Every single year, right before school begins, I seem to find myself consumed with doubt and worry.
I think it is the anticipation that builds in the weeks leading up to the actual arrival of our students. We spend these weeks sitting alone in our classrooms, trying to make sure that our classrooms send the messages that we want them to send. We spend these weeks thinking about what we will teach in those oh-so-important first days of school. We spend these weeks imagining the classroom communities that we will build.
And yet there are no students yet to surround us. There are no students to make this all feel worthwhile. There are no students to inspire us, motivate us, challenge us, push us. There are no students yet.
And so what we are left with are thoughts and empty spaces.
And it is in these empty spaces that I start to worry.
I worry that I will not be good enough. I worry that I will not be the teacher that my students will need me to be. I worry that I will not be patient enough. I worry that any previous success that I have had with students was merely a fluke, a stroke of luck. I worry that all that I say I want to do will not actually come to fruition once the chaos of the school year sets in. I worry that I will stray from what I believe in. I worry that I will forget to listen to the people who matter most, my students. I worry that my first lessons will not be as powerful as I want them to be. I worry that I will have forgotten how to build community. I worry that I will let myself be overcome by the negativity we are so often surrounded by. I worry that I will snap at kids who have done nothing other than do their very best. I worry that I will not make our work meaningful enough. I worry that I will not find the most authentic purposes for writing. I worry that I will not have the perfect book for the student who has yet to discover that there is such a thing as a perfect book for every reader.
There is so much to worry about.
And the problem for me is, when I don’t have my students there with me, there is no one that matters enough to reassure me. Because my coworkers can tell me that it will be fine, my administrators can tell me that it will be fine, my own family can tell me that it will be fine, but until my students show me that we are all in this together and show me that it really is going to be fine, nothing else really matters.
So until then, until my students arrive, I will go back to what I know to be true. What matters most is that I love them. What matters most is that I greet them with a smile and accept them as they are when they first walk through our door. What matters most is that I show them that in this classroom we are all loved for being exactly who we are.
And the other stuff. Well, we will figure that all out together.