Hi. So, uh, I guess I’m your new teacher. You’re all looking at me so expectantly, and I’m looking at you and thinking, wow, you guys are young.
I hate to say it, but I miss my old class. Those guys were awesome. We had a great thing going. Now they are all gone — except for you, Ferdinand, and I’m glad to have you back, but I notice you forgot how to speak English over the summer — and here I am with you guys. Most of you can’t write your own names, or even draw a picture of a person. A few of you were three years old just a few weeks ago. Some of you boys don’t know how to lift up the seat instead of just peeing on it.
My old boys knew how to pee in the toilet.
My old class knew how to discuss books. They knew what a Caldecott Medal was, and they had read the collected works of Jan Brett and Mo Willems, and they had more or less memorized Knuffle Bunny and Stellaluna and Strega Nona. They could count and they knew their colors. They knew how to solve problems without hitting.
I guess that’s because I taught them. I’ll teach you, too, only right now it looks like a big job. I feel like I’m one side of a huge mountain, and all I’ve got with me is a bunch of kids who were recently three years old, and they don’t really look like they know how to climb.
And then there’s the love thing. I loved my old class.
A few years ago, on the first day of school, a little girl we’ll call Caterpillar raised her hand and said, “I love you, Mrs. X.” (Actually, she said, “I yuv you, Mrs. X.”) I said, “Wow, Caterpillar, what a wonderful thing to say. I love you, too.” Then someone else raised his hand to tell me he loved me, and someone else, and pretty soon it was just a love fest at morning meeting. That first day set the tone for the whole year and that was when I got in the habit of telling my students I love them. (I still love Caterpillar, and she still loves me. I bump into her regularly around the neighborhood and she always throws her arms around me to hug me, even though I think she’s going into 2nd or 3rd grade.)
None of you told me you loved me on the first day of school. So I told you guys I loved you, even though I wasn’t quite sure if I meant it yet.
I know I will, though. I will love you wholeheartedly, all year long. Every day at the end of our time together we’ll hold hands and sing the “School Family” song, and my heart will melt a little. On the second day of school, at calendar time, I told you that tomorrow would be Saturday and we wouldn’t see each other, and my heart melted when you all went, “awww,” with disappointment.
I said, “I know, it’s sad we won’t be together. Tomorrow I’ll wake up in the morning and I will feel sad that I won’t be seeing you. And I won’t see you on Sunday, either, but then on Monday it will be great because we’ll all be together again.”
Okay, I admit I kind of meant that.
Tomorrow is Monday and we will all be together again. You’ll start learning how to write your names, and I’ll start learning to love you.
Because I’m your teacher, and that’s my job.
(Image from http://www.theposterlist.com/, an awesome resource for posters and art.)