A few days ago, I read a teacher friend's blog that described the experience of waking up with that feeling that things were not as prepared as he had hoped in his classroom. That this piece was written upon reflection after being out of the teaching game for a year didn't make it any more real. Especially the part about showing up without any pants.
To say that I can relate is an understatement. Most of the time, I don't even bother with the dreams, I just wake up with a start and lay there in the dark, imagining all the ways that the first day of school could go wrong. I do know that having a lockdown on the first day of school would trump last year's experience, but I hope that's not the contest in which we end up competing. Instead, I prefer to catalog the little ways that things can drift south of going well, like the school's Internet connection winking out. The Internet connection that runs our phones, clocks, and bells, in addition to giving our teachers access to lesson plans that they chose to e-mail themselves rather than be stuck with all that paper that they were bound to lose anyway.
This reality is the one that runs right alongside the inevitable first day of school graffiti-fest. The one in which the neighborhood toughs take the opportunity to greet all the incoming kids with barely legible spray painted homages to their fallen heroes. The same ones that were painted over on the last week of school before vacation. Still, the persistent requests from emerging readers to help sound out the words they see on the wall is always a unique challenge.
Add to this the eternal struggle of corralling a group of three hundred and fifty kids into classrooms where they aren't sure they want to be, and a portion of those who just happen to be in the wrong room anyway. We'll straighten it out. It's always much harder to do at night. The night before the first day of school. Over the next one hundred and eighty instructional days, it gets easier. The dream never goes away completely. There's always something lost or broken or in need of clarification. But, as Mister Peabody reminds us, at least I've got my pants.