I remember what my back to school prep looked like when I first began my career. The minute I opened that letter detailing my position for the coming year, I’d be there that same afternoon. It’s no stretch to say the first things that I did after arriving was blast the music and then hang my favorite sign: “Anti-crastinators welcome.”
I’d sit down and order posters for my room, paying for it out of my own pocket. I’d read 30 books of quotes before finding the perfect one for each student. I’d print off the students’ faces and put them on flash cards, studying them over and again until I had it down pat. It may have taken a solid week, but when the first day of school came, I. Was. Ready.
Now, however, is a different story.
It’s just a few days until school starts, and I don’t even know where to begin. Granted, technology is supposed to make things easier: instead of receiving a letter regarding my assignment, my principal emails and texts me. My class rosters are available online. Pinterest is there to give me a million ideas for my lessons. Heck, I can even send posters and decorations to the professional printer while brushing my teeth.
But I haven’t.
My to-do list is hardly isolated to my professional life. My cat Chooch has been dropping little Choopers all over the carpets of my new home, and I’m following him around the house with pet spray and a furrowed brow. It’s hard to find these nuggets of wisdom because it looks like the Tasmanian Devil (my two-year-old son) was searching for Bugs Bunny (insert item of his temporary interest here). Yesterday my car’s exhaust system decided to bail out from the chassis of my vehicle onto the highway; now it sounds like a monster truck yelling at the road. And, of course, there’s an article I’ve been commissioned to write for WeAreTeachers on what my classroom looks like, and instead of accomplishing any of this, I’m looking out the back window of my porch.
Some of it is neglect (what you don’t think about, you don’t worry about). A bit of it is using a straw to suck up the last bits of summer. All while wondering how in God’s name my mom, a single parent with three boys, did this on her own. Oh how I wish it was socially acceptable to fall into the fetal position and cry—even if it’s just every once in a while. But, it’s not. Yet.
So, how am I going to catch up with my to-do list?
I know – I’ll ask the kids! That’s what I do when I don’t know what to do with a lesson, so maybe it’ll work with my classroom. I pull out my phone and take a quick 360 degree shot of it and post it online. Beneath it (or on top of it for you non-Snap-Chatters) I write, “Room looks pretty empty and sad—who wants to come in and help place smiles on the wall?”
I receive no less than 18 responses from former (and even incoming) students. Wow. Now to ensure I’m not violating any child labor laws, I’ll buy them lunch. Sometime.
When 5 of the students arrive, they know exactly what to do. Two of them hang all 150 quotes on the walls around my room. Two others place the desks in their proper place and decorate the room. The other catalogues my library and sharpens up my art supply cabinet. I look out the window—just for a second—and see in its reflection two different things. The helpfulness of the kids who want me to have another successful year.
And that darn “Anti-crastinator sign.”
I do my best to stealthily sneak over to the sign and deposit it in the trash can.
“What’s that?” one of the students asks.
“Something,” I pause to think. “That died in me a long time ago.”