Dealing with “Back to School” Jitters
Are you getting ready to go back to school now? You’ve assembled curriculum… Your custodians are buffing school floors and getting classrooms sparkly… Teachers are busy making desk name tags and unpacking supplies. And you can’t go to any Wal-Mart without stumbling over “Back to School” displays in full regalia.
There is a lot of excitement during Back to School Season. The school supplies (ahhh… those school supplies…), new clothes, new teachers. But, for many of us, going back to school in the fall can also bring a serious case of nerves.
Maybe we don’t like the idea of swapping flip flops for dress shoes. Perhaps it’s the change in routine, from late morning starts to getting up with the birds. There are many reasons why the start of the school year creates mixed emotions in young and old, alike.
Tips for Easing Back to a School Routine
Wherever you teach, there are some things you can do to make the transition easier for everyone:
- First, honor those feelings.
Sarah Leitschuh, of Sarah Leitschuh Counseling, PLLC, suggests acknowledging a child’s misgivings about going back to school, even if you don’t share them. Parent’s can involve their children in back to school preparations, such as picking out a new lunchbox. Teachers can send “welcome” postcards late in the summer. In “Children and Stressors: Beginning of the School Year,” Leitschuh gives many tips for helping everyone get off to a good start on their new year.
My friends at Bright Ideas Press discuss emotions and schooling in “Emotional Homeschoolers: Learning to Handle Emotions.”
- Plan fun activities for the first days and weeks.
Even if you’re working with the adults in the building, remember that their heads might be elsewhere, too. The may still be thinking of the Cape, or that daycare drop-off. Can we bring a little play in to help us make the switch from vacation to profession?
Donna Morgan recently wrote of a great way to ease groups (both young and old) into working together, by focusing on the simple soap-bubble! In “Bubbles – They Are Not Just for Kids, You Know!“, Morgan shares how she uses soap-bubble blowing as a way to focus on breathing, being present and observing and visualizing ourselves in a positive place.
What a great idea for a first staff meeting!
- Prepare for rough spots.
Our best defense is a good offense. Instead of reacting to rough days during back to school week, let’s prepare in advance so we have a strategy.
When we are having a tough day, it’s easy for our kids’ tough days to get under our skin. In “How to Stay Calm in the Moment,” Jessica Cowling shares her insight as a mom on how to observe during times of conflict with a child.
As a classroom teacher, I have used this strategy time and time again. By being able to step out of my feelings and ask myself, “What are the kids trying to tell me? What do they need?” I am able to derail my own emotions and realize, “They’re telling me they need to get up,” or “They’re telling me it’s just too hot to think today.”
- Stay organized.
I once worked with a woman who never left work at the end of the day without her desk cleaned and organized. Her inbox was empty. Her pencils were sharpened. Her plants were watered and her goldfish fed. The trash can was emptied and her folder for the next day was placed neatly in the center of her blotter. When she walked out the door, she was peaceful and usually humming to herself.
Here’s a routine to start right on the first day you go back to work: spend the last half-hour of your day planning for tomorrow. Mike Gardner (“The Time Doctor”) discusses this tip that is sure to give anyone (homeschooler, classroom teacher or coach) a bit more peace at the start of each school day.
- Take your classroom outdoors.
There really isn’t anything that you have to teach that you can’t teach,
at least in part, out-of-doors. During Back to School month, planning outdoor breaks is great, but planning part of an real lesson outdoors makes that time do double duty, serving body, mind and spirit of the teacher, as well as the students.
In my post, “Welcome to “A Child’s Garden,” I share links to many ways you can use just 15 minutes of your day to refresh your teaching, through nature studies, experiments and guided expeditions.
Free Stuff to help you start the year!
Teachers love a little help, especially at the start of the school year. One thing I’ve found helpful in my classrooms is the use of notebooking pages to help jumpstart students’ writing. Why not try them, risk-free, with a free membership promotion? I’ve been a lifetime member of the Notebooking Treasury at NotebookingPages.com since 2010 – try the free membership and I guarantee you will become a member, too!
What do you do to ease students (and staff!) back to school in the fall?
Leave a comment below ~ we love to hear from you and share our ideas! If you found this article helpful, and would like to see more, subscribe to this website using the subscription gadget in the sidebar. Happy Back to School!