It's back to school and everyone is stressed. If you're like me you have a whole new schedule with lots of new faces and new expectations. If there is one thing that can cause anxiety in most people, it’s change. Here are some tips to navigate this first week.
1. Set your routine
Get into the habit now of going to bed early and rising early. Start making your lunches for the week in advance and set your favorite route to work. The more that you take care of beforehand, the less last-minute panic you will have to add to this week.
2. Realize that this is temporary
It won't be like this for the rest of the year. Schedules will settle, people will settle, and most importantly the kids will settle. You will also get used to your new environment little by little.
3. Look at the big picture
There are a lot of benefits to being a teacher. Most of us just returned from a two month vacation and there will be many more vacation days coming up soon. In education we deal with short bursts of intense work but it is followed by days off which is unlike almost any other career. Not to mention the health and retirement benefits. Keep your long-term goals in mind to help weather the storm.
4. Remember why you do this
We chose this profession because we enjoy working with children and helping them succeed. I know this can get lost in times when we're running around feeling lost. Remember your students are feeling much more lost than you. Take a minute to guide a student to class, explain their schedule, or just welcome them to school. It will make you feel better.
5. Don't take it personally
Realize that everyone else around you is also stressed. Colleagues, administrators, and students. They are probably not going to be their friendliest this week but that doesn't mean it’s because of you or that this will be their personality moving forward. Take your interactions this week with a grain of salt and be understanding that we're all feeling the pressures of a new year.
6. Take care of yourself
Keep those good habits that you cultured over the summer. Eat healthy, exercise, and keep in touch with friends and family. Stress management techniques are extra important this week, such as yoga and meditation. When time is short we tend to skip the things that help us feel our best, but right now it's most important to do these things. Choose to eat a piece of fruit instead of that donut. The fruit will be helpful for you to fight stress, the donut will just make things worse. Schedule a massage or an acupuncture session. I know I am!
I hope these tips help you get through week one unscathed. Let's have a great year!
Scott Bitterman - Physical Education Teacher. Bronx, NYC
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