First day of classes never the same for educators
How did the first day of school go? It depends who you ask.
For a teacher of 21 years at Frenship High School, the day went smoothly.
Connie Pfanmiller teaches English at Frenship, and she said no first day has ever been the same. That’s partially because every year, she tries to think of new ways to engage her classes.
“You think that you would just pull out your same repertoire. But you really do, every year, learn something new,” Pfanmiller said. “You’re constantly thinking, ‘How can I reach them?’ You try to plan and make it better and figure out ways to reach them and to bond with them.”
Pfanmiller said first impressions really do count, and the first few minutes of each class can set the tone for the entire year.
So she said she walks a delicate tightrope of trying to make things fun and interesting from the first day, yet setting guidelines, rules and expectations at the same time.
“This is my 21st year, and every year is a new adventure,” she said.
This year, she said the day went smoothly.
“Really, there weren’t any kinks. The students, they were all there, they were respectful, they listened, they responded,” Pfanmiller said.
In trying to get to know her students, she asked about their summer. One said he had learned some music and gymnastics.
“He stood up and did a backflip in the middle of my class. And I was thinking, ‘Way to go!’ ” Pfanmiller said. She said she was also very grateful he didn’t hurt himself with the stunt, which she never saw coming.
Pfanmiller said she remembers when she was a newer teacher that her schedule was changed the day before school started. That first day of school was her worst, and she said it took a while to get her class on track.
“I got another completely different class,” she said. “So all my planning was not complete.”
Across the district at Oak Ridge Elementary School, Katrina Hall said her very first day as a teacher in a kindergarten class was challenging.
“I think it’s going to be a good challenge,” she said.
While a few didn’t know how to conform to school rules and procedures, others cried when dropped off in her classroom.
“I was told that on the first day, they’re always really quiet and shy and they do everything that you say, and it was, like, totally opposite,” Hall said. “I think tomorrow will be a lot smoother.”
With school supplies scattered around the room, Hall said she expected to stay at school until at least 7 p.m. putting away all of the new supplies parents brought. She also expects to change a few things up.
“There’s a lot of things that I’ll have to tweak,” she said. “The way that I envision teaching something is not always the way that I’m going to teach it. Because if they’re not interested, I have to change it.”
But Hall said she remains excited about teaching.
“I still enjoyed it. I knew what I was getting myself into, teaching kindergarten,” she said. “Teaching kindergarten is what makes me want to be a teacher, because I feel like it’s a foundation age.”
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