1st Day of School – A Mom’s Reflection

Today was the 1st day of school for my teenagers.

Here’s how the conversation went at dinner tonight:

Mom: How was the 1st day of school?
Kids:  Boring!
Mom: Seriously, aren’t you excited about the year ahead?
Kids (in unison) NO!
Mom::  Well, what did your teachers say? They must have been so excited that you were here, and about all the things you will do this year?
Kids: Are you kidding?
Mom: Nope-not kidding!  Did one teacher act or say they were excited?
Kids: Kids: laughing now!
Mom: What did happen today? What did teachers have to say?
Kids: You know, same old stuff, rules,schedule, class assignments, stuff to we HAVE-TO do.
Mom: In a total of 12 teachers, not one expressed excitement, enthusiasm, passion about learning and school?
Kids: Done talking about school
Mom: Crying!
Dad: Why do you even ask: you know how school is!

I know how I wish school to be. I know how some schools already are. And, most importantly, I know that school and learning is the 21st Century absolutely must be a  GET TO DO not a HAVE TO DO.  I am just waiting for that to be “how school is” everyday!


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  • Graeme Campbell

    I agree, that is quite disheartening to hear, and I suspect that many teachers did exactly that.  I have the same surprise as you though that 12 teachers all failed to sound or say they were excited.

    Could I simply suggest, however, the old adage that teachers and parents have agreed to for years – “If you believe half of what your child says about me, I’ll believe half of what they say about you” :)

  • Michelle TeGrootenhuis

    Hmmm…Makes my wish all that more challenging, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

    Short, sweet and meaningful post. I like it Angela.

  • Anonymous

    Love this post & would like to take it up over at the Head’s Office.  How can schools help with those questions? I don’t suppose your teens are the only ones to apparently not have had anything happen! Should schools consciously do something to make that first day memorable? 

  • http://twitter.com/MZazeela Marc Zazeela

    Good teachers will get kids excited.  I can remember a few.  Average teachers are boring and uninspiring.  Thanks for the cool perspective, Angela.

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Marc- You are spot on. We remember and learn from teachers that are passionate and excited! It should be a job requirement IMHO! 

  • Jon Becker

    Angela, what if this were done in the reverse? What if a teacher bad-mouthed parents (or, even, you) for not having their kids prepared for school the way they think parenting should happen? Would that be OK? No, the teacher would be disciplined for such an action.

    I’m cool with making general observations about schooling, but I’ll never single out and criticize my kids’ teachers, school, etc. in a public space. I vote for using these public spaces as models of good citizenship.

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Graeme-
    A quite agree with you. The post is highlighting the totality of the school experience rather than an interaction with one specific teacher. I suspect that one or two teachers expressed some sort of excitement and enthusiasm, but what I am questioning is the overall experience. 

    Do kids walk away from school each day feeling better than when they walked through the doors?

    Do kids remember their experience as on that was a “GET  TO DO” of a “HAVE TO DO”?

    We are influenced by our experiences. 

    My worry is that when students think of school and learning and more importantly think of school, the first words they associate are boring, dispassionate, and irrelevant. 

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Graeme-
    A quite agree with you. The post is highlighting the totality of the school experience rather than an interaction with one specific teacher. I suspect that one or two teachers expressed some sort of excitement and enthusiasm, but what I am questioning is the overall experience. 

    Do kids walk away from school each day feeling better than when they walked through the doors?

    Do kids remember their experience as on that was a “GET  TO DO” of a “HAVE TO DO”?

    We are influenced by our experiences. 

    My worry is that when students think of school and learning and more importantly think of school, the first words they associate are boring, dispassionate, and irrelevant. 

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    I agree. I do not think it is an unreasonable expectation that kids leave the first day of school feeling excited, hopeful, and ready for the year! 

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    I agree. I do not think it is an unreasonable expectation that kids leave the first day of school feeling excited, hopeful, and ready for the year! 

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Yes indeed it does! I am passionate this subject. School should be a place where every kids wants to be. If we continue to accept that school is school, and it is just something we have to get through, we become a part of the problem rather than the solution. 

    Teachers like you and thousands of others I meet work hard everyday to define a new story of what school can be!

    It all starts with a smile and a wish…right?

