Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome to My Class

Today was the First Day of School, my 16th First Day as an educator. My third First Day as a Vice Principal.

I didn't feel as sad as I did two years ago today, when, after shooing students into class as the bell rang and surveying the empty quad, I retreated to my office and thought, Now what? I knew the teachers, at that very moment, were greeting students, somewhat nervously, as I had only recently, and establishing that crucial daily relationship meant to last nine important months...or more.

Nevertheless, today wasn't half bad; it was even almost great. Two years of investment in students from the Vice Principal Vantage Point seemed to yield dividends: the unruly senior boys who hang by the 500 building cleared a seat on the bench for me at Break and offered up some Hot Tamales; another student, whose older siblings preceded him in my Creative Writing classes, shared my salad at lunch. Freshmen didn't seem too scared of their New Disciplinarian. I made copies for a new teacher and helped a counselor summon students whose schedules needed switching.

I felt helpful; I felt supportive. I felt like an administrator.

Still, I know what I have traded in for this opportunity. It's hard to measure, hard even to describe. I read articles and imagine how I might share them with curious 17-year olds. I hear songs which allude to poems which allude to novels and I want students to understand those connections, as well as how simply knowing opens up new worlds. Moreover, I know that teaching comes with its own unpredictability and serendipity; that is, my students teach and expose me to things I couldn't imagine.

Outside the classroom, the discourse is different. It's vital, it's important, but it's not the same. So I have some work to do in determining the discourse path my career will take. And I just don't know where I'm headed yet.

Poem for the First Day (8/28/02)

Let me introduce myself.

I’ve been waiting for you,
it seems,
all summer—
Or maybe—
my whole life.

Greedy, eager, curious
I want to know you by now:
the songs in your speakers
words you scribble
fears, confusion, triumphs--
your friendships, the borders of you
melting and redefining

Let’s imagine Spring
after laughter and frustration
have fused us,
when this fleeting thing is ending
And you and I,
on the other hand, are only
just beginning.

This year,
you are
who I am.

Nice to meet you.

4 comments:

me said...

I wish you were the vice principal in my high school. I couldn't even tell you the name of mine, but then again I didn't require the attention of the vice principal. But I sure would have liked to be noticed by an adult who might have encouraged a little more from me than my parents.

JJ&K said...

Have you really been educating for 16 years?!?!?! Wow!

Unfortunately, unlike previous commenter, I did require the attention of the Vice Principal. Bet you're glad you weren't in that spot then... :-)

Debbie said...

Those kids are so lucky to have you!

Debbie said...

Those kids are so lucky to have you!