Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's School Again! Huzzah! (Part 1 of 2)

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

First, a big thank-you to everyone who has checked out this blog over the past couple of days! Please feel free to stick around just in case I write something worth reading someday!

So, my wife and I spent most of yesterday driving from Chicago to her grandparents' condo in Ohio, where the rest of her family has gathered for the long weekend. On the way, we dropped off our dog, Jake, at a fancy-schmancy doggy bed & breakfast for his first-ever weekend without Mommy and Daddy.

It was a bit hard for us. I mean, LOOK AT HIM.

Anyway, canine parental guilt aside: After driving several hours, heading out for an awesome dinner with the family, playing some games, etc., I found some time to sit down and reflect on the first week of the school year.

SPOILER ALERT: It was awesome.

Tuesday was a freshmen-only half day, designed to get our new students acquainted with our school. The teachers lined up outside the building to welcome each and every freshman as they walked into the building.

It was a total blast to stand outside, welcoming our new students as they trudged past us, one by one, with the sleep not yet completely rubbed out of their eyes. We greeted them with enthusiasm, high fives, and fist bumps. A few responded with the same energy. Many more obliged us begrudgingly. Some looked at us as if we had just picked our noses with an acetylene torch. One or two "anti-establishment" types elected not to partake in such frivolity, to which I replied, "I respect your non-conformity, don't ever lose that." They looked confused.

By 7:30, the freshmen had found their way into our cafeteria for welcomes and introductions. They were seated by their Advisory groups and assigned a senior leader, who would be showing them around the school, helping them find their lockers, etc. Our school's director (which is New Tech lingo for the role of "principal") greeted the students warmly, then had each teacher introduce himself or herself.

As I stood in line waiting for my turn, I whipped out my iPad and loaded the Notability app, quickly scribbling something with my finger. When the time came to introduce myself, I took a few steps out and, silent, stone-faced, held up my iPad for the freshmen to see:


After a few long moments (I was purposefully aiming for John Cage-like silence), I spun around and went back into the line without saying a word.

This prompted laughter from most of the freshmen, confused looks from the rest.

(Then I actually introduced myself "normally," discussing who I am, what subject and grade I teach, and that I also run Anime Club during lunch three days a week.)

Throughout the morning, I had the opportunity to meet each freshman group in my classroom. While I'm sure that most of them were already convinced that I was a total weirdo, I threw up a Keynote slide I had whipped together to remove any lingering doubts:

I later tweeted a reaction I got when expounding upon my favorite video games to play:

Only an hour or two into the school year, I had most of the freshmen scratching their heads and wondering what was up with this strange man who was going to be teaching them math in their senior year.

Probably the coolest thing about the interactions I had with the freshmen on day one was that many of them seemed to relax ever-so-slightly from the typical first-day jitters and culture shock.

Several freshmen approached me that morning about joining Anime Club. On the very first day. I'd never had that happen before. A few other freshmen came up to me to declare that I was already their favorite teacher, even though they wouldn't be having me until senior year.

It was a cool feeling to hear them say that, but it was not really the point. The point was to make them feel welcome, and to let them know that I was totally willing to be just as goofy with them as I am with the seniors who are actually taking my math class. The point was to make the feel like they were already part of the family.

Because they are. They are every bit as much a part of our school's family as our first graduating class that started college this fall. They are every bit as much a part of our school's family as our current group of seniors, who I got to see the next day for the start of their school year...


  1. How large is your school? I love the idea of welcoming students into the building!

    1. It's a small school; we have roughly 100 new freshmen this year. But they do the same thing at the other HS in our district which has a student enrollment of about 2,800.