Looking around the silent room I was very pleased, yet very nervous. This was my classroom. I was a teacher, and in a few short minutes my students would arrive through the door. With great anticipation I surveyed the room. The classroom was sparkling with color. “Welcome to second grade,” read a large banner. The front door, ready to greet the children, was filled with many yellow stars each bearing a student’s name, and one larger star that read “Mrs. B’s 2nd Grade Superstars”. On the table laid a kaleidoscope of puzzle pieces, each piece was colorfully decorated with a student’s name. I would explain to my students that the puzzle was like our classroom. Each piece, like each one of us, is an important part of our community. With all of us learning, playing and working together we would become one whole. The desks were clean and orderly. Sitting atop each desk, next to their name plate, was a small red apple tied with a green ribbon and a personal note of welcome. Today, it was an apple for the student! From the lights above I hung more stars, each one once again, with a child’s name. I really wanted each student to walk into our classroom and know that this is a place where they belong. More than a warm welcome, I wanted them to feel accepted – totally accepted at first sight.
I shared something special with my students – not only was this my first day as a teacher – this too, was their first day in a new school. Many if not all of my students were coming to school today not knowing any other student. They were not returning to an old school filled with familiar faces, but rather facing new teachers in portables sitting amidst a construction site.
I took an excited breath as the first sweet child, a sparkling clean little boy, wearing his new backpack, walked up the metal ramp with one hand holding his lunchbox and the other clutching his mom’s hand. Kneeling down I extended my hand and introduced myself. With a hesitant smile the boy shook my hand and told me his name.
Over the next ten minutes the room became alive with chatter and laughter. I was busy meeting children, showing them their new desks and introducing them to each other. Helping them find the words to make a new friend. Soothing the nerves of parents, I shared a few words to help put them at ease. I happily draped my arms around my young students as their parents snapped those first-day-of-school photos.
Amongst the whirlwind of activity I heard a familiar voice. Glancing to the back of the room I saw my mom casually chatting with one of the parents. They were comparing notes – this was a first day for both of their daughters. As our eyes meet I saw the pride in her face – she was here to share this wonderful moment with me. With the camera in her hand, my mom recorded her daughter’s first day of school.