WOW! I just read Heather's latest post over at Heather's Heart - she is so incredibly on target! In the rush and excitement of getting ready for back-to-school, it's so easy to get caught up in how cute everything looks, how perfect our rooms are, and how much "stuff" we can cram into our spaces. It's funny, though, the first thing I tell my new students each year is that I will love them unconditionally, that I will treat them just like I do my own children, and that I can't teach them a single thing until I've made sure that they are safe, happy, and comfortable.
Being quite the smart-mouth, I sit my babies down on the first day and ask them who their first grade teachers were. I ask them if all those teachers looked alike, acted alike, dressed alike, etc. Then I ask them to look around at each other, and at me. We go through the same questions. This is my lead-in to introducing my own teaching style. I tell them how excited and nervous I am, and imagine they are. I tell them how much I will love each and every one of them each and every day, BUT that I have a smart mouth, that I like to tease and play, and that I have a silly (that's second-grade for sarcastic) sense of humor, and that if I ever do or say anything to hurt their feelings, I hope they will come to me and let me know, because I would never, ever want to hurt them. Then I tell them I'll make them a deal: If they tell me what I've done "wrong" before they tell their parents, giving me a chance to apologize and fix the problem, I'll tell them what they've done "wrong" before I tell their parents, giving them a chance to fix the problem. And you know what, it works! Before too long, they all get my sarcasm, and we do learn that word early on in the year. They know I'm teasing, when I tell them I'm going to "let the beatings begin", when they're all "Christmas-Crazy" by, like, every. single. Thursday. afternoon! We laugh, and play, and learn, and have the best times together, and they know I love them. It's the last thing I tell them every day.
So, as we all stress out over having our perfect rooms, and our perfect decorations, and our perfect posters (and we still will - we always do!), let's all try to remember that those precious babies we teach won't care, probably won't even notice, the new rugs, the cute borders, or the oh-so-special sparkly table numbers. All they'll care about is how much we love them...and isn't that why we all do this crazy thing called teaching?
Happy New School Year,