A New Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Week One:

  1. Coffee
  2. Prayer
  3. Allotting 5 minutes of “cry time” in your schedule

Well, I did it. It’s Friday evening, my body hurts, and the only thing that sounds appealing right now is sleep. I don’t even want to wash the 14-hour-old makeup off of my face, I don’t want to eat dinner, I don’t even want to crawl into bed. I just want to sleep soundly right here at my kitchen table sitting up in this wooden chair.

Side note: remind me to upholster these things or something because comfortable, they are not.

This week was my first week in a school surrounded by children with the title of “teacher.” I managed to get through the week with only two adults asking, “Can I help you?” thinking I was a parent, and only one asking, “Where are you supposed to be?” thinking I was a student.

Though I don’t have my students yet (I teach Talented Theatre, which is a curriculum in and of itself separate from regular education courses, so my students get pulled from their regular classes two weeks post-first day of school. Think of it like the NFL draft, but with much more dramatic and much shorter players), I was still able to meet a lot of new students, some of which were mine!

“Are you our new drama teacher?!” they’d ask, running up to me with big smiles on their faces.

“Yes!” I’d shout each and every time, nearly peeing on myself from excitement. Hold it together, Kaitlyn. They’ll judge you if you do that. I’d judge you if you do that.

Every day I get asked when drama class starts and how they can’t wait for it to begin. Today, while I was teaching a curriculum called Getting Along Together with my partner teacher during last period, I had FOUR students tell me that they wanted to be in drama. One actually left class to go speak with the assistant principal about getting recommended.

Kids actually want to act.

Kids actually want to learn about theatre.

Kids actually want to hang out with me and have me be their teacher.

One girl has already told me that I’m her best friend. Another boy gave me a fist bump after class today, which, in 8th grader language, means “You’re cool.” Another child always lets me leave class before him saying, “You first.”

It’s so strange how I never wanted to be a teacher, and now that this job fell into my lap, it’s all that I can think about.

I come home and smile at the memories I have from students that day. Some memories make me crazy, like when that one kid keeps talking out of turn, or that other kid that just has to be the center of attention. It’s not all fun and games, but, for the most part, it’s been pretty remarkable.

They’re so smart and so impressionable and, despite popular belief, so innocent. Most of them come from good homes where they have parents who are present and nurturing and loving, but some don’t. You can see it. Feel it. But they’re still smiling. They’re still showing up to school everyday, and they’re still doing their schoolwork, and they’re still raising their hands to answer questions in class.

And they’re still dreaming.

And goal-setting.

And asking how long it takes to earn a Master’s Degree.

And telling me they think I’m fun.

And that they want to be in my class.

And that they love theatre and they’re excited to start learning.

If this isn’t joy, knowing that there are hundreds of students I can reach out to and make an impact on for the better, then I don’t know what is.

It’s 8pm now. I still have a couple of hours of catch up work to do, still have to vacuum my house before my family visits in the morning, and I still have to wash off my 14-hour-old makeup, but I wouldn’t change anything about this week for, well, anything.

I’m thankful for the weekend for a chance to eat a balanced lunch for once this week and maybe sleep in on Sunday, but I honestly can’t wait to pull up to my elementary school on Monday morning with my coffee in hand and visit my kids.

Things happen.

You find your reason.

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