Surviving the Back-to-School Transition

By Jeremy Rinkel on August 1, 2011
  • Grades: 9–12

Wow! This summer is flying by. The new school year is weeks away. The transition back to school is difficult whether we’ve been off for a couple months or just a few weeks. This year will be my fifth year going through the back to school transition as a teacher. Late nights and sleeping in will soon turn into late nights and getting up early to teach. The evenings spent by the pool or in front of the TV watching movies will turn into evenings preparing for lessons or grading. I know my students will struggle with the transition, too, so it is important that I am ready for the first day.

This transition doesn’t get any easier, but here are four things you can do to survive the transition back to school.


Refresh With “Me” Time

Taking time for you, if only for an afternoon, is something everyone should do. Personally, I try and take some reflection time over the summer and ask myself how I’m doing spiritually, relationally, and professionally. Doing something I enjoy and giving myself time away from everything increases my productivity in every area of life.

Reading professional development materials I have accumulated throughout the year is another thing I do in the summer. Be sure to visit Scholastic’s professional development resources. Blocking out a little time for yourself will refresh and refocus your mind as you transition from summer back to school.

Relax With Family Time

Before your summer ends, make it a priority to spend some time with your family. It can be as simple as a family movie night or a weekend getaway. I attempt to take my family on a larger trip every other year. If you still have time to take a large vacation or even a short trip, check out “10 Ways to Have a Great Family Vacation” from FamilyTime.

Large trips are wonderful, but don’t forget the day-to-day bonding time your family deserves. I’ve noticed that it takes extra time and energy to begin the school year and that time with my family is often sacrificed. It is important to be aware of this sacrifice and get into a routine of spending time with your family at least once a week.   

Revisit Your Summer To-Do List

Summer begins with great intentions of doing a lot of work around the house. Time often gets away from me as I get into repeating a familiar phrase: “I’m on summer break. Let’s wait until tomorrow.” Now, as summer comes to an end and the new school year approaches, I’m trying to get the tasks completed that I won’t have time for or that I won’t want to think about during the school year. Once school starts, it is important to focus on my students and classroom. Thinking about what I should have done on summer break will be a huge distraction. Revisit your to-do list for an easier transition back to school.

Refocus With a Visit to Your Classroom

Making a visit to your classroom will help refocus your mind and allow you to begin thinking about the upcoming school year. A visit to my classroom last week got me thinking about bulletin boards, desk arrangements, and new activities to try with my students. I often sit in one of my students’ desks and ask myself how I could create a more interactive and exciting learning atmosphere. Keep in mind that the maintenance department at your school has summer duties to complete before teachers and students return to school, so plan accordingly. There is nothing more frustrating than going to the door of your school and seeing a sign posted: “Do not enter, wet wax.” 

How do you survive the transition back to school?



Creating a to do list is so important for teachers. I know the summer is flying by and I had so many things I wanted to do. Thank you for reminding me of this with this post. I will definitely save time for myself.

Melissa, Thank you for your comment. It is very important to create a classroom that is visually appealing to my students. Sitting in their desks gives me a different perspective. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Great tips! I love the part about sitting in the desks and getting a very child-like experience that's fully interactive!

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