I moved the same pile of papers three times around my room, each time leaving it just long enough to forget where it was. By the time I had located it for the third time, it was time for me to head outside. I've been at the same school for nine years now, but I still feel the same mix of anticipation and dread on that first morning. There are class lists, posted in two different locations, and I know that they will be surrounded by parents, children and teachers - all trying to get a glimpse of not just what class they are in, but who else will be there with them.
Out on the yard I move through waves of young kids with their parents, then older kids who don't need mom and dad to take them to their first day. Then there are still others who might rather that their parents had come, but still try to look calm in the face of the eventual beginning of a new year. The last group is the ones with the whole family there, and the fourth grader who can only roll his or her eyes as the parents introduce themselves and share all manner of specific and pointed advice about what to do with their little darling.
And I listen to it. And I smile. And I nod. And I stroke my chin thoughtfully. I'm a parent too, I tell them, but that doesn't really matter because they need to tell me about their child because they are trusting me for six hours a day, five days a week not to forget that Debbie does best when she can sit close to the board and Gregory doesn't get along with Brandon anymore so could I please make sure that they don't sit next to one another please.
When we get inside the room, Debbie is sitting in the back corner. Brandon and Gregory have already plopped down across from one another - thick as thieves. This is how it begins. The door closes and I begin to shape young minds - again.