Monday, August 29, 2005

The First Day

Everyone arrived early this morning. I thought I was super-early, but I was one of the last to arrive! The copier breaks down in the heat, and it was hot.

We have a parent coordinator this year, and she was on-hand to refer parents to for questions about the uniform and school supplies, so that was nice. I lined up the seventh and eighth graders on one side of the door, and the sixth graders on another, and we brought them inside. Some of the older kids, who know all about our uniform, had nevertheless chosen to show up in full-on hip-hop gear: baggy pants, multiple chains, enormous shirts, sparklingly-clean baseball caps, diamond studs and name-earrings. I greeted one student and asked him to take off his hat and warned him that the earrings would have to go, and he started an argument with me! So it wasn't even 8 am on the first day of school, and already I had a parent to call, because he was so disrespectful, and because he has been an on-going problem for two years now and seems ready to start the third on an even worse note. So much for the first phone call being positive! And what kind of parent lets their child out the door dressed like that - on the first day of school? At a school like ours???

We seated the kids in the auditorium and called out the names for each class. Again, I wasn't impressed by the behavior of the older children, but the sixth graders were perfect. Quiet, patient, friendly. I praised them like crazy.

First period was all about coaxing the copier to produce 84 student handbooks, shepherding latecomers to their classrooms, answering random parent questions, and talking to the police who came to get a report on the laptops. Second period, I went over the handbook with one class. They were very well-behaved, asked good questions, behaved perfectly in the halls. Third period I took another class on a tour, and again, I could not have asked for a better start to the year. This class was eager to know what we'd be studying in Science: Would we do chemistry? What about dissections? What chemistry, exactly? Maybe dissections aren't for children with weak stomachs, suggested a girl who has already dissected a frog in a special prep program... A few corrections, taken well by the students, but overall, excellent behavior. More praise. They are sucking up the praise like their favorite flavor of soda.

I am so excited: we have good clay. Now it's all on us to do the molding.

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