Students have yet to file into school to begin the 2009-10 term, but their teachers have been hard at work.
Physical work needs done, preparing classrooms for students. More important are lesson plans, setting the direction and pace of the school year.
Fifth grade teacher Rod Just checked his classroom technology Monday. Beyond being a home-room teacher, he teaches fourth and fifth grade science and social studies at Hillsboro Elementary School.
He brought in animals for science, including fish, gerbils, and an anthill.
“I’ve got a little bit of wildlife in the classroom besides the students,” he said.
He starts his fifth graders on material for the sixth grade social studies test administered by the state. He considers classes’ previous test scores and tries to tailor his lessons accordingly.
“There is more to planning than opening up a textbook,” Just said.
On the first day of class, he will continue one of his personal traditions.
“I always shake hands with kids when they come in,” he said.
For kindergarten teacher Michele Berens, much of the first day is about reducing students’ anxiety about school.
Many kindergartners have first-day jitters, she said. Students with older siblings and preschool experience seem to have less apprehension, but children don’t always have the worst anxiety.
“Sometimes it’s the moms that have a harder time than the kids,” Berens said.