20 Aug

The Beginning of the End

It starts with the ridiculously early back-to-school sales. I heard reports of some at the beginning of July this year. Three weeks into summer, for God’s sake! Must have been because of the recession. Retail is freaking out, creating sales/hype for whatever reason they can think of. Halloween sales start on Labor Day. Scary ha ha*.

The next phase is the mailing you get from the district. There’s something in there from everyone — the superintendent, the assistant to the superintendent, the principal, the assistant principals, the regional manager, his assistant, and then various committees, like the social committee, who wants you to bring something for the potluck lunch on that first staff-only day.

From there, it’s all downhill. You get more and more emails from staff full of claims that they’re excited about the upcoming year. You run into colleagues at the grocery store, who say, “See you in a couple weeks!” And all the fake cheeriness makes you so self-loathing that you just go ahead and check your class lists online.

And then the dreams come. Oh, the dreams. Your class is huge, completely unmanageable. The room is one you’ve never been in before. You’ve forgotten to bring textbooks or handouts or anything else you should pass out to the students. You’re teaching a subject you haven’t prepped for. You’re late to every class period. You’re not wearing pants. Scary strange*.

*(I’m coining two new phrases. You know how the word funny needs clarification? Funny ha ha or funny strange. Well, I think scary needs a similar distinction. Scary ha ha is the type of scary that deserves derision; scary strange is the kind that sends a chill down your spine.)