Staring at the fifteen five-year-olds in my kindergarten class, I stood in front of them. They gazed right back at me with their wide-eyed expressions. My mouth went dry, but my palms grew sweaty. Fear pulsed through my veins. This was my first teaching class ever. My first kindergarten. What I did could dictate these children's lives forever. What if I failed them? I gulped, wishing to run away.
Instead, I smiled and spoke, "Good morning, class. I'm Miss Lockhart. Let's go around the room and introduce ourselves."
The children said their names, and we continued the morning routine with music class, library time, and gym.
So far, so good, but I really hadn't had a chance to teach them anything.
After lunch, they sat at their desks. I passed out the big lined paper. "Today we're going to go over the alphabet and write your names. How many of you know how to do this?" Over half the hands went up in the air. I remembered when I was little we learned how to write our name in kindergarten. Now, it was nearly expected of them to know it beforehand.
We went over the alphabet, and all of them knew the letters by sight, but writing them was a bit more difficult. I went around and helped each one individually fix their letters first and then write their name.
When I came to Fred Bishop, I frowned. His head was bowed, and the pencil quivered in his small hand. Damp blotches spotted his paper. I knelt down beside his desk and whispered, "Fred, what's wrong?"
He didn't look up at me but stared at his paper. Another tear trickled down his cheek, and he wiped it away. "I want my mommy."
It broke my heart. "First days can be hard."
"Did you know it is my first day too?"
"No." He shook his head.
"It's my first day teaching, and I was so nervous…even scared. I wanted to do a good job, but I was afraid I would fail," I said in the same quiet whisper. All the other students continued to work on their writing skills.
Setting the pencil down, he wiped his face with his shirt. "I want to do good too."
I smiled as he peered up at me. "Can I see your work?"
He nodded and held it out. His name was perfectly written on his paper.
"This is wonderful, Fred." I reached into my pocket and pulled out a pack of stars. "Would you like a star on your paper?"
His face lit up. "Yes, Miss Lockhart."
I put the star on the paper. "Think we can tough out the rest of the day."
He nodded and went back to work.
I helped the other students, and the bell rang before I knew it.
Before Fred left for the bus, he paused and gave me thumbs up.
I returned the gesture. First days were hard, but second days were better.