First Day Jitters

I used to get super nervous at the start of every school year. Anxiety dreams leading up to the first day, the whole works…but it kind of stopped several years ago. I think the thing that made me the most nervous about starting the school year was not knowing what vision I had for the year, the unit, the first week, the first day…the first hour. Then as I learned more about myself and the kind of teacher I like to be–and keep striving to become, year after year–the nervousness subsided. I know that the lesson I do on the first day doesn’t need to be perfect–in fact it will most certainly not be perfect–and that I will still be able to have a successful day. I learned that bringing my whole self to class on day one and being warm and welcoming and starting the incredibly amazing task of building relationships with my students is the MOST IMPORTANT THING I can do.

But I have to admit something to all of you: I am super nervous about starting teaching this year.

This is actually the first time EVER in my career that I am starting up at the same school for the second year in a row (technically, I did return to a school once before, but I’d only taught there for half the previous year…so I wasn’t there at the start of the school year). I know some of you think that I’m a big-time-awesome teacher, like the rest of the MTBoS gang, but I’m really just a fraud. At least that is what I think when I take a peek at my much-submitted resumé.

But that’s not actually the reason I’m feeling nervous. Nor is it even the fact that I’m taking on the role of “Discipline Team Coordinator” (translation: department head). Nope. It’s the fact that I’m teaching a new course, our math elective, Topology.

Which is really strange to me. I mean, I’ve taught roughly 15 bajillion new courses over the past 7 years I’ve been a math teacher. Last year I was writing a new course, basically from scratch.

I have all of the notes and files from the previous Topology teacher, so it’s not like I’m having to do that again. But there’s just something about this Topology course that is freaking me out. I think the biggest thing is I don’t have a strong grasp on what I want students to get out of the course. I don’t know where exactly I’m taking them. This is scary.

However, reading back on my previous words, I can see that it’s going to be okay. I know what the students will do on the first day. I know what I will do on the first day: the MOST IMPORTANT THING. And if I haven’t figured out yet what we’re doing in week two, it’ll happen. I’ll probably be spending a bit more time on the weekends planning than most years, and I’ll likely be throwing more questions and pleas for help out on twitter. But in the end, I’ll get to the end of the course having survived and hopefully having had a really successful course.

But I’m still frikin’ nervous.

Bonus Post–My Favorite Anxiety Dream.

I had this dream when I was a student teacher, the night before my first observation:

I was standing in front of the classroom, doing my normal thing at the overhead. In the back of the classroom, there is a long line of probably about 10 different observers. They are dressed formally in black suits, holding clipboards or other writing surfaces. The door to the classroom opens and a student walks up to me with a late slip that I need to sign. I sign the slip. Then another student enters the door…with something that needed to be signed. Soon, there is a constant stream of students coming in, all with papers that need my signature on them. The black-suits in the back of the classroom scribble down on their notepads as I scrawl my name on slip after slip after slip…

Of course, my actual observation was nothing like my dream. I had the nicest, most down-to-earth woman ever as my observer. She was great.

One thought on “First Day Jitters

  1. New courses always twist us around a bit – I have one this semester too. On the bright side, as yours is an elective, odds are good that the students taking the course have a legit interest and want to be there. I don’t think you have to hide that you’re still getting a grasp on the material either… you’ll probably relate to their struggles a bit better, even. I know whenever I come to the finance unit, I pretty much announce, “This is my weak one! Make sure to check my work.” (I actually don’t make that many mistakes, but I like to think it makes them more alert.) Anyway, all the best with it, and with the school!

    As to the dream, at least it was one of those where you remain fully clothed.

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