back to school as a teacher

Teachers… this one is for you!

Now I am not a teacher. I give all of you credit for doing what you are doing. But I have several friends who are teachers and I have seen them in the back to school craze.

Everyone always talks about what back to school is like when you are student. But what about when you are a teacher? How do you properly prepare for getting into the swing of things after a summer “off”? How do you prep for a new body of students, a new year, and maybe even a new grade?

Here are some great tips and tricks to help you from the teachers in my life. 

“If you make time for the things that help you de-stress and prioritize your own mental health you’ll be able to have a strong start and a great year.”

“Before the school year begins I buy a fun/cute planner that will be perfect for to do lists and notes of any kind (Etsy or May Designs are my go to). I also buy new teacher pens and I get my classroom cleaned and ready on my own time. I usually bump some music, close the door, and get to work. And I commit to staying a little bit later only for one night. The day before the first day of classes I choose my outfit and get my lunch and coffee ready. And by the end of the first week of school I plan to go out with some teacher friends after work and treat myself to a mani pedi too. If you make time for the things that help you de-stress and prioritize your own mental health you’ll be able to have a strong start and a great year.” – Cali, 10th and 12th grade teacher in Boston, MA 

“Never be afraid to ask for help.”

“Coming off of my first year of teaching, and my first time teaching summer school for that matter, I have come to terms with a very common misconception. While teachers may have quite a bit of vacation and holiday time off, and are given the glorified ‘summer vacation,’ make no doubt, teachers work their tails off. I recently stumbled upon a meme that said teachers voluntarily put more hours into their work than any other profession. Whether or not that is factually true, when you’re a teacher, you’re never really ‘off.’ I went to Greece for an extended two-week vacation, and even while I was there, I found myself contemplating over how I could better differentiate Literacy stations for my students who speak English as a second language. And how I could rearrange flexible seating in my classroom for students who have hyperactive tendencies. The point is… take the time you need for yourself, because as a teacher, you’ll be dealing with all kinds of diverse needs of 20 students on a daily basis, and in order to best meet those needs, you have to start with yourself.

One more thing: Never be afraid to ask for help. Teachers who are 30 years into teaching are still given the same professional development opportunities as many first year teachers, and are then asked to go back and tweak their instruction according to new programs and curriculums. We are in a field of constant learning, both professionally and personally. Picking the brains of veteran teachers was one of the best forms of professional development I got in my first year, and I wouldn’t have been able to get through it had it not been for them!” – Hannah, 5th grade teacher in Stamford, CT

“Don’t take your students’ attitudes personally.”

“Back to School for me has always been about the mindset! If I feel good about myself or the space around me, going back to school is a very easy transition. I always decorate my front table at home with a few fall-themed and back-to-School decorations; this way, I don’t dread the earlier wake ups in the week before back to school. I also always buy a new binder and set of folders every day to have something new and colorful every day during the year (these are my daily supplies, so new equals a fresh start). Finally, I purge my living space and anything I want to give away, I upcycle for classroom use; last year, I tied twine through my old extra floppy discs and made them into bathroom passes – it was an example of a technological relic for my 21st century students!

Advice for new teachers – don’t take your students’ attitudes personally! Children will express themselves in a variety of ways, but it is rarely your fault , even if their tantrum or attitude suggests otherwise. Let it go. For every difficult moment or student, there are at least ten other good ones to make up for it! Also – pay close attention to the kids who fall in the middle of the pack, because they rarely get the attention they deserve; any attention or praise you give them will go a long way. Finally, the first year can be truly overwhelming – set aside one night a week and one weekend day where you don’t touch ANY school work. Remember to take care of yourself, because a burnt out teacher can never truly serve his or her students. Enjoy!!” – Maria, middle school teacher on Long Island, New York 
Are you a teacher? What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for back to school? Share with us in the comments below or tweet them at us!