Monday, August 24, 2009

Another First Day Primer

Today was the first day of school for both the public schools and the college. I never visit the former on Day One (too much chaos), but I have some extra responsibilities at the latter this semester, so I spent a good bit of the day there.

Was it successful? I'd say so. Here now are some random thoughts from today:
  • Parking is always a circus on the first day, but I knew that, unlike (hopefully) any other semester, I had a (bum) leg up on nearly everyone else because of my handicap placard. Though I would have been happy with any handicapped place, I was quite happy to get one of my usual places--front row, in the shade of a big tree.

  • When I needed a copy machine, I didn't have to wait more than a few minutes for it, and nobody else who needed it came up until I was a few minutes away from being done.

  • Because of that, I go into tomorrow (one of my big days of class and ensembles) with all my syllabi and handouts copied and music ready to pass out.

  • The bookstore did not have the item I was looking for, but it was nice to see that, if it had, the line would have been extremely short.

  • Even though the day went longer than Mondays usually have for a while, I left campus with energy to spare.
I'd call this one a winner.

Besides, it's hard to help not feeling good on the first day of a new semester. As I said in a first-day post three years ago,
There's always something about the first day of school. So much promise in the new year. It's a tabula rasa, and there's always the chance that, no matter what happened in the past, a student, or a student group, or even an entire club can remake itself in a new image. Everyone's football team is undefeated; everyone's band has a shot at a sweepstakes; not a single student has gone to detention yet (though the cynic in me wonders how long that record stands unbroken at various schools); even the Least Important Stuff That Gets Talked About the Most (i.e. standardized test scores) starts out the year unblemished. Even as I get caught up in the "return to the grind" elements of things (all the driving between schools, wearing long pants in 104-degree weather, thirteen-hour teaching days), I can stop for a moment to reflect in the freshness of it all.
And while a lot of the above might apply more to the public schools, the first day is, if anything, even more vibrant at the college, probably because nearly everyone is there on their own terms. They may not be looking forward to every class they take, but at least they (almost always) chose their course of study.

To all my fellow educators: If this was your first day too, I hope it went as well as mine did. Feel free to chime in about it no matter what.

Farewell to a most unusual summer: As I've said before, this was one of the most "different" summers I've ever had. The knee surgery alone would have probably propelled it into this category, I think, but it was the weeks after that which were really strange--two weeks of almost complete boredom (while I was stuck at home, unable to drive) followed by two weeks of almost constant activity (fraternity convention and jazz camp). The fact that i had to re-learn so many things that I had previously taken for granted was an interesting experience as well, and I'm happy that the whole thing has been pretty much a constant upward arc. I still have a ways to go, but I'm happy that, as the busy part of the year resumes, I'm getting back to the regular way (and pace) of doing things.

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