Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Back-to-School Scaries

I dread the beginning of the school year.

Don’t get me wrong – I love teaching, for the most part. I love getting a new crop of students every year, getting a fresh start, getting to try something new and different, getting to attempt once again to stamp out ignorance.

But I dread the anxiety the beginning of the school year brings.

The anxious feelings start creeping into my mind when the first back-to-school ads come on TV or the displays go up in stores. As with most major events/holidays, these exhibitions happen earlier and earlier. When I notice them, I casually check the calendar and count the number of weeks left in summer vacation. 
I tell myself to stop, to live in the moment, but that end-of-relaxation date stays in the back of my mind.

Another dose of worry happens a few days before we teachers return for pre-school planning week. The cause is the dreaded letter from the principal. 

The message is always positive and encouraging, and when I was an ingénue, I got caught up in the excitement. This year will be my 37th in the classroom, so I’m totally able to control my enthusiasm. In addition to the “Welcome Back” message, the envelope contains the schedule for the week which usually consists of meeting after meeting after meeting. I have been in so many of these meetings for so long that I have seen the same this-is-the-thing-that-will-fix-education presented different ways and called different names at least three times.

Monday, I’ll begin again, which is the best thing about teaching. Not many professions allow a definite start/end date when you can try different strategies and materials with a whole new crop of mostly eager participants. I look at each year as my way to finally get it right, to have my best year yet.

Until Monday and for about two weeks after that, I’ll wake up at 2:00 a.m. and attempt to solve my imaginary classroom scenarios. I’ve tried everything to avoid this anxiety – exercise, no caffeine, peaceful bedtime routine, sleeping pills – but I’ve found nothing to conquer the Back-to-School Scaries.

I’ll let you know if those education experts have finally come up with that magical method that will fix education. Every year, I hope.