Part of my back to school blues every year is knowing that I will not be able to nap, except for on weekends. Some time around mid-August I lose my ability to shut everything out and fall asleep. I get comfortable, ambient music in my ears and eye mask blocking out the light. But it seems I soon as I start to relax and fade into siesta-land, I am startled awake. My brain refuses to shut off. Ideas pop into my head, like a Facebook feed that is constantly on scroll mode.
I've noticed more and more Facebook posts from teacher friends and teacher websites lamenting the end of summer and sharing anxiety about the first day of school. As I go into my 23rd year of teaching this week, I can tell you I still have very vivid anxiety dreams about the start of school. They usually start in late July/early August and are a definite sign that summer is on its way out soon.
In my administrative role, I have been back at school for a while now - in a way I got the anxiety out of my system as I was swept up in the million and one details to help get the school ready for Day 1. But, other things help me get over my anxiety. Here are a few you might try too.
- Plan a last outing for yourself, whether it be a day trip to the beach or a camping weekend. We have a long weekend coming up; for my school we will have already started classes, but your school might be starting afterwards. Either way, it can be something to look forward to! I had my last beach outing yesterday as a friend and I took 9 girls to the beach to celebrate my daughter's birthday.
- Plan your first week as well as you can. On the first few days back, you already know your time will be taken up with district PD and school meetings. You will have little time to plan. Many teachers have already set up their classrooms. For me, it also helps if I have a good, solid plan for the first week: class expectations, some getting to know each other activities, and some content.
- Think about the year in chunks instead of one whole year. This helps me a great deal. This is basically how I see it in my head: beginning of the year until Thanksgiving; Thanksgiving to Winter Break; January until February break; February until April break: and after April, it all becomes a fast blur of activity. Divide the year up however it works for you and it will seem more manageable.
- Accentuate the positive. I know this is so hard - I myself keep thinking of how I am going to reach a few of my students; I'm already worried about some of the challenging behaviors; I wonder if I will be able to do my 2 jobs well and keep my sanity and be a good mother/partner/daughter, etc. This year, I am forcing myself to think of the really wonderful things about the upcoming year. I have a job I love. I am in my second year of being an administrator, which is better than the first. I am teaching a new class and am excited about it. My school is in the second year of strong, creative, passionate, and steady leadership. All good things.
- Think about how you will promote peace and understanding and combat hate in your classroom and school. This year, I will be starting off with one of the many resources my superintendent, other teachers, and some great websites have offered to teach against hate and prejudice. If you don't know where to begin, here are a few links to help you.
Wishing all the teachers out there an excellent start to their year, whether you are a first year teacher or a veteran teacher!
Buena suerte! Bon courage! Good luck! May peace and love always win.