Do you remember being new? Remember that first time you had to just sit down or step up and engage with a whole new group of people? That first moment, when you are grasping your lunch tray, your backpack full over your arm, and you have to ask those cool cats sitting at that table with the empty seat…is it ok if I sit down. Some of you have only experienced it in your school years, but for me that moment is very fresh.
For the last 4 days I have been inundated with information, handouts, forms, power points, lists, and books. Not to say that these things have been bad or boring, they have just been overwhelming in sheer scope. I have introduced myself a billion times, and struggled to remember names while shaking hands. Each night I arrive home exhausted, as if I have just run a half marathon. My mind and body are fatigued beyond measure.
Then there are the numerous questions to ask and be answered. Where do I find garbage bags? Does anyone want these stacks of student work from 2006 stored on this dusty shelf? Where are the thumbtacks? Can I get these copied by Wednesday? Where is the nearest bathroom? When will I get a key to my room? Why isn’t the staff portal showing up on my Finder? When do I need to get this form back to you by? Will I be ready for Tuesday? What if I fail?
At some point I relax. I reassure myself…I can do this. I got this covered. I’ve done this before and I’m still here to testify.
So imagine what the new kids coming to school are feeling. Imagine what those poor sweet 6th graders are worried about. They are all feeling the same things. What if I don’t make any friends? What if I can’t find the bathroom? Will I get a locker that I can reach? Will my teachers like me? Will I like my teachers? Am I prepared? What if I fail?
If there is one thing that moving to a new school does, it makes me keenly aware of the hopes and fears that my students have on day one. Starting fresh, whether exciting or terrifying, whether they wanted this change or not, is hard. You have to be a risk taker, put yourself out there, and hope for the best. You have to have the courage to ask questions and be an advocate for yourself. You need to learn the culture and the language, even if the language and culture are not foreign. In the first two days they will have more information thrown at them than they will know what to do with. Some students will thrive on this new challenge, and some will not. But that is where I come in. I can walk alongside them and say, “You know it is scary sometimes, being new. I know; I’m new too. I wonder who my new friends will be. But at the end of the year, we will look back on this moment and wonder what all the fuss was about.”
We have all struggled to be known and accepted. We have all failed and have learned from our failures. So as you greet your new students, and pass out your syllabi, remember…we were all new kids once.