I don't think it matters if it is your first year or your twentieth - curriculum night is a stressful time in a teachers' school week. You have to make sure to inform the parents about what you'll be teaching during the year...even if you have no idea what order you will be teaching the information, how long each unit or chapter will take and worst of all, what the heck you're teaching the rest of the week!
Thankfully I have my lesson plans this week pretty much figured out. We're working on place value in math (still); we've gotten off to a good start in our reading book; a spelling test is in the future; we started the social studies project; and, oh yes, just as many of my kids predicted the celery stalk we put in a mason jar wilted like crazy!
So I wake up at 3:15AM (having slept at 8:45PM the night before) and finish putting together my slides for my powerpoint presentation I won't actually be showing using powerpoint (I don't have a projector) and I realize, man I have a lot of information to talk about...and I only have 15 minutes in which to talk about everything AND field questions!!! No biggie, I'll paraphrase. Besides, there are notes written for the parents to read and all of them have my e-mail address in case everything is unclear. We leave the house at 6:35AM and I am confident that I can get to school early enough to make 14 copies for my second grade parents (plus a few more just in case) and 8 copies for my four third graders (you know, in case Mom and Dad each want a copy).
At only 8:30AM - the official start of the school day - the kids are going CRAZY! They know that after lunch they will be heading to the cafeteria while their parents show up to meet with their teacher. In addition to curriculum day there is a special prayer service that lasted just over an hour and required the kids to be quiet (hey, we were in church after all!). I realized that a lot of my kids were clutching their stomachs. Knowing they all didn't eat at the same place for breakfast I sat wondering what was up only to learn that each of the kids ate a fragment of what they normally would because they wanted to take communion...except they really couldn't because they were supposed to fast for the last three days (really? at 7?) and eating even a crumb ruined the fast! My kids were, surprisingly, good during service. It was a struggle at some points but I could hardly blame them. I couldn't understand over half of what was being said! The whole time the kids were praying about whatever kids pray about these days I was praying that they would behave since the principal and the former principal were both in attendance!
We got back to the classroom and I had my mini-group - my 4 third grade students. We worked on writing, some reading and glyphs to hang on my ceiling. They went to lunch and that was my day with the kids...except it was raining outside so there was no outdoor recess. I did what any teacher would do, I took my kids into my classroom and had them play Jenga and Twister or, as some opted to do, they worked on decorating their book bins. I got a knock at the door saying to take my kids to the "cafeternasium" at 12:25 with work in hand and so I challenged my kids to be good and show me that all the lessons we have been working on to be good citizens have been paying off. I walked my kids to their next activity and found myself with some time...the time I was anxious about since the day I found out I had my own classroom. Don't get me wrong, I've met these parents before, they're all actually very nice and caring...but it's my FIRST year! Will I be saying the right things? Will they think I'm making the kids work too hard? Not hard enough? I felt like screaming!
The clock starts ticking closer to my "on-stage" time of 2:30. I have the handouts ready and waiting on each student's desk. I have a pile of materials ready to show the parents so they can see what I've been writing about in e-mails and newsletters. At 2:31 I still have no parents. I can't be talking to NOBODY! I see two parents sitting outside my classroom and wave them over as the school secretary, bless her, asks if there are any parents that need to meet with the second grade teacher.
Now I have two parents...and halfway through my schpeel my colleagues who teach the third graders science, social studies and math apologetically walk in and hear my presentation. They too watch as the clock ticks closer to our combined meeting time of 2:45 when the second grade parents are supposed to leave and the third grade parents are to walk in...it comes and goes and nobody walks in. I continue talking for a few more minutes as two more second grade parents walk in - one of whom is a parent of a third grader - and I have to cut my speech short because my colleagues have to go and present to the 4th through 8th grade parents at 3PM sharp. And, oh yes, did I tell you that a petite woman knocked on my classroom door speaking perfectly fluent Spanish inquiring whether or not I'm the Senora Bell who will be teaching Spanish enrichment and would I have a minute to speak with her? I usher my second grade parents out, telling the super late comers I will speak with them after I speak with the third grade parents, if at all possible, I let my co-teachers speak first because, let's face it, aside from the killer writing third grade gets to do, it's pretty much an upgrade of second grade in the language arts department.
6 parents total...out of 18. I should consider myself lucky. I managed to catch five parents via e-mail or in passing as they picked their kids up - making it 11 out of 18.
Tomorrow is another day...and I didn't even talk about how I had to run to IKEA to buy more book bins because several of mine were accidentally damaged and, oh yeah, I have 21 students whom I teach language arts to now, NOT 18!
Take a bow. Stage lights off. Curtain closed. I'm exhausted!