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Back to school thoughts

Back to school thoughts

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For many of us, a new school year is about to begin. How you feel about this directly depends how well rested you were over the summer break, if you are a parent, a student or a teacher who feels as though she could have used another week. There is usually a level of excitement associated with the challenges associated with a new class, a new school, and new teachers. For parents, in my case first-time parent of a little one entering into “big” school, there are certain levels of anxiety that come with this new time of life. You wonder if your child would be okay. You wonder if she would progress, if she would make friends easily and get along with her teacher. You resign yourself to the fact that for the bulk of the day your child is going to be spending time with 25 or so complete strangers from different backgrounds and will be under the care of someone who is not your family. You resign yourself to this thought and still gently guide your daughter over to her new teacher(s), praying that all will be well, but being vigilant for her successes and her trials.

As a teacher, my main concerns relate to my own preparedness for the classroom, what types of interactions I will have with my students and how effective my teaching will be. I often bring a little bit of myself into my classroom in trying to reach folks where they are so that they are receptive to my lesson content.

The thing that leaps out to me the most whenever I think about the start of the new school is change. From the teacher’s perspective, no amount of lesson/term planning can truly prepare you for your new stock of students. They might have different strengths when compared to the previous group and your trajectory could be significantly altered because of this. You, as the teacher, must adjust because at the end of the day you must meet the needs of your students as much as you possibly can. Change is what the new school year brings, and this change can trigger both anticipation and anxiety.

Some strategies for coping, for both teachers and students, could include improving your time management skills and developing a level of discipline that would enable you to manage your tasks and reduce your anxiety. This is difficult but when implemented and practiced regularly yields a sense of control and fulfillment where completing tasks are concerned. Developing a schedule that prioritizes important or urgent tasks is a great way to focus and channel your energies productively.

For teachers, taking time for self-care is crucial. The adage goes that you cannot pour from an empty cup and it makes sense to shore up your own strength — physical, mental and emotional before you venture into the class to take care of other souls.

All of these suggestions are easier said than done, of course, but they might help to buffer the amount of anxiety and worry that come with the new school year.

In the meantime, my wishes for all (parent, guardians, teachers and students) are that the chalk be less dusty, that the pencil points be firm, that the pens never run dry and the backpacks do not break our little ones’ backs, and that new school year be fulfilling and productive for all involved.

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