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Back to School Rush, Panic, and Fun


Laurie Stenehjem, a graduate of North Dakota State University and a teacher with more than 25 years experience, is a mentor in the Grand Forks Middle School Resident Teacher Program.

One of the wonderful things about our profession is that we get to start all over again every year. Even as we sigh over the end of another summer, most of us get that rush of excitement over the thought of new faces, new lessons, new bulletin boards, and everything fresh and ready for the first day.

I know that you are oh-so-ready with everything -- your room is arranged, your lesson plans are full of promise, and your head is full of hopes and doubts. I can't wait for you to actually get started! With everything else so ready, I fear your doubts are really starting to multiply and grow. It will be good for you to get real students in your room on Monday, when you'll realize that you have done this before -- in your pre-service training -- and can begin to appreciate all the time you've had to practice. I know you have a wonderful background, a great desire, and a willingness to work hard, and those traits will serve you well.

You are wondering about what to do on that first full day of school. The messages that I always want to send my students on the first day are these: "I'm really looking forward to getting to know you. I care about you. I care that you will learn a lot while you're in this class. I'm the adult in charge; I'm here to make sure that you are safe and comfortable and that your time here will be important and well used."

Just look at what you have planned, and make sure all those messages are very clear. Remember, you will have a whole school year to work together, so everything doesn't have to be done in one day. With your training and ability to be a reflective teacher, and with me here to bounce things off, we'll just keep working through the year to make sure that the messages you send are the messages the students hear.

I'm really looking forward to working with you and the others this year. It's a thrill for me to see wonderful young folks like you entering our profession. I want you to remember that, together with all the other folks involved in our school, we'll always be able to find ways to meet any challenges you face. Dive in and enjoy -- you've got lots of new friends to meet on Monday.

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Article by Laurie Stenehjem
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