I told this to a young friend of mine last week as she prepared to start a new school year in a new school, but when I shared this tidbit with her, my own back to school jitters hadn't kicked in yet. I was still a week away from meeting my students and jump starting the school year routine.
This week, it's my turn.
The night before last, sheer exhaustion took over. After falling asleep in front of the television, I succumbed to my heavy eyelids and went to bed an hour or more before my usual too-late bedtime. I fell asleep right away, and woke up ready to tackle yesterday's jitters, which proved to be unnecessary (as usual).
Last night was an entirely different matter. Once again, I went to bed earlier than usual, tired out by all of the excitement of my first day. But last night, I tossed and turned like a soldier headed for the trenches rather than a professor heading for a room full of freshmen.
Never mind that my class yesterday was wonderful. Technology that worked. Students who smiled and participated. An ease about the subject matter that I hadn't fully accomplished this time last year.
Today is another day. New day, new class. New subject matter. New (very new) students.
Freshmen. The one group of students likely to be more on edge than I am.
After spending twenty-seven years with amazing teachers who make everything look easy, I know I'm not alone. Every August, we commiserated at Inservice about the night-before-the-first-day nerves that stole sleep and peace of mind. It was a nervous excitement, as much joyful anticipation (about meeting the kids) as actual fear (about everything else), but it nudged sleep just out of reach as our brains spun through the lists of things we'd done and things that still awaited, particularly those things that were out of our hands.
I'm ready -- or at least I think I am. I also know that as soon as I meet those students and begin speaking, I will be fine. But, as I told a friend yesterday, anticipation is not my friend. It roils my stomach and rattles my nerves. It raises doubts that no number of to-do lists and no sets of plans can fully hold at bay.
I'm looking forward to meeting my new students today and delving into my new plans. And yes, putting those freshmen at ease, bringing their fears into alignment with my own and guiding them into a harmonic decrescendo. That characteristic of a counselor cannot be excised.