Three days in to this year and I’m completely exhausted. This doesn’t surprise me, not really anyway. And yet it does seem to be a bit surprising every year.
One of the reasons it’s exhausting (beyond the really obvious ones) is that everything I do right now, every word, every movement, every gesture, all the tones of my voice, everything, is telling my students who I am. They are, not consciously but still, taking it all in and synthesizing it into an impression of me that will impact the rest of our year together. They’re determining how I feel about them. They’re deciding what they expect for this year. The six hours I spend with them every day is heavy, weighted by this knowledge. I want to be sure that I’m sending them what I believe and want for them. I want my words, movements, tone, gestures, to tell them I care for them and believe in them. They’re going to be stuck with me for a huge amount of time and I want them to feel safe and secure with me.
At the same time, I’m trying not to allow myself to do exactly what I know my students are doing. I’m five times their age, I need to be more thoughtful about the impressions I make of them. I don’t want to assume I know them immediately. They are far more complicated than their words, gestures, movements, and tone will tell me. They may also have some anxiety about the new year which will impact the way they interact with me. I want to be sure I’m seeing the whole child and not leaping to conclusions. Their year shouldn’t be set in the first days.
First impressions are powerful. Life experience has definitely taught me this but my students don’t yet have that experience. This means I feel pressure to make a good first impression while not accepting the first impressions I have of them.