As teachers deal with mixed emotions during back-to-school time, it is a good idea to remember the reasons why you decided to become a teacher. Even though the profession can often be a great challenge, it also provides great rewards. The reward of experiencing success with a student and knowing you made a difference in his life, far outweighs the day to day challenges. Hopefully, you’ve taken some vacation time to regroup and refresh yourself to face that emotional roller coaster known as back-to-school time. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a first-year teacher or a seasoned veteran, those stage fright symptoms just don’t go away until after that all-important first day of school.
To reduce some apprehension during back-to-school time, reflect on some teacher advice. These tips should help you keep the beginning of the year in perspective.Take some time before school starts to reflect. Collecting your thoughts will help you recognize what you already know and what you need to find out.
Know your classroom goals and plan accordingly.
Know you have been trained for this profession; you are good at what you do.
Know your students by name and know their special circumstances as much as possible.
Know rules that may have changed in your building. Go over fire escape plans, handbook rules and other regulations.
Know your coworkers. Find peers who are eager to collaborate and avoid those who tend to be negative. Pay close attention to cliques, and any other details that might assist you in dealing effectively with peers.
Know about any physical changes since you were last at school. Was there a remodeling project during the summer?
Know the school district goals and how those goals directly or indirectly apply to you.
Know state standards and what that looks like at your school.
Know evaluation procedures. Find out when evaluations take place and be clear on district policy.
Know that it serves no purpose to react in a negative manner and/or take things too personally. You have a tough job, so you will have some tough days. Keep a sense of humor.
Know your own limits. You can only do so much. If you try to do more than is practical you might become ill, your personal life can suffer and you won’t be able to give your best effort.
Another important tip for dealing with mixed emotions at the beginning of the school year-and all year, is to maintain an even balance. Try to keep your job in perspective. As a teacher you might want to save the world. Then you look around at reality. However, you can save the world one child or two at a time. You make a difference for some children. Those students can make a difference for someone else. That process continues and, in many respects, you have made a big difference in the world.
In a humorous attempt not to take ourselves too seriously, the list of reminders is rewritten below. Follow these “loosely paraphrased” tips for dealing with mixed emotions at the beginning of the school year:
Be glad you have a job (have you read the unemployment news lately people?)
Be aware of your important role (you aren’t the queen, but close enough)
You go girl, you are sooo good at what you do (just because your paycheck doesn’t say so doesn’t mean it isn’t true)
Don’t try to save the world (leave that to professional singers)
Stay sane (after all, what can you accomplish in a straight jacket?)
Play nice with your peers (otherwise going to the principal’s office has a whole new meaning)
Don’t take yourself too seriously (if you obsess on tip # 2 refer to #6)
You are not Wonder Woman (another super hero has the rights to that costume)
Keep a sense of humor (laughing is usually a better choice than crying unless you laugh hysterically and it turns into sobs-then avoid at all costs)
If all else fails use the Saturday Night Live fictional character, Stuart Smalley’s technique. Look into the mirror and repeat to yourself, I am good enough; I am smart enough; and doggone it, people like me . . .
In all seriousness, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy any remaining summer time. Enter your class room refreshed with a new sense of confidence. Know that what you do is important. Know that you are good at what you do.