We went back to school last Monday (8/27) and spent 90% of three days in workshops and meetings. On Wednesday we held an Open House for parents and students from 1-3 pm which was surprisingly well-attended. Although it was meant to be informal, and parents were told to come in and look around, but "teachers are working", and we were told to continue working, it just wasn't possible to continue with tasks when several sets of parents surrounded you with questions. Since the parents who came to visit my classroom were anxious because their kids were entering the great big MIDDLE school, we felt it was important to take the time to answer their questions and reassure them. I came home each day quite tired!
Thursday was the first day with kids. It was one of the best first days I've had in my career, but I have NEVER felt so fatigued as I did by the time I got home at 4:30 pm. It took every ounce of willpower to walk down to my car, drive home, and get into the house. This is one very unwelcome side effect of RA. I went to bed quite early. Friday was also a good day with the kids, but by planning time (1 pm) I was so exhausted I couldn't even eat my lunch. I was home by 3 and I took a short nap.
Aside from the alarming fatigue, this is the smoothest start to school I can remember. I share 44 6th graders with my teaching partner. I know that the first week of school is the honeymoon period, and it's rare to have behavior problems the first day or so, but I was quite impressed with their listening skills. We do a whole grade activity on the 2nd afternoon which requires absolute silence and nonverbal communication. (The whole grade - 144 of them-- have to arrange themselves into 12 groups corresponding to their birthday month, and then within each group, they have to arrange themselves in chronological order. All without talking. This normally takes kids about 1/2 hour with frequent adult reminders to work in silence. They accomplished the first part of the task in less than 10 minutes, and the 2nd part in about 5. We had to scramble for another activity!
This year is also unusual, because for the first year ever, I have only 2 students who receive special ed services. I usually have 8-10 of the group who either get pulled out, or have extra support in the classroom. We do have a couple of kiddos who will be part of our tier 2/tier 3 program for behavior, but from what we've been told, they are in that program more because they need a super quiet place to work/go when they get overstimulated.
So, I'm expecting that it will be a good year. I'm hoping I will get a handle on this RA thing, and figure out how to pace myself. It seems clear that I will have watch the number of things that go on my plate!