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August 28, 2015

Calming First Day of School Jitters

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    This September, I will be entering my 29th year of teaching. Even though I consider myself a well-seasoned teacher, the first day of school triggers a sense of anxiousness. I would love to say that it is pure excitement and for the most part it is just that. But after all of my years of teaching, I still have those first day jitters — calm and cool on the outside and a bundle of nerves on the inside.

    The night before my students arrive, I find myself in the losing battle of getting a good night’s sleep. My mind is racing with thoughts of the day ahead of me. I wonder about my students and the development of class community in our classroom. I also think about what new demands/initiatives will be placed upon our profession. Will these initiatives get in the way of teaching? It is at this moment that I give myself a reality check and get down to the business of doing what I do: TEACH!

    There are a few colleagues I stayed in contact with over the summer. In one communication I brought up the topic of first day jitters and how to keep them in check. It was really interesting to see that even though the years of teaching amongst this group range from 1 to almost 30, we use similar strategies to settle our nerves. Some of my colleagues were surprised to hear that I have “first day jitters.” I guess I live up to the motto, "Never let them see you sweat!" Our conversation revealed this common theme, we love what we do and want the best learning experience for our students!

    Calming the First Day Jitters

    The Days Before

    Create a to-do list

    Include the major points of interest that you want to cover the first day. I am crawling out of the technological Ice Age and am now using the Notes app on my phone to create my to-do list.

      

    I make sure my bags are packed the night before to avoid wasting time in the morning.

    Do something for yourself

    A spa day works wonders. And yes, this goes for the men who teach as well! Treating yourself to a massage helps to release tension and stress. Doing something for yourself could also be a free, no-frills activity such as going for a walk with family or friends.

     

    Set your wardrobe for the week

    Having a sense of what you are going to wear is one thing less off of your plate. I already know that Fridays are dress-down day. I usually wear a school T-shirt with presentable jeans. This year, due to my Dr. Seuss classroom theme, I have decided to incorporate the colors red, black, and white. So one day out of the week, I will be wearing these colors.

     

    Plan a yummy first-day lunch

    Most days I take leftovers for lunch. But for the first day, I like to treat myself either by ordering food and having it delivered or making one of my famous salads. Don't forget the healthy snack! My favorites are nuts and crunchy veggies!

     

    Go to bed at a reasonable time

    Try to get plenty of rest. Be sure to wind down and keep your evening simple and as stress-free as possible. I am really going to try hard on this one. My plan is to have some chamomile tea before I go to bed and not watch the eleven o'clock news.

     

    The Day Of

    Plan to go in early

    This gives you time to make sure that everything is set up the way you want it to be.

     

     

     

    Create a calm atmosphere for yourself

    Whether it is a picture of your family or a happy moment in your life, a screensaver on your laptop that brings a smile to your face, or inspirational words posted in your classroom, have something that will help settle your nerves. I treat myself to shea butter hand cream. Just the beautiful scent makes me go “Ahh!” and the extra benefit: soft hands!

     

    Have lunch with your colleagues

    Take that yummy lunch that you have prepared and go outside and enjoy the sunshine (if possible). Being outside does a body good! 

     

    Play music

    This was a common thread with my colleagues. We all used music in some shape or form. Whether it was playing an energetic song on the way to work, or a motivational piece in the classroom before the students arrive, we all had our go-to selection, a source of comfort. Some of the songs were:

    • "I’m Every Woman" either the Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston version

    • "Good Morning Baltimore" from the musical Hairspray

    • "I Feel Good" by James Brown

    • "Gonna Fly Now" from the movie Rocky

    • "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor

    • Instrumental music — any genre

    At the End of the Day

    Reflect on how the day went

    Celebrate those moments of success and strategize on those moments that need to be tweaked. My plan for this year is to keep a journal to highlight those moments that I am going to call “Blessings."  When I have something that tries my patience, I can go back and revisit a moment that brings a smile to my face.

    I know that some of you are already teaching in the classroom. This post is still for you. These ideas can be used for any school event that may cause you that moment of the jitters.

    Pearls of Wisdom — Approach your first day with your new students as the beginning of a new journey. There will be some bumps in the road, but for the most part, it's going to be one heck of an amazing ride!

    For those of you who have been tuning in, welcome back!  For those of you who are new, welcome aboard! Do you have any tips to calm the first day jitters? I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

    Stayed tuned for my next post when I reveal a tour of my classroom using a Dