What they don’t tell you about your first day of teaching

Keys with neck chain (FTW!)

I consider it a glaring omission of my Teacher Education that nobody mentioned the importance of a neck chain for your classroom keys.

Having never been the guardian of a classroom of learners has also meant that I have never been in the possession of a set of classroom keys. In the absence of any students at school my personal style had been sloppy student meets budget backpacker; t-shirts, cargo pants and jeans which have pockets.

Lots of pockets.

This being Day 1 with lots of parents in the school I fished some clothing from days as an office flunky out of retirement and discovered a problem nobody told me about: women’s clothing  is bereft of pockets.

Who decided women have no use of pockets?

Or maybe it was wardrobe malfunction not quite on the level of Janet Jackson’s performance at THAT superbowl in which I decided that wearing a skirt sans pockets would be a good idea on my first day of teaching. Because I spent far too much of my first session at school wondering where I had put my keys: they were on the table, then on the bench and then in the cupboard but never where I needed them when I needed them.

And then as I walked the kids over to the school’s Pōwhiri, I spotted all the other female teachers in the school were in possession of the one must-have  teacher’s fashion item that I had yet to purchase. A  neck chain to hold my classroom keys.

How could I spend 12 months in teacher education and not learn the importance of this teacher’s accessory. Is that why I only got a B+ in my Teacher in Context paper?

Fortunately the last teacher had left a spare key neck chain in my drawer and once I located it I could start my day in earnest, remembering names doing some warm up activities and helping the kids decide on some classroom roles:

  • ICT Whizz (computer monitors)
  • An accountant (a child who counts up borrowed equipment to make sure we have returned all the sporting equipment/camera etc. to avoid equipment getting lost)
  • Bloginators (self-explanatory)
  • Window watchers (kids to close windows)
  • Snapper (photo journalist)

One of the others things they won’t tell you at teacher’s education is that first hour of teaching a class for real WILL BE THE LONGEST HOUR OF YOUR LIFE EVER. For some reason the kids were whipping through my ‘get to know your classmates’ activities so quickly that I secretly wondered if I was going to be out of effective classroom material by the time we hit interval. But here’s another crazy thing about your first day of teaching, at some point those minutes which went by so slowly will suddenly speed up and you’ll be dismissing the kids wondering where your first day went.

Other lessons learned.

  • You’ll do a lot of walking, especially to and from the printer and office.
  • Flat shoes are no guarantee that your shins won’t be be screaming come 3 o’clock.
  • Bringing home-baked cookies is good way to start your syndicate meeting.

Sorry for the lack of any substance in this reflection but I’m afraid my brain stopped functioning effectively sometime around 4pm.

Right time to read over some student writing samples before I get some much-deserved sleep in preparation for day two of teaching.

26 thoughts on “What they don’t tell you about your first day of teaching

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  1. Other things that you will need
    – whiteboard markers
    – a good disinfectant and cloth – someone is going to throw up/cut themselves in your classroom
    -graffiti remover


  2. congrats on your first day- I hope it was everything you expected and more and that you have found your calling in life as anticipated. R=This e neck chains are fab but i’ve been told always have an identical spare set as we are guaranteed to misplace the the first, just like chargers for the computer, either leaving one at home or one at school so have one in both places.


  3. Fab post – I laughed and laughed! You know that you will end up doing the ‘first week’ version of this post, don’t you??? And then ‘the first year’…
    As for the keys, prepare to lose them a lot. They know their way back to you quite well usually. Perhaps you need a Key Monitor (locksmith? key kid? Hmmm, needs a catchy name…)
    Nobody tells you these things because nobody remembers them until a first year teacher tells you about it again. Somehow, like the birth of a child, the mind has blocked it all out…protective mechanism and all that!
    Enjoy the week, safe in the knowledge that you will never have this day again. May you always smile when you recall that the key to being a great BT is in having the KEY when you need it!!!!


    1. Hi Kimberley
      I do indeed have a security expert and teacher’s PA as part of my classroom detail. Also note my key ring which has my name on it. A lovely gift from my (ex) step daughter!



  4. Great blog post, Stephanie. I too find the lack of pockets in women’s clothing taxing. Mind you sewing clothes and avoiding pockets is something I have done in the past.

    Congratulations on your first day. Sounds like you are off to a great start. Murphy’s Law always kicks in with the distance you are from the photocopier when what you need is more urgent being all the greater!

    Hope that day two flies as well.


    Mrs S


  5. Oh my. You are a gem.
    ‘Lanyard’ is now added to my ever-growing list of teacher must-haves. I see you have the type with the quick-release clip – very savvy 😉


  6. you also need a sense of humor, unlimited energy and the ability to undertake triage… in the real world of school there is no time only priorities

    men of course use key chains attached to a belt

    my wife says ALWAYS keep your car/home keys separate from your school keys… for the time you lend/lose them

    good luck


  7. Stephanie
    This so makes me happy! You see I thought misplacing and losing classroom keys were an issue because I’m sort of aging!!

    Yes the no pockets in our clothing is a nuisance. I have to say I would HATE to have a key neck chain though. Rather lose my keys. Most keys in the school are the same so its a matter of borrowing for me if the dreaded ‘lost my keys’ attacks.

    Laughing at the first hour being the longest and then speeding up. You are in to it!

    I am a longer distance this year from the photo copier, so I have to make sure what I have sent to the photocopier has actually been sent from my computer before I go fetch. Otherwise it could be a double walk.

    Looking forward to all your this year posts. I know I have said this before but …. you write so well.



    1. Hi Kathryn
      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I think losing keys might be an occupational hazard of teaching!

      I am some distance from the photocopier which involves walking across one uncovered netball court which I’m not looking forward to in the Wellington wind and rain.

      I hope your day back at school was great.



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