teacher things

Back to School Thoughts

Monday marked the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, and I’m both excited and petrified. That’s normal, right?

I am by no means a first year teacher, but with four preps, two of which I’ve never taught before, I’m starting to feel the panic that every first year teacher inevitably feels. What if I don’t know the content well enough? What if my lessons aren’t engaging? What if I fail? Does that mean my students fail also? How will I get everything done?

The question deluge will continue viciously for as long as I let it, so in order to quell it, I need a game plan. I’ve turned to the blog that I have neglected all year to help me to solidify this game plan and keep me on track.

Step 1: Take time for myself.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am terrible at this one. I devote so much time and energy to my students, my colleagues, my family, and my friends that I forget to devote any time to myself. I’m working on changing that. My anxiety spikes when I allow myself to succumb to the constant stream of thoughts running through my brain rather than just taking a breath and handling things one at a time.

To tackle this problem, I’ve decided that my mornings are going to be for me and are going to consist of a 30-minute walk while listening to a podcast, yoga, and meditation. I tried this out before, and the routine made me feel balanced, positive, and ready for the day.

Step 2: Accept what I can’t control.

This is another hard one for me…mostly in life and not as much in the classroom. I’m notorious for needing to know exactly what’s happening with everyone and everything at any given moment in time so I can fix it.

But, here’s the thing: not everything can be fixed…and that’s okay.

And, even though I know this to be true, I still try to fix it because I’m a glutton for disappointment apparently.

Step 3: Accept progress over perfection

With four preps this year, perfection is not in the cards for me. There’s no way to devote 100% of time, effort, and myself to each of these four preps plus all of the other things going on in my life to the point of perfection. Good enough is going to have to be good enough.

It’s difficult for me to swallow that last line because “good enough” really isn’t in my vocabulary. But, if I want to make it through the year and if I want to keep my sanity throughout the year, “good enough” is going to have to be in the back of my mind when I’m spiraling into lesson-planning oblivion.

And, finally:

Step 4: Embrace the chaos and expel negativity.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but “embracing chaos” is pretty much my resting pulse at this point in my life. In every professional position I’ve been in, I have had to do some version of this. Chaos doesn’t freak me out, but the anticipation of chaos does. I have to be in it in order to thrive. I can’t think about it because with thinking comes doubt, and nobody has time for that this year.

Likewise, nobody has time for negativity this year either. As teachers, it can be easy for us to live in the land of the complaint because there are so many problems in education that we have to deal with daily. But, I think a lot of the stress and negativity come from constantly wading in complaints. It is my goal to create a classroom environment where my students and I can grow and learn together to become better humans.

It’s already been a week and let me tell you; these steps are exhausting, but totally worth it.

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