Love Teaching But Dread Going Back? A Few Ideas
by Otis Kriegel
Summer vacation is about to screech to a sudden halt. You’re on the beach Tuesday and Wednesday you’re back to Staff Preparation Days.
Did it go by too fast? Did you forget to read that book or clean out the storage bin? Don’t worry. You’re life isn’t over because you’re heading back to work. I completely understand the complicated feelings that go with heading back to school. But that dread is easy to shirk off with a change of attitude. Nothing will bring back those beach days, but there are a few ways to maintain a sunny disposition.
And they are in order so you can do them one at a time as you get ready to enter back into your “school life.”
8 Ideas To Smooth A Teacher’s Transition Back To School
Reach out to a colleague to connect, not complain
A few days before you return, give a colleague you like a call or shoot them an email, just to say hi. Share some stories about your summer and avoid too much talk about school life. Begin to renew that camaraderie that many of us truly enjoy. As a teacher, the majority of your work is in the classroom, but we are all small pieces of a greater whole, trying to help educate children and make communities better. This work takes a team and it is fun and rewarding. Remind yourself of that by reaching out to rekindle your collegial friendships.
Change your routine
For the past five years have you gotten up at the same time? Did you eat the same thing for breakfast, or worse, skip it? Did you wear the same shoes every day? Look, I have my routines that I love and trust me, I am not changing all of them. Yet sometimes, if you are feeling the dread of returning to school, a little switch in an everyday ritual might make the day more interesting. Eat something new for breakfast. Get to school earlier and leave earlier. Take a different route to work. Change the music you listen to, or check the weather on a different website.
Do something unusual, not to exhaust your mind but to break that potential rut of feeling like you have been doing the same thing, over and over again, for years. Change it up. Keep it different. It doesn’t have to be life shattering but enough of am adjustment to make your life feel a little different.
Learn something new
Even if you only have a couple of weeks left until the first bell rings, learn something new. Read a book that interests you. See a museum exhibition. Try a new type of food or enroll in a one-night class. Remember what it’s like to learn and to be exposed to something fresh and captivating. This is what your students feel like when you inspire them. It’s a very powerful feeling. And the best way to remember that is to find it in yourself.
No one likes to end summer vacation. (Trust me, I would love another few weeks.) But try a few of these routine changers. They might help you to shed the dread and get more excited about returning to school. After all, isn’t that how you want to feel?
Change work outfit
Make it more than just your shoes. Add something to what you wear, whether it be a watch, a necklace, different earrings, or a bracelet, something that you put on or keep in your desk that makes you feel different. How about a new haircut? Maybe you use a new belt, or rotate wearing a few items?
Whatever it is it should make you feel slightly different, not the same old self that has been dragging themselves to work wearing the same old thing. Your colleagues might notice, too. Maybe it will inspire them to mix things up.
Make a new friend
Reconnecting with a colleague before you return is always a good plan but reaching out to someone new at school can be really refreshing. I enjoy a quality conversation or even a passing quick chat with some of my fellow teachers during the work day, which usually has nothing to do with work. It’s a great break from the teaching day, even if only for 5 minutes.
Teaching can be very isolating, spending hours without adult contact. Find someone new at the school with whom you can casually socialize. It has been great over the years to have lunch with the same people everyday or to eat and work in your classroom alone, but mixing up your social life at school will act as another tool to shed the dread of returning back to the classroom.
I completely understand the sadness of ending summer break. No one likes to leave the beach! But don’t think about your curriculum just yet. Put a little energy into yourself and you’ll feel better about getting back to your classroom!
See you at school!
Otis Kriegel is the author of Starting School Right: How do I plan for a successful first week in my classroom? (ASCD). Kriegel has taught elementary and middle school students for 15 years. He has taught in dual language (Spanish/English and German/English), monolingual, and integrated coteaching classrooms. To support your back to school efforts, ASCD is offering a free e-book download of Otis Kriegel’s Starting School Right. Download it here.”