Sunday, September 20, 2015

Flashback to One Year Ago: 5 Truths about Back to School Survival

I started writing this post after the first month of school last year, and never published it.  Last year was...well.....tough.  I learned and grew a lot as a teacher, as we often do when stretched to what we think is our perceived breaking point.  When I reread it, I thought it had some good "notes to self"- as we all go back to work.  I hope some of you can relate, or take inspiration from what I have suffered learned.

August 2014:

I started my 19th BTS season 3 weeks ago, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

I had a wonderful and relaxing break.  My room, after 4 consecutive years of purging and organizing, was ready pretty quickly.  I felt like the stars had aligned, and this year was destined to be the best ever.

Fast forward to today.  This has been the WORST.  BTS.  EVER!

I am absolutely exhausted!  I was in a meeting with some teachers, and we are looking around at each other and everyone nodded to each other…knowingly…in mutual suffering.

One of the ladies in the group said, "It's kind of like childbirth…after awhile you forget what it was like, and then you fool yourself in to doing it again".  I definitely am suffering from selective amnesia.  I had forgotten how much work it is to guide 24 students to understand and follow so many new routines and procedures.  I had forgotten how I would probably have to give up part, or all, of almost every break/recess to spend time practicing said rules and procedures, with the little darlings who love to test their boundaries in the beginning of the year.  And, I had definitely forgotten how EVERYTHING takes 10x longer than it did last year, by end of the year. Can I hear an Amen!?

So now, not so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I am here to tell you 5 things I learned from BTS 2014:

1)  Be stubborn:  I know this sounds negative.  But, this I can be a good thing when you are a teacher.  It helps me stick to my "relentlessly consistent" mantra when it comes to discipline.  I am tired now, but I know I will be thanking myself for putting in the time upfront to deal with behavior issues right away.  This has included staying in during recess for 2-3 minutes (Turns out that is a lifetime to a 2nd grader!) to practice sitting "criss-cross applesauce", or putting papers away in their folders, or Reading to Self without disturbing others.  I never phrase it as a punishment, but more that I am here to guide and teach them until they can do it on their own.  I am teaching responsibility and self-control.  So, be stubborn.

2) Be flexible:  I know this seems contrary to what I just said above.  But, as stubborn as I am, I'm seasoned enough to know when a child needs a hug instead of a lecture.  Children are not perfect.  They make lots of mistakes. Sometimes, what we deem as baby steps, are actually huge steps for a child.  Case in point:  I had a child one year who was very bright.  He was a strong-willed, spirited little guy.  He decided when to tune in, and when to tune out with little regard for when I was actually teaching.  Sometimes he did what I asked of him the first time, and sometimes he chose not to.  Each time, we practiced following directions.  Practiced attending to the teacher.  Practiced raising our hands instead of blurting out.  Well, lets just say we did a lot of practice. It got to the point where I began to wonder if I had met my match.  My stubborn twin, if you will.  Well, it turned out that his mom showed up for Open House and stayed around until everyone had left, and then thanked me most graciously for all the good changes she had seen in her son in the short time he had been in my class.  He was happy.  He wanted to come to school.  He was sitting for lessons (which I guess wasn't the case the year before).  This information saved me!  This child, much to my surprise, had made some huge advancements from last year.

3)  Tricks Galore:  You can never have enough tricks in your bag:  Seriously, collect as many as you can when it comes to classroom management and engagement strategies.  I have a  Pinterest board with some great classroom management tips.

In the past, I've used 1-2 at any given time. This year, I have had to change things up constantly.  What worked last week, quickly loses its potency with this group of darlings. Keep it fresh.

4) Take Care of You:  This is always a tough one for me.  I'm mean let's be real.  I don't have time during BTS to eat right, exercise, and sleep 8 hours a night, right?  Wrong!  My body is already showing signs of stress, and I've been down this road enough times to know that if I don't take care of me, I'm going to end up 15 pounds heavier, and with anxiety as my new, constant companion.  No thanks and pass!  So, darn it, I will have to prepare my lunches the night before (I hate doing that.), I will have to wake up early and work out (I hate doing that.), and I will have to go to sleep at 10:00 p.m. (even when my favorite show is running a marathon late into the night).

5) Surprise, Surprise...In the End, it was All Worth It!:  Fast forward to 2015.  Can I tell you how bizarre it is to me that when I see the class from last year, my heart misses them so?  AND what is even crazier, is that they miss me too!  At the end of the year, I thought for sure they would never want to see me again.  I mean, I was Mrs. Toughlove.  I had to be.  But, I did love them...and they knew it.

Hang in there friends,



  1. Thank you for posting this! Seriously,what happened to the classes last year? Everyone on my 2nd grade team felt EXACTLY the way you described above. It was the hardest year of my teaching career. BUT, I feel exactly the same way that you do when I see those kids this year - I realize that I loved them, and I do actually miss them!

    1. Something in the water, perhaps Michelle? LOL I'm glad you connected with this post. Feels good to know I'm not alone.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...