It seems that I’m destined to continue experiencing the “beginning-of-school- jitters.” As a kid, the last week (or two) of summer vacation brought about much anxiety for the upcoming school year. Would my teacher(s) be mean? Would the subject matter be extremely difficult? Would I be in classes with friends? Would I have a ton of homework each night?
I was a serious student. School wasn’t the place I went to for a fun time; school was work. Hard work. Each year was a bit of a fresh start, and it was the fear of the unknown that had me worrying and stressing days before the first bell rang.
Then I became a teacher and experienced a new set of worries. Would I be able to handle my students? Would I know what I was doing? Would I be a “good” teacher? Would teaching leave me too exhausted for other things in my life? As a kindergarten teacher, most of my worries were these rather general ones. I didn’t know my students, yet. When I became an upper-grade teacher, the worries increased slightly. Would I be able to handle such a large class? Would Jane Doe or John Smith be in my class? Would I be able to effectively teach the curriculum? After all, teaching fourth grade math is a lot different than teaching kindergarten math. And by the time kids reached fourth grade, they had reputations. I knew which students frequented the principal’s office. Those were generally not the students you hoped to see on your class roster.
Now I’m no longer teaching, but the beginning-of-school-jitters continue, on behalf of my son. In a matter of days, Ryan will be entering the first grade, and the worries have been here for over a week. Will his teacher praise effort and not just the end product? Will his teacher encourage and nurture the children in his class? Will my son have friends? Will the big kids be kind to the younger kids?
I’m doing everything I can to keep my own apprehensions away from Ryan. I will happily take on all the worries if that means he doesn’t experience the sleepless, before-school nights that I did as a kid (and teacher). I want my son to view school as a special place -- a place rich with ideas and experiments and projects. I want my son to discover things he’s good at and discover parts of his personality that he hasn’t tapped into yet.
As a teacher, I worried about the enormous responsibility I had -- keeping all those children safe and healthy while I was their teacher. Now, I’m on the other side of the desk, and I worry as I send my son out into the world.
For more than twelve years, I experienced back-to-school jitters as a student.
Then, for twelve years, I experienced back-to-school jitters as a teacher.
Now, for at least the next twelve years, I will most likely experience the back-to-school jitters as a parent.
It doesn’t seem to end.