“I am not leaving if I can’t ride the bus!!!”
“But your mom is waiting for you and wants to hear all about your day. She is going to be worried if you don’t meet her outside”
“But I want to ride the bus!!!”
“I am sorry but you can’t today. You will when you go on a field trip.”
“I want to ride the bus TODAY!!”
“How about we go and find your brother and sister?”
Finally, I had out-witted the little kindergarten girl that was determined to ride the bus home on the first day of school. I held her hand as we pushed through the increasing crowd of students until we found her brother in second grade and her sister in 5th. Thankfully, reuniting her with her siblings helped her forget her determination to ride the bus.
This same little girl had taken her shoes off and dashed across the playground away from her teacher when the whistle blew to come in from recess.
One of my 4th grade students cried after he decided that day one of class was the day to give his new classroom teacher a hard time and ended up spending his first lunch and recess with me instead of with his friends. Thankfully he turned it around for day two.
Walking back to my classroom under the sweltering Tucson sun I started to reflect on my first day of school for the year. After helping in kindergarten and running between classrooms to check on special education students my feet were throbbing, my lower back ached, my legs felt like they would give out on me at any moment, I really had to pee. I was exhausted but happy.
The transition back to school is always challenging, not just for kids but for their teachers too. Kids need to adjust to new schedules and expectations from their new teachers. Teachers have a whole set of new faces and names to learn, only get to pee during their lunch time, if at all, and have to grapple with the physical reality of being on their feet all day in charge of 30 kids.
As a special education teacher I am lucky my class list doesn’t change drastically from year to year. I get to know my students and their families deeply over the course of years. Not many other teachers get to have that opportunity.
I love the first day of school because of the hope and promise that is palpable in the air. I love the sound of happy kid chatter as they race to the playground or see their friend again for the first time. I love that kids come to school in their favorite outfits and often sporting new hair cuts. Finally, the school has life.