Friday, 11 August 2017

I've got that "Back to School" Feeling

It's {insert audible sigh here} mid August, and like many teachers, I'm thinking and planning for the new school year.  "Where has the summer gone?" I ask myself as the days on the calendar seem to speed by like transport trucks on the highway.

In July, the wheat is a shimmering gold ocean that waves at you in the soft breezes of a hot summer day.  It's a symbol of the freedom of summer and it seems to be whispering to me..."No rush.   Summer is here.  Relax.  Recharge.  Ride the wind of freedom, my girl."  

August arrives.  The wheat is fully ripened and at the peak of it's beauty, and it's harvested.  Now the field is full of bales of straw, and the wheat goes to be milled into my future sandwich bread.  The crickets start looking for mates and I hear them sing at night.  The days are not quite as hot, and the evenings start to cool down a bit.   The days are even starting to be noticeably shorter and the sun sets a bit earlier every evening that passes.  

But the surest sign of all that summer is nearly over...the "Back to School" ads start airing on t.v., radio and in the advertising fliers that arrive each week at my door.  And I know, it's time to start planning.

I got to thinking about how I felt about "Back to School" time when I was a student.  Those were exciting days.  What had my friends done all summer?  Remember, that these were the days before smartphones and Facebook and Twitter, so I hadn't seen pictures of my friends trips or summer camp or days spent at the beach.  I lived in the country (as my love of wheat fields may have revealed), so I hadn't seen many of my classmates all summer. I could hardly wait to see them and exchange my summer news with theirs.  

Of course, there was "Back to School" shopping.  I had grown or the fashion had changed and I needed new clothes, or shoes or school supplies.  Ahhhh, the smell of a book that had never been cracked.  The feel of a pen that had never been used in my hand, just waiting for me to write my annual epic "What I did this summer" Journal entry.  Shoes that were so white and clean that I didn't want to wear them outside.  Shoes that sat waiting in my bedroom for the first day of school - that almost glowed in the dark with their newness.  Planning out that first day back outfit.  It had to be just right.  Fashionable, yet scholarly...but not too scholarly.  Maybe my new jeans would be saved for that first day, so that the crease in them was crisp and they would rustle a bit as I walked in them because they weren't worn in yet.  It would be hot that first day back, and I would melt wearing those jeans in the humidity and body heat of a classroom in September, but I couldn't let that deter me.

The excitement would build from early August, into the dog days of summer and at last, the long Labour Day weekend.  Labour Day I would have my school bag packed with those new, and a few old but still cherished, school supplies.  My lunch would be made.  I'd have flip-flopped a few times on what outfit I would wear.  But, by about eight p.m. I'd have made a final decision and had my choice laid out and ready to go.  I'd set my alarm and go to bed early.  I wanted to be up bright and early, so as not to miss the school bus!  But, I'd be so excited I could hardly sleep.  Not quite as wired as I'd be on Christmas Eve, or even my birthday, but a very close third place to those yearly highlights on the calendar of my youth.  I'd finally drift off in the wee hours of the morning, dreaming of a year of academic triumph and social success...ready for the First Day of the new school year.

Twenty-three years into my teaching career and I still get a thrill from the First Day of School.  It's August and I'm thinking about ideas for my lessons.  I'm putting my classroom back together and creating awesome bulletin boards.  I'm ordering classroom supplies.  I still love the smell of a brand new book and the feel of a pen that's never been used in my hand, waiting for me to write that lesson plan that will engage every student in the room.  I'm working on integrating technology in my lessons and finding new ways to teach concepts.  I'm thinking about my students and what new adventures we can go on together this year, and how I can share my love for learning and growing with them.  I don't spend much time worrying about what I will wear that first day anymore.  In my advanced age, I really only care that the clothes are professional looking, clean and that I won't melt like an ice cream cone on the summer pavement wearing them in a hot, sticky, September classroom.

But, I still have trouble sleeping the night before each school year starts.  I'm ready as ready can be.  The plans are done, my goals are set, the room is spotless (thanks to our custodians who put in a summer of hard labour), the notes are ready to go home, my classroom website is set up, the supplies have arrived.  I can do no more.  Why can't I sleep?

Because I'm excited!  The kids are excited!  I'm sure that every parent out there is just as excited, if not more.  It's that "Back to School" feeling.  If only I could bottle that feeling and spray it on every student each day, so that they were THAT EXCITED to come back to school every day.  What a school year that would be.

So that's my goal.  I might not reach the heights of the first day back each and every day, but I'm going to do my best to share a little of that "Back to School" feeling throughout the year.

Bloggers note:  Thanks to Stephen Hurley at VoicEdRadio "Changing the way you talk about education," for inspiring this blog with his call out for "Back to School" Memories to share on air.     You can share yours on his flipgrid topic,  by following him on Twitter @Stephen_Hurley or by following VoicEdRadio @voicEdCanada.  Better yet, listen to the broadcasts live at  There's lots of great topics to learn about and if you miss it live, they are archived on the site.
A shout out also to @kraekerc who got me thinking again about my blog and encouraged me to get cracking!  Thanks, Cliff!

I also welcome your comments.  Please share them and any ideas you have for keeping that "Back to School" feeling alive all year!

Blogger's Addendum:
This post was featured in VoicEdRadio's "This Week in Ontario EduBlogs".  If you would like to hear the discussion between Doug Peterson and Stephen Hurley, please check out this link.

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