Whether you’re a student or a teacher, the first day of school can be scary as hell.

My sister, who is brilliant and had zero reason whatsoever to be wound up, always had awful bouts of anxiety before a new school year began.  I once had a student that skipped the first day of school every year because it freaked him out so bad.  He would show up on the second day and be fine – go figure.

When I was just a wee Drakelet going through school, though, I was pretty chill about the beginning of school.  To me, it was just another day – whether it was Day 1 or Day 100, it was still school.

Then I became a teacher, and the nightmares started.

I don’t think I had a nightmare before my first day of my rookie year, because the nervousness resulting from having my own classroom and my own students for the first time kept me from sleeping at all.  But almost every year after that, I had some kind of nightmare in the day or two before school started.  One year I dreamed that I couldn’t remember any American history and the kids attacked me because I couldn’t teach them anything.  Another year I dreamed that the principal had decided that I should teach math instead of history.

This is apparently not a phenomenon limited to history teachers – a simple search of “teacher nightmares” on Twitter will yield plenty of teacher testimonials like this one.  During one of our recent workdays, reigning Piedmont Laureate and RTHS drama/English teacher Ian Finley told me about a doozy of a teacher nightmare he once had.  See, I’ve heard of actor nightmares, and I’ve heard of teacher nightmares, but Ian had an actor teacher nightmare (Wonder Twin powers activate!).  The gist was that he got to school on the first day and discovered that he was to teach a whole class full of aspiring actors in a space that was about 10 feet square.  Racking his brain to figure out how to proceed, he decided that he would have them do articulation exercises to hone their voice work, only to discover that all of his students spoke Spanish.  He then presumably woke up screaming with the Psycho violin screeches wailing in the background.  I know I would be.

I don’t know if I’ll have a teacher nightmare tonight or tomorrow night; I hope I don’t, but I probably will.  I’m way more anxious about  the first day now than I ever was as a student, because the first day sets the tone for the entire year.  Go in unprepared, and the kids will know it and eat you alive.  The good news is that my teacher workdays at RTHS have been the most productive of my career – no useless workshops, no meaningless trainings, no time-wasting.  I feel more prepared than I’ve ever been, and I can’t wait to get in front of them on Monday.

I just pray to God that most of them speak English.

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