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Yes indeed it does! I am passionate this subject. School should be a place where every kids wants to be. If we continue to accept that school is school, and it is just something we have to get through, we become a part of the problem rather than the solution. 

    Teachers like you and thousands of others I meet work hard everyday to define a new story of what school can be!

    It all starts with a smile and a wish…right?

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Thanks Adam! 

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Thanks Adam! 

  • Tom Whitby

    I often said to parents that If you take with a grain of salt what kids say about teachers at the dinner table, I will take with a grain of salt what they say about you in school.

  • Tom Whitby

    I often said to parents that If you take with a grain of salt what kids say about teachers at the dinner table, I will take with a grain of salt what they say about you in school.

  • http://blogs.msdn.com/alfredth alfredthompson

    I’m not sure students are impartial observers of the first day of school. So much of what they report is the world seen though their own filters. Perhaps the teachers were not excited. Perhaps they were tired from several days of boring uninspiring in-service training. That can be downright painful – it often was for me when I was teaching. But perhaps the students themselves were just not in the mood to be inspired or excited. The first day is not always a good measure of how the year will go.

  • http://blogs.msdn.com/alfredth alfredthompson

    I’m not sure students are impartial observers of the first day of school. So much of what they report is the world seen though their own filters. Perhaps the teachers were not excited. Perhaps they were tired from several days of boring uninspiring in-service training. That can be downright painful – it often was for me when I was teaching. But perhaps the students themselves were just not in the mood to be inspired or excited. The first day is not always a good measure of how the year will go.

  • Linda Clinton

    In many schools, the expectation from the administration is that everyone is to go over classroom rules and procedures on the first day. Granted this can be done in a variety of ways. Even as adults in work settings, there are things we “have to” do. And since now the purpose of school is to get students “college and career ready,” going over the “have tos” on the first day is right in line with that goal. (OK, so that last line was somewhat tongue-in-cheek.)

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    I agree with that Linda, but we lose the message in the delivery! Just asking to position school is a GET TO DO first, and then follow with here’s how we make that happen, the rules we must commit to and follow, etc….

    When you are doing something that matters, with people who think you matter to, …you want to know the rules! You want to do whatever it takes to be successful in that kind of community. 

    Beginning the work with mission, vision, and purpose is significant preparation for college, career, and life. 

    So appreciate you sharing this angle. Great points. 

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Agreed Alfred. Perception is reality. My point is how the overall perception of school is boring, irrelevant, etc…there are too many stories of what is going right with schools, and teachers changing lives everyday for this to be a significant perception.

    Another great point about not judging the entire year on one day. I know how important first impressions are. 

    Thanks for the comment.

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Yes, very true Tom. I do take much of what they say with a grain of salt. I am not expecting every day to be riveting, and understand the importance of hard difficult work. My frustrations stemming from the perceptions on the first day!

  • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

    Jon,

    Point taken Jon. I absolutely believe in teachers, try to support them in every way I know how. I highlight and celebrate in person and online, teachers and school doing amazing things and changing kids lives. 

    I am also human. Maybe a mistake to get personal and specific. I should have been clearer in my message that this is a systems issue, a perception issue, not a singe school or teacher issue. 

    My kids have had dedicated, passionate, loving teachers, but as a general perception and trend, every year I have watched their enthusiasm wane, their spirit dampen, and their passion and excitement for learning completely disappear. 

    I perhaps should have communicate this with a more generic example, but my passion and concern is genuine. We need to,as you have pointed out, change the narrative. 

    Thanks for taking time to comment on this post.

  • http://www.steppingstonestogether.com/ Erika Burton

    It saddens me to think that one day my enthusiastic 3rd grader who told me, “I wish summer vacation was 5 days long. I want to go back to school already.” will share such a negative view of school. Can’t high school teachers get a dose of Harry Wong’s First Days of School? We need all kids big and small to come home shouting, “School is cool!” Am I living in a fantasy world?
    Erika Burton, Ph.D.
    Stepping Stones Together, Founder
    Empowering parental involvement in early literacy programs
    http://www.steppingstonestogether.com

  • Outsourcing Today

    Critics help in molding. But I have nothing to criticize about your blog but truly appreciate the way you present. You have the art of presenting and writing. Keep up the good work.Keep up the good work

  • sarah crumbell

    i agree

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