The beginnings of things are the most beautiful, the most terrible, and the most fascinating. Babies emerge covered in goo, screaming, and blinded as a room full of people stand and watch. Teaching is not much different. My four year gestation left me soaked in theory, conversational, and blinded with well-meaning naivety about the world I was entering.
Plants have it a little easier as they grow from seed to stalk; they push through dirt, but it seems more private and clean I think. They get to flower much more quickly as well. Depending upon the genus and species, it may take only days or weeks before buds emerge, ripe with petals. People are a bit more complicated from what I’ve seen, but they bloom nonetheless.
This one is a Sweetbay Magnolia, a Magnoliophyta.
In a few days, I’ll enter my very own classroom for the fist time. I’m certified, studied, approved, contracted, and adjectified many times over in various ways, but only the experience itself can truly qualify me. I’ve been in classrooms for hundreds of hours before now, but always under someone else’s flag. Even as a long-term substitute or a student teacher, being alone with students doesn’t carry the same weight as it does when you answer only to yourself. In the past, I’ve had the sturdy crutch of well-established rules and plans to learn on (hopefully that pun reads ok).
Since being hired in the Spring, I’ve contributed all of my efforts to preparing myself for this teaching experience. I’ve been lucky enough to inherit two large, military grade filing cabinets full of lesson plans stuffed neatly into manila folders and labeled in my predecessor’s perfect penmanship. She left me scores of books as well, built up over the past decade.
I suppose I feel very lucky to have been hired into such a wonderful position; much like a magnolia seed might feel the same for being sewn in the nitrogen-rich soil of a sunny Southern state. I’m planted in a good spot. I’m comfortable and ready to grow. Six periods of freshman readers await me for the next 180 or so school days and I honestly couldn’t feel more prepared emotionally.
There is a small part of me that makes me wonder if my confidence will melt into bravado when that first bell rings, the first bags hit my floor, and I choose whether or not to smile. For now, I will keep grinning and planning for this sure-to-be exciting and challenging year.