So what did I learn today, today on my very first day of school? Well, I guess this is really my second, well my third, fourth very first day of school if we are measuring life on a timeline. Anyways, I have to admit that I don't feel I learned anything dramatic or life changing about my students or about the world, but I learned something perspective altering about myself. I have never been around normal students. I have never been in a class with people who have trouble. I have never before experienced average.
On my very first day of school ever, I went to Holy Trinity Episcopal School in Melbourne, Florida, wearing a green plaid jumper and white Oxford shirt likely paired with black Mary Janes as my mother was fond of dressing me in. It is in this outfit that I spent the next ten years of my life, at a school where 90% of my friends were the children of either doctors or business owners. As far as I know, every one of the twenty nine other students I shared those years with has been college bound.
My second very first day of school was at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School where I was one of fifty students who graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma and a load of AP credits. At the time, I had become quite a fashionable little surfer girl, so I am sure I was rocking some sort of too short shorts, volcom t-shirt, and skate shoes. The entire time I was there I was not only in accelerated academic classes, but my choice of elective was at times more difficult than my actual classes. Let me put it this way, my senior year I was an International Science and Engineering Fair Delegate. I graduated with IB, AP, NHS, and a weighted GPA of something outrageously unnecessary like a 4.7.
My third very first day of school was at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. By this time I was like most college girls, alternating between sweats and college t-shirts and cute dresses, depending on the day of the week. While starting my studies as an Environmental Engineer, and transferring all around the academic realm of higher educational fields, I found what I wanted to do. I graduated with a double major in English and Environmental Earth Science. It was during this experience that I found something more important than school, I found out how to be truly passionate for myself. I found my love of teaching through the university's outdoor leadership program. And so I'm here today,today on my fourth very first day of school.
I arrived very early, dressed in a sleek and simple black skirt, yellow top, and my favorite grey sweater, to pick our class up from the gym. There I stood, on the other side of the wall, they were looking at me, I was looking at them, they were watching me. As I walked them to our room, a dress code violation nightmare of blue plaid skirts, shorts, too many bracelets, oxford shirts, Nike sneakers, and slacks, I realized something, but I'm not entirely sure how to explain it. All that I can really comprehend is that by the end of that class I realized that I had no idea how hard the things that in my experience seem to be so simple, can be so hard for a student who struggles, a student who was not as privileged and lucky, no, as blessed as I have been. I have a distinctly different comprehension, a distinctly different perception than these students. This I think will be my greatest challenge.
From our teaching instructors, we've been told a lot lately that our students will struggle with this our students will struggle with that. I learned today that I do not even know what the word struggle means. I have never struggled, not with anything. Things have been hard for me, but more because I chose to make them hard on myself. My fear now is how can I teach an individual who's experience and reality I have no comprehension of?; Yes, I have been a seventh grader, yes I have been in middle school, but I have never been a struggling seventh grader. I have never been a struggling student.
With this as a realization, I hope that something is said about my aptitude for success or at least my desire to be challenged. The class I found myself most drawn to today, my first day of school on the other side of the wall, was the class I have been warned will be my hardest class. Because I saw them struggle, and they kept going. I hope that I will be able to do the same, I will be able to keep going.
I do not intend for this to be my last very first day of school.