After all of the excitement of travelling to Europe and back, starting my first day of TE 401, MSU vs. Boise St. football, and a Labor Day wedding, the first day of school for K-12 public education in Michigan seemed to arrive with little fanfare. It wasn’t until I was getting ready in the morning on Tuesday that I realized that I was going to my dissertation school and meeting the students that I will be working with to collect my data. It seemed to be such an afterthought to my busy August that I got nervous that  I was under-prepared somehow.

Turns out, I had forgotten that not a lot of learning (other than socialization and classroom culture) happens on the first day of school. We played a name game so I can remember everyone’s names (and I have them down now–remembering names is my specialty), and I helped them fill out their agendas and learn the signing in for hot or cold lunch (and really, all but 1 took hot lunch because it’s “free and reduced”), and gave a lot of handshakes and hugs. I had also forgotten how crazy the first day of school is–it’s been 4 years since I had a K-12 teacher version. We had a kid in the wrong room, some leave, some enter, confusion about which special class they had…all typical but I was exhausted. Day 2 was much easier–I was even able to explain to them why I was there and what we would be working on together over the next few months. It is really real now.

Believe it or not, after my first day with them I wasn’t finished. I left at noon to head to East Lansing for another meeting about my proposal. I reviewed all of the changes I had made over the summer with The Committee and they were really positive about my work. Describing all that I did this summer out loud made me realize that I actually did get a lot accomplished, and seemingly with a clear focus. I felt the most proud of myself about this–in the past, working at NHA had caused my brain to be split-focused and although that is feasibly possible to get through that way, I am glad I chose not to continue on like that. It was good validation that, so far, it appears that I have made the right choice by leaving NHA. These kiddos will need my undivided attention and I want to do their work, thoughts, and opinions justice in my writing by doing the best that I can.

The classroom teacher I’m working with had this posted by her desk and it made me smile:

I am going to practice being awesome this semester for sure. And I’m beginning it with a positive attitude and a readiness to move forward…