In 5 Ideas to Ease "Back to School Anxiety" from School Psychologist Blog Files by Erin N. King, there are some great suggestions for easing a child’s anxiety.
“1. Keep your own anxiety in check.
2. Get Familiar.
3. Have a trial run.
5. Get help if needed.”
These are great suggestions. But what can teachers do to ease their own anxiety in order to help their students? Here are my suggestions:
1. Call parents before school starts. Introduce yourself and give a little background. This will help you know the parent and the parent will have a great impression of you from the start.
2. Get organized. Plan your first week ahead of time. You may not know the kids yet but have a tentative plan of activities. Nothing is worse for you and the students if they get bored. You may have to adjust and modify but at least you won’t be starting from scratch.
3. Make a list and prioritize it. Sometimes I would be so overwhelmed by the beginning of school that I would have tons of things I needed and wanted to do. It helped me focus if I made a list and started doing the things that had to be done immediately. When I was able to cross them off the list when completed, it helped me feel like I accomplished something and kept me from feeling defeated.
4. Determine your rules and consequences before school starts. Find a way to post these in your classroom before the students show up.
5. If possible, set up your classroom before your first day of work. (My husband would kill me for saying this because he hates the thought of me working and not getting paid. I always felt like this extra effort helped me from going crazy so it was worth it!) The first week of work usually involved lots of meetings and paperwork. When I didn’t have to worry about setting up my classroom, it helped me focus on other things I needed to do.
6. Stop for lunch! This is a biggie in my book. I have seen too many teachers prepare for students and not stop for lunch. You need this down time in order to reenergize your body. This is a great time to network and bond with your coworkers. These are the people who will be in your support group when you need it. Don’t take it for granted that they will always be there for you just because you work together. You need to nurture this relationship. You also need to nurture your body. The first few weeks are exhausting and you do not need to get sick during this time. In fact, eating right will help you face these stressful times because stress wears down the immune system.
If you have any other suggestions to add, please let me know in the comments. I hope some of these will help teachers start off their year successfully. It really does help if you feel on top of the world rather than bulldozed by it.
Original image: 'happy birthday, baby mantis (hello, cruel world)' http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/2313927146 by: woodley wonderworks