I'll never forget my niece’s wedding, and not for the reasons you may think. From the moment she announced her engagement, we all set out to make her dream wedding a reality. She, like most girls had been planning this day since she was a little girl and she was marrying the boy she had been dating since high school. This wedding was by all means a long-awaited event. Unfortunately, this dream wedding turned into a disastrous one.
If it could go wrong, it went wrong. Really wrong. Such as, having the printed invitations ready to be mailed and getting a call that the venue had double booked, and my niece was getting the boot. New venue. New invitations. And 6 weeks to go. An open park was all that was available. This, with all the other things that were going wrong, put a huge strain on all of us. The day of the wedding only proved that things could indeed get worse. The number of errors that occurred that day almost became comical. We were running around putting out fires left and right and making sure the bride and groom knew nothing of it. At one point, we were trying to figure out how to feed 20 people that we miscounted. To this day, I’m still convinced they were wedding crashers!
I giggle now, but that day was a hot mess. And here’s the thing, this is not the reason I remember my niece’s wedding. Her wedding will stick with me forever because of what the guests said when they were leaving. I quote, “This was the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to,” “We haven’t had this much fun in a very long time,” “What a magical wedding.” WHAT??? I stood there with my mouth hanging open. Were they just being kind? After hearing comments like this from almost everyone, I had to stop and ask, why?
It hit me that the guests knew nothing of the many errors that took place. They didn’t have privy to the behind the scene disasters that occurred. They didn’t know that the band was an hour late, or that we were begging the chef to make more entrees. They only saw what was in front of them. They danced, laughed, and enjoyed the night under the twinkling lights. What struck me hardest was when I realized I hadn’t enjoyed the wedding. I missed my niece’s wedding in the hopes of making it the best wedding. I was too worried about executing all our hard work and plans. And looking back, not one thing I focused on that day made the difference in how beautiful her wedding had turned out.
The first day of school is very much like a wedding. We plan and plan to make it the best day ever. We want our students to love the classroom we spent weeks putting together. We want them to be fully engaged in our well planned out activities. We want them to have a magical experience and leave that first day excited to come back the next. Just like my niece’s wedding, we can sometimes become more focused on executing our plans than enjoying the first day with our students. The first day will not be successful because of our plans, but it will be because of how you make them feel.
Like the wedding guests, they won’t know you’re behind the scenes plans. They won’t know if the day is going as planned or not. Your students will love the first day because of YOU. Your presence, your smile, your happiness for the day. They will know that they are welcomed and loved. They will feel at home not by the things you do, but by the way you make them feel.
So, I encourage you to plan, but don't let your plans dictate the day. Take time to relax and enjoy the first day with your students. Be present, laugh, and let go of it having to be perfect. And when each student leaves on the first day, be assured they will anxiously wait for day two.