I spent five hours today working in my classroom. I recalled the words of a colleague of mine who once suggested that teaching would be a much easier profession if it didn't involve all those children. I put books in nice, orderly stacks, made copies of the week's first tests, and generally created order from the mild chaos that was left in my room after it was "cleaned". I know how many pencils I have, and how many folders. My extra erasers are all in a zip-lock bag in anticipation of that students who make more mistakes than their pencils will allow. The fluency readers are all grouped and rubber-banded together by unit for easy access. Every student has their language arts books on the left, and their math on the right. If I had to start teaching tomorrow morning, I would be ready.
That doesn't mean that I want to get started, and not because I don't enjoy my job. I am forever in love with this moment in the year, when everything is still possible, and all my kids are still potential. I am not yet overwhelmed by circumstances or events. The school year stretches out in front of me in the same neat rows that I placed the desks. And if things start to get a little loose around the edges, that's okay, because I have the wisdom and patience to rein it back in.
The ironic coincidence to all of this is that today is also the day that the state test results are released to the public. Last year's class didn't mess up the curve, but they didn't embarrass themselves either. A year ago, they were all waiting in the wings of fourth grade. Now another group is gathering for their shot at Mister Caven's class. I think they'll do just fine.