It was the first day of a brand new school year. I was just as nervous and excited as every first grader in the room (probably more so!). Although I had been doing this for 12 years now, I never got used to the jitters that came with the first day of school. I had heard from the Kindergarten teachers that this was a particularly spirited group of students, full of personality and energy, so I had brought my A-game. When a Kindergarten teacher warns you that a group is “spirited”, you know that you take the hint and prepare yourself accordingly.
Being the seasoned teacher that I was, I knew that it was imperative to start the year off on the right foot. I was completely prepared to set the tone of the room on the very first day. I had gotten to school extra early to make sure that I had enough materials to get me through the first day, and felt prepared for any curveballs that may be lobbed my way.
Soon enough, the clock struck nine and the bell rang. I could hear the swarming down the hall toward my room. The room was soon filled with 26 5 and 6-year olds, and many of their parents. As I collected supplies, found out dismissal information, showed the kids where to hang their backpacks, and took them to their seats, I felt calm, cool and collected. I felt completely prepared and confident that I would start this year out warm, enthusiastic, yet firm enough to whip this rowdy group into shape quickly.
As the parents began to leave, and it was time to start the day, I called the boys and girls to the carpet for a bit of “getting to know each other” time. I could see that the students’ previous teachers were right….they were a rambunctious group. They did not walk to the carpet so much as hop, roll, run, slide and crawl to the carpet. I decided that we would practice moving to the carpet appropriately at another time, and that for now I would simply get started by telling them a little about myself, and then finding out about each of them.
As I began telling the boys and girls about my family, and things I thought they may want to know about me, they all began to shout out about the things that they wanted me to know about them in return. I was happy that they wanted to share their stories with me, but with at least half of them shouting away, things were beginning to get a little out of hand. The loudest of all was Beck, the child that I had heard the most stories about. It made me happy to see that he wanted to share stories with me, as I had heard that he could be very slow to warm up to adults, and was not always the most cooperative student in the bunch. I knew though that I had to start by setting the stage for the entire year by not accepting this type of behavior on the carpet.
I finally got the children to quiet down and told them that I was very excited to hear all of their stories, but that I could not possible be able to with them all talking at once. I decided to model for them the way that I would like them to behave on the carpet so I said “boys and girls, when you have something to say, this is what I would like you to do” and I raised my hand high in the air.
So, one thing I haven’t mentioned yet, is that I am a child of hippy parents… That being said, I’ve adopted some more liberal ways of maintaining myself and letting nature do it’s thing. Long story short, I don’t shave my armpits. I know this sounds gross to some people, but I simply don’t care what most people think. Also, adults usually have a filter when it comes to verbally expressing their opinions. Children, however, can simply let you have it…
“You got it Hairy Pits!” replied none other than Beck. The class then erupted into peals of laughter, and I instantly regretted my choice of a sleeveless blouse. Although I eventually regained control of my squealing, howling charges, all throughout the rest of the morning I would hear someone yell “Hair Pits!” and the entire class would again explode into hysterics. It was the longest first day of school I have had in my entire 18 year career, and you can be sure that I never again repeated the wardrobe choice that I made that morning, no matter what the temperature!