I am convinced the first day back after the Christmas and New Year holidays is the toughest one of the year.
We stay up late, eat all the wrong things, and get all off schedule. We travel, play video games, read favorite books, ski, and sleep late. And, then, we go back to the routine of school.
The last thing my students wanted to do today was work.
And I felt the same.
Yet, I started the day with a tradition our English teachers started last year–each of us reciting a memorized poem to the entire student body to introduce our school's involvement in "Poetry Out Loud."
As the minutes clicked away, I felt myself becoming more and more nervous, sure I would trip over a word or forget a line. My poem, "When I am Asked," by Lisa Mueller, was short enough and meaningful to me, yet I began to feel my heart pound.
And then it was time. Other than one long pause before a nearly-forgotten line, I was, well, ok.
The experience made me much more empathetic about what I was about to ask of my students. They will be memorizing and reciting a poem, reading Antigone, studying Greek tragedy, and writing a one-act play. Oh, and they will be sharing the planning of how we will handle all this.
So, I adjusted my lesson plans on the fly, wanting to slow down today. I wanted to have a chance to greet them, talk about their time off, to share where we will be going this semester. Let them wake up. It was good to see them smile and laugh.
Sometimes taking a step back is better than full steam ahead.