I got to school early enough to print and photocopy a few documents before heading down to the classroom. There, I rearranged the desks while I cleaned abandoned paper and almost-lost books out of the shallow spaces under the table tops. I erased the bits of colour that lingered at the edges of the chalkboard, marks I had missed as we left a week ago, then replaced them with today’s date and quote, carefully leaving out the punctuation so that the students would have a puzzle waiting when they arrived.
T was first. He often is. Then E, who came in then left then came back again. Then N, who sat, self-composed, and waited for class to start. And S slid into place next to T. As I asked them about their March Break, I moved around the room, gathering up the books leaning on the ledge of the front chalkboard – casually labelled “New Books”- and taking them back to the bookshelves to settle into their long-term home. I replaced them with books I had scavenged during March Break and rewrote “New Books” above them, in a different colour of chalk, hoping that someone might be intrigued.
By now, the classroom was about half full. Sunlight filtered in through the half-pulled shades; the lights were still off. Some students were already reading; others had their heads down; still others chatted softly. A few more students arrived. The classroom breathed quiet anticipation. Then the hands of the clock moved, and Break was over. We were ready to start again.