Let me explain. You see, I love starting a new school year. Yeah, I have the usual teacher nightmares about arriving late to class, naked, and not having anything prepared. But it’s still an exciting time.
In what other profession can you begin as an unknown entity each year? All you are to your new students is a nameplate on the classroom door. And sometimes it’s fun to switch those around and watch the students’ confusion as they’re trying to find their classes. Not that I would do that, mind you.
But each August, I can reinvent myself before a new audience. That’s one of the best aspects of a teaching career, besides our enviable salaries, of course.
In most careers, you’re stuck with the same critical, overbearing, disrespectful boss day after day, year after year, especially if you’re self-employed. But we teachers have a new batch of guinea pigs … uh, students … each school year to try out new methods.
Of course, there are always a few teachers who begin every new term by pulling out a stack of yellowed lecture notes, blowing off the dust and intoning, “For the next three months, I will drone on and on about ancient Western civilizations, after which, you will regurgitate it back to me on a 200-question exam and write a five-page essay analyzing “Factors in the Fall of the Roman Empire” or “The Greek Legacy in the Modern World.”
But most teachers I’ve worked with over the years have had that excitement to begin a new school year because this time, by gosh, it’s gonna be different! We learned from the previous year’s classes what, as the students charmingly say, “totally sucked.”
“This year,” we think with hopeful optimism, “I’m going to be the perfect teacher!” I know better by now, of course, but I still think it, and perhaps if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be worth our red apples.
The anticipation might be the same for students – well, at least for some of them.
I was in the back-to-school aisles at Walmart the other day, buying classroom supplies, and two high school age girls were filling their baskets with student necessities: notebooks, paper, pens, highlighters, book covers, purses, eye shadow, brushes, lip gloss, fuzzy key chains, mini photo albums, and cell phones. During all this back-to-school consumerism, one girl said to the other, “I love going back to school!”
I restrained myself from racing over and embracing her, but I think she, too, was anticipating that fresh start, that new territory ahead, the new faces in the classroom.
Probably, seeing new teachers’ faces figured very little in her remark about looking forward to school. No doubt she’s already gotten the student rating on each of her new teachers.
However, she could be in for revamped, pedagogically revised, academically Botoxed teachers.
It’s our specialty. And that’s what makes our profession so “classy.”