It’s official. My vacation is over, and students will cross the threshold of my classroom on Monday. Some teachers love this time of year right before the students arrive—the polished hallway floors, the promise of starting over, the meetings with colleagues to discuss ideas and projects for the year. Other teachers would rather have students in the room. I overheard one of my colleagues say the empty building creeps him out. Still others mourn the summer’s end as dramatically as teenage lovers about to be separated.
During the days leading up to the students’ arrival, my anxiety heightens to the point of almost having a stomachache. On the morning of the first day, I have conflicted reactions: I want to simultaneously stay in bed with the covers over my head and get to school two hours early.
I’m like our nanny’s daughter who is attending our school for the first time as a 6th grader this year. For the last few days, when we picked up the boys, she sat in the living room and looked at the TV. Something in the way she stared told me that she wasn’t really watching Nemo. Before we left each day, she said, “Maestra, one more question…” and repeated a question she asked me the week before. She’s so nervous I’m not quite sure how she’s going to make it through her first week.
Miguel and I discussed her apprehension one day on our way home. When I explained my concern, he said, “No, it’s good she’s that nervous. It means it’s important to her, and she doesn’t want to fail.”
Maybe that’s why I have such nervous excitement, too. Maybe it comes down to the fact that, as teachers, we know how effectual our jobs are, how much depends on our success.
What makes you both nauseous and excited at the same time?