227 – The First Week of School

Group of teenagers sitting in classroom with raised hands.

We all remember those final days of summer vacation, as months of late night games of tag and ding-dong-ditch slowly give way to that unsettling mixture of dread and excitement – the arrival of which can mean only one thing: the new school year is approaching. It’s a season that brings new clothes, new notebooks, and new possibilities. Or at least it does when you are a child. As an adult firmly entrenched in a day job as an education professional, all of the excitement has given way to the dread. And a lot of frustration.

As of this week, I’ve seen three “first day(s) of school” since I started working at the Unnamed High School in South Central (I started my first year in October, so that one doesn’t count). They are always hectic, but they also invariably go pretty well. Unlike the high school I attended for four years, my school of employment does not tend to have fights or any major problems on the first day.

But it is never long before the true personalities come out. And I don’t just mean the kids. The faculty and staff are just as guilty of being on their best behavior (that’s a crime now in my eyes).

My school is currently going through a transitional phase. We have both a brand new principal and assistant principal, meaning that the entire culture of the school is up for grabs. The more political members of the staff will take this opportunity to grab as much power as they can (and talk about it non-stop), while the more wary will sit back and wait for the dust to settle. A few unlucky souls will hang back a bit too long, and end up getting trampled by the scavengers, but that kind of pseudo-Darwinian reality is sometimes what the staid education realm desperately needs.

It is still too early to tell for sure, but the new blood’s increased attention to concepts like “organization” and “consistency” seems to be having positive effects on the school itself. After five long days the students are still relatively well-behaved – a huge relief for members of the support staff. For those of you worried that the new administration might remove all of Unnamed’s former “glory,” fear not. The teachers still complain a lot. There’s always something to complain about. That’s one thing that will never change.

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