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Rich Henderson's Diary
The First 180 Days


Rich Henderson, a lawyer, always dreamed of being a teacher. Last year, he gave up his law career and returned to the classroom to earn his teaching certification. This year, his dream finally comes true in a fifth-grade classroom in suburban Woodbury, Connecticut. Each week during this school year -- Rich's first year in the classroom -- he will share with Education World readers his thoughts and feelings about his first 180 days!

Rich's Diary: Well, I Made It

Week 2

Whew, I did it. I made it through the first few days of school. All of the planning and preparation has paid off. I have discussed the rules, procedures, and routines, and I have begun the lessons and assigned the homework. The first few days are over, and I have experienced two things: The nervousness that I was feeling has given way to both excitement and enjoyment, and my lesson planning has become more structured.

No, the crying that was heard on the first day of school was not from me -- honest. Although, when I heard those sounds of anxiety coming from a kindergarten classroom, my first thought was simply, "Kid, I know how you feel." New school, new friends, new routine, and new responsibilities can be overwhelming for both the kindergartner and the first-year teacher. Yet, I knew that both that 5-year-old and I would make it through that first day -- and we did. With the support, guidance, and advice of others, enthusiasm and anticipation replaced those first-day jitters. Both of us made it through that day better for the experience -- although I'm certain she left school earlier than I did.

What, there's more planning to do?! The relief that I felt after the first day of school was soon met with the reality that there are many other days to plan for -- another 181 to be exact. At first glance, the task of preparing lessons and activities for the immediate future appeared to be quite a challenge. Yet, with the first day behind me, planning for the rest of the week was much easier and more organized. I had a better sense of my classroom schedule and what I needed to accomplish and by when. Knowing that made lesson planning much easier and more effective for me.

Well, the first week of school is over, and I survived it. Like the 5-year-old, I was not sure whether I was fully prepared for my first few days of school. Yet, as the week went on, the greatest realization came, not just knowing that I was well prepared for my students, but how much I enjoyed being a teacher. I know that the school year has just started and some people may say that such a feeling is fleeting. But I disagree. I know that I have never experienced such satisfaction in any occupation that I have ever had. For me, no other job can compare with the joy that comes from being a teacher. So, in the upcoming days, when that same nervous kindergartner skips through the school hallways with an expression of sheer delight, I will look at her and say, "Kid, I know how you feel."

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Rich Henderson
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