First week of school successes and pitfalls

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community columnist

“Will you pose for a celebratory photo proving that you survived the first full week of school?” I ask students as we wait for buses together. They all respond the same way—with a look of knowing exhaustion and then—the smile, the pose, and some laughter.

These students and I are braving the mid-August heat together. After a long day of running from one class to another, they endure the sun and stand outside waiting for their buses. Annually, I have bus duty the first full week of school. While it’s hot, I enjoy visiting with the students I’ve just met. This extended time helps me memorize names with faces.

I’m reluctant to complain about the heat of bus duty. While I’m outside for bus duty about half an hour, many teachers have been without air conditioning since school started. Perhaps parts to repair the units are on the way. I worry about the students enduring the heat, but I’m deeply concerned about teachers enduring near 90-degree temperatures all day long. A teacher downstairs near my classroom is without air, but we agree that downstairs without air is breezy as compared to upstairs without air.

School’s opening is always physically difficult as the school community builds endurance following easier summer days. This year’s lack of air-conditioning made the opening of school tougher for those enduring the heat.

The consolation prize for the first full week’s bone-tired is the lovely camaraderie uniting students—and the realization I witness as students lean in—hungry for knowledge and hopeful that their work will create a pace that propels them toward success without too much sacrifice.

Immediately, I allow students to see me clearly. To trust me with their writing, they must witness my imperfections. Dealing authentically with my students allows them to relax and commit to their reflective writing pieces.

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” Tamia Nelson’s choice of this John Green quote for classroom display inspires me. In my classroom, we’re working towards remarkable.