How I Survived My First Day Teaching

I survived my first day of teaching.  Glory, glory, hallelujah.

In fact, not only did I survive, I kind of loved it. Despite the fact that so many things went wrong it made my head spin, I’m excited to go back tomorrow.

What?  No.  That can’t be right.

True story folks.  I have feared this day for pretty much the entire summer.  Since April, nightmares have plagued my sleep about nude teaching, forgetting my entire lesson plan, and students who attack me.

This would be tame compared to what my nightmares look like.
This would be tame compared to what my nightmares look like.

Of course, the teaching nightmares never really end, do they?  I had nightmares ALL Sunday night before school on Monday. I didn’t sleep past 4:00 am because of all the “what if” scenarios running through my head. I was at school at 6:30 (even though we don’t have to be there until 7:30), just so I could make SURE nothing went wrong.

Here is everything that went wrong.

First of all, you know that nightmare where you walk into class and there’s no furniture?  Yeah, that was reality for me.  My charter school is brand new, and some furniture order on the East coast got mixed up and BAM: no furniture.  We borrowed ugly, old, mostly broken furniture from a local high school.  I had exactly one teacher desk and twenty four mis-matched student desks.  And nothing else.  My books were stacked against the wall.  I was told I couldn’t hang posters until after the furniture came in.  Not exactly the first impression you want students (or parents, for that matter) to have about your classroom.

Students were supposed to be taken out of first period for pictures. First period is my planning period. Excellent, nothing in my life was to be affected by this. HA. Well, the camera guy screwed up and wasn’t ready until third period, at which point they realized, “Hey, let’s take students out of Mrs. M’s class.” So I basically had three periods where students did nothing but take pictures and I barely got to tell them my name.

I got a nosebleed in one class. Like, a BAD nosebleed. Thank goodness: an aid was in the room with me. I threw my attendance sheet at her and ran out of the room.

I had lunch duty (yay charter school: we wear a lot of hats), and NONE of us knew what we were doing. Three teachers were assigned this and we kind of sauntered down to the lunchroom and were met with angry aids (we share our building with an elementary school) who wanted to know why we weren’t doing X Y and Z of something we were never told to do.

And THEN they wanted to argue with us about scheduling and convince our 11-13 year-olds to eat their entire lunch in 10 minutes.

THEN we had to drag the students outside (because admin has decided that middle schoolers need sunshine). The sixth graders happily ran around while the seventh and eighth graders acted like it was the most horrible thing in the world to be made to be outside on a playground.

And suddenly lunch was over. And I hadn’t eaten a thing. And I’m pregnant with the appetite of a freaking hippo. I shoved a granola bar and a handful of carrots in my mouth as I herded students back into the building. It was not pretty.

By seventh period, I literally could not stand up. I have a lovely pregnancy-related disorder that’s causing A LOT of pain in my pelvis. It gets worse with movement. After running back and forth for pictures, and chasing students around for lunch, I spent seventh period in a chair at the front of the room, which I’m 90% positive is one of those “Don’t ever do this on the first day” rules.

And you know what? I lived. In fact, in some ways, I kind of enjoyed it. We were all (including the students) laughing about it all. It’s a new school, new rules, new students. Whatever. There are worse things in the world.

Point is: you can handle your first day. Even if everything in the world goes wrong. You’ll live to teach another day.


This post originally appeared on in August 2015

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