Teaching, especially for the first time, can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful if you let it. There are so many preparations that must be done prior to school, during school, and on a daily basis. The following is a list of tips and ideas made by someone who truly had a bad case of anxiety as a first year teacher.
My story: I was so excited about becoming a new second-grade teacher. I had planned for this day for what seemed like years. I had so many teaching materials, student manipulatives, resources, ideas, and so on prepared and ready to go. Well, let me just say that NOTHING could have prepared me for the weight of responsibility that hit my shoulders when 22 seven year-olds were all sitting there staring at me with that “What now?” look on their faces. I smiled, introduced myself, then excused myself, and went and lost my breakfast in the restroom! This continued on for the rest of that day, the rest of that week, and for a couple more weeks! I had experienced an entirely new feeling- anxiety! I loved my job, but I was so sick for a while that it really took a lot out of me. Once I got the hang of it that year, I felt much better. Then the second year came and the anxiety again returned for a couple of days. From my third year on, it hasn’t been as hard but I still get those “First Day Jitters”!
1. You are not the only teacher with anxiety!
Take a walk around your school and talk with the other teachers. Most likely, every single teacher there will tell you that they still get anxious before the beginning of a new school year. Donâ’t feel like you are alone. The other teachers are there to help you and DO NOT be afraid to talk to them; they have been in your shoes and might actually still be there!
2. Don’t feel like you have to be “Super teacher”!
Don’t try to do it all at one time! Take one thing at a time and try to digest it and think it through. Again, ask other teachers for help! Ask parents for assistance with making, creating, and preparing teaching aids and activities. Realize that there will be so many lessons that you try that completely bomb out! That’s okay – learning what works and what doesn’t work is just a part of teaching and this process is difficult. In the long run, you will be a better teacher because of it.
3. Relate yourself with the students.
As you are going through those first day motions (rules, routines, expectations, schedule, etc.), let the children know that you are all in this together. You will teach them and they will teach you. It really gives them a sense of responsibility and you will most likely have a better-behaved class for it. Try reading the following book the first day of school -it’s actually about the teacher having jitters! It is highly recommended!
4. Pace yourself.
Try to keep yourself on a routine with grading, lesson planning, parent conferencing, etc. Remember, this is your job, but you need a little personal time too. If you don’t pace yourself, you will find that you spend just as much time at home doing school stuff as you do at school. Try to keep your lesson plans completed a week in advance. This way, you stay on top of things and you are well prepared for you lessons (and even if something arises and you have to miss school). Have your lesson plans completed by Wednesday afternoons. Have a parent volunteer come in on Thursdays and make copies or prepare lessons for you. Have another parent volunteer come in on another day and do “secretarial work” for you (filing, stapling, etc.). Try to grade as you go along so that you don’t end up with an overwhelming stack in front of you!
5. Stay organized
Anxiety for a first year teacher can really flare up if you don’t stay on top of all the paperwork and things that must be done. Back-to-school paperwork and supplies can really pile up if you don’t keep on top of things. Try to keep a checklist with your class-roll around at all times. You will need it for all that paperwork, for lunch counts, for attendance, and for so much more. Again, use those parent volunteers to help you with the “secretarial work”. Manage some sort of filing system in a box or folder that you can keep at a tangible location. Teach the children how to keep a neat and organized desk and you need to do the same! When there are 20+ children along with a teacher in the room (and everyone has so much STUFF), organization is critical.
6. Have fun!
Yes, itâ€™s overwhelming, yes it makes you anxious, yes it can be stressful, but at the end of the day, YOU have been important in the life of a child. That makes it all worth it. Those children will love you, no matter what. If you mess up, then do exactly what you teach them: “Good, better, best, never let it rest, til your good is your better, and your better is your best! You are awesome, you can and you will be successful-it just takes practice, and maybe a few trips to the ladies room!