including the passion He wrote on my heart to educate young people.

Here’s to a brilliant fifth year, friends — full of gratitude and constant amazement.

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THE FIRST DAY.

Friends, I did it: I survived my first day of teaching.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (<– necessary)

So let me start out by saying that it’s not quite 11pm and I can’t wait to write this blog but at the same time I can’t wait to finish writing this blog because I AM SO TIRED. My legs hurt from being on my feet running around all day, my throat is a little sore from the massive amounts of reading books aloud and discussing group talk expectations (and hallway expectations and bathroom expectations and breathing expectations expectations expectations expectations), and I am just plum worn out. That’s how it’s supposed to be, though, right? I like to call this feeling “wonderfully exhausted” — I think it works nicely.

The day literally FLEW by. It was like the hour before the kids started coming into my room was gone in an instant. Before I knew it, I had 21 third graders in desks hanging on my every word. I read them Where the Wild Things Are and Miss Nelson Is Missing! during our literacy block. We had a little discussion about how we’re supposed to act in a group while talking. We reviewed every expectation imaginable. We practiced routines over and over and over and over (and we will do this tomorrow over and over and over as well) — I timed the kids to see how quickly and quietly they could get in line by numerical order and they ROCKED IT (25 seconds? I’m impressed). They’re really into being timed and beating their old record. I’m planning on totally using this to my every advantage throughout the school year. Also during our numerical line up practice, I alternated speaking in English and Spanish — the first time, I counted the line in English, the second time in Spanish, etc. When I counted in Spanish, every single Hispanic child’s eyes widened. I didn’t tell them that I spoke Spanish, and they were just giddy! I noticed that some of the kids aren’t really in to speaking Spanish and having Spanish be spoken around them, so I’m definitely trying to change that (taking steps to make bilingual learners in Durham, holla!). I love making that connection with the native Spanish speakers, though. It makes our relationship that much more special.

I think my favorite part of my day was first thing this morning when all the kids came in and were at their desks. I was very honest with them and I told them how indescribably excited I was for this moment — to have them all sitting in MY classroom (A28 REPPIN’), ready to learn. To see their sweet little faces focused on whatever we’re talking about at the time. I told them how happy I was they were here today and how much fun we’ll have during the year.

It was kind of like light bulbs went off in some minds, because their faces just lit up and their eyes gleamed. I tried my very hardest to convey my love for them, this deep love that I have for these kids on the first day of school.

I don’t think a lot of kids have ever had something like that said to them.

I want them to be so excited for school every day. I want them to be excited to learn. I truly believe that I can achieve this with these students, especially after the fantastic first day we had.

Literacy block was my other favorite — we talked about the different ways to read a book and how to “go back and check your understanding” and things of the like. Their faces during the read alouds were absolutely priceless, I wish I had a nanny cam in there so I could show you. We also practiced “Read to Self” (RTS) which is part of The Daily 5 program (teacher friends, it’s awesome — use in conjunction to The CAFE Book and you’ll be so set for literacy instruction!). Part of this RTS concept is to build stamina so kids can be sure they can read and comprehend for extended periods of time. The book/program says to start out this process with three minute increments — students should really be reading this whole time, not losing focus. They say if you see a student lose focus in those three minutes, stop time and start over.

Well. My kids read for those three minutes. Every. Single. One.

I seriously almost cried when I saw all of the kids digging around in their book boxes, pulling out books, reading. It was so magical.

At the end of the day I gathered us all on the carpet and asked everyone to say what their favorite part of their first day of third grade was, and most of the kids said reading! Some said recess, some said other random things, but MOST OF THEM SAID READING. Do you know how exciting that is for a teacher who is passionate about literacy? MY KIDS LIKE TO READ. THEY THINK IT’S FUN. WINNING.

It was a really long day and I didn’t get home until around 8pm. I didn’t want to make dinner (I seriously think I am bound to lose weight now that I’m a teacher — between not wanting to cook anymore, never having time to finish lunch, and consuming caffeine on a daily basis, I think I’ve found the best diet ever), but fortunately my roommate had soup prepared and she was willing to share (she’s the best). I sat down and started processing my day and couldn’t help but think that it was really the perfect first day. Yeah, there were a couple hiccups — one of my kids got on the wrong bus, we had slow transitions, there are definitely always things to work on — but in those hiccups there was perfection.

As I finished revising my plans for tomorrow, I checked my email one last time before signing out. This was in my inbox from a parent of a new student from out of state:

Just want to let you know that KR told me her first day of school was great and that she LOVES her teacher. Thank you!

Well, if that doesn’t make my day worth it, I don’t know what will.

Am I crazy for being really excited about tomorrow, too?