Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day Jitters? More Like Back To School Earthquake

I survived.  Today was the first day back to school with students.  Let me give you a little preview, but first, I have to say, that though there was chaos, it was one of the best first days of school I have had in my career.  I can't even explain why.  Maybe it's quaaludes.

2 weeks ago, I started bugging our new principal about our class lists.

If there is one thing teachers want more than ANYTHING before school starts, it's class lists.  Nothing breeds anxiety faster than the rumor that class lists aren't ready, won't be ready, may never be ready.

Because then you start to wonder.  And imaginations get pretty out of control around August 31st, when class lists are still swirling in the land of technology woes.

So, every few days, I would ask the principal, secretary, UPS guy if the class lists were ready.  And everyone, except the UPS guy, kept assuring me that they would be ready soon.

And then we hit rock bottom.  There was a MAJOR disaster with the schedules.  Like one whole grade had to be redone from the very beginning.  And it was, oh, like a week before school started.

Now, this principal was known for her stellar work with the schedule at the high school.  Scheduling 1200 kids?  No problem.  Coming to our school and scheduling 500 kids?  She could probably do it before breakfast.

Not so fast, lady.  There is some sort of Bermuda triangle-like force in our building that makes things like scheduling harder to accomplish than world peace.  I'm on my 4th principal and not one has been able to do it to anyone's satisfaction.

So, the daily update from the principal was that it was coming.  Or that she had had yet another set back.  Or that it was coming.  Not to worry.

At one point last week, I went in with an example of last year's class lists, explaining that the format on the top, the one that holds the entire secret of the school year- the place where we find out which class we see on which day, must be given to us before school starts.  OF COURSE, she said.  OF COURSE you need to know who you see when.

So, she put the school schedule in everyone's mailbox last Thursday.  So, we all know what times we see periods A,B,C,D,E,F,G.

The question still remained- WHICH KIDS DO I SEE FOR A, B, C?????  Because you can tell me 400 times that I teach 5 of those sections, but if you don't tell me when I see Joe Schmo, how will I know when to expect him?????

Even the day before kids started, I asked about class lists.  The answer was that you would not believe the disaster that had occurred once again.   3 people sat there all over the Labor Day weekend trying to fix things.  It's like Dominoes.   You fix one thing and it undoes 10 other things.

I'm not sure dismantling a bomb is more difficult than trying to get this schedule to actually work and put kids in classrooms with teachers who are also in the same classrooms at the same times.

School started today.  I arrived at school 45 minutes before kids entered the building.  I went to my mailbox, expecting to see my class lists.

It was empty.

So, I got in line to see the principal, who happened to be standing in front of the secretary.  I SHOWED them, for the second time, my example of what the office gave us last year.  The one that says WHEN WE SEE THE KIDS.  The principal assured me they must be in my box.  I assure her that they were not in mine and the 3 teachers I had just passed did not have them either.

So, she looked at the secretary, sure that there was just a little mistake and asked why I might not have received my rosters.  Surely everyone else did.  The secretary looked at both of us and said "You need rosters?"

I have never seen anyone's eyes fall out of their head, but I actually think my principal's might have been hanging by the optic nerves.  If looks could really have power, that secretary would have been beamed right out of the building.

So, we all looked at each other and, being a recent optimist, I said "well, the good news is that you have every teacher in this building in their homeroom for about an hour and a half.  We actually DO have our homeroom lists, so I suppose if you could whip out those rosters, we could get them before we have actual classes come in."

They were HAND DELIVERED within the hour.

So now, I knew when I was to see whom.

But, the first day of school never runs like a well oiled machine.   We have to throw in some monkey wrenches with things like assemblies, extended homeroom and a slight variation of the normal schedule so that classes are shorter.

I had my homeroom for about 45 minutes.  They are 6th graders.  They've never had more than one teacher before.  I've never had a 6 day schedule before (When kids in the auditorium heard that we have a 6 day schedule, they FLIPPED because they thought it meant coming to school on Saturday too!  I thought that was the best advertisement for the fact that our district is finally getting down to seriously preparing our kids.  Front page news tomorrow:  School District Mandates 6 Day Week.  State Test Results Sure to Be Off the Charts.) so I have no idea how to even read their schedules.  So, I did the best I could and sent them on their way.

As the day went on, classes came and went at the right times and Most of my class lists were actually correct.  That is a first!

Then the 6th grade teachers did a little schedule changing of their own and didn't tell those of us who have 6th grade homerooms, so while I was teaching a 7th grade class, my homeroom didn't understand why they couldn't come in for homeroom time.

To top it off, the buses did some weird thing and about 1/2 of our kids found out at like 2:30 that their afternoon bus number would not be the same as their morning bus number.  Everyone ran around trying to make sure teachers had copies of every kid and their bus number so they could actually get on a bus to take them home.

But, I actually made it through the day in these and didn't have a single pain near my bunion.  It was more just the fatigue of my feet in heels all day.  Yeah Aerosoles!  I swear the secret is the soft, suedelike lining, instead of that nasty plastic that so many shoes have on the insole.

I ended the day with the same kids I started with, I didn't kill anyone, what else matters?


  1. Wow! Sounds hectic! Atleast your feet don't hurt and your shoes look good :)

  2. Sounds like the person you need to nag about the rosters is the secretary, not the principal? Good luck the rest of the week.

  3. Cute shoes! This post was really interesting. I never thought about school scheduling like dismantling a bomb before. You teachers and school people rock!

  4. Wow, you survived! Those definitely were some monkey wrenches - I would have been freaking out :). And I'm so impressed you teach 6th graders... you're like SuperWoman!!!


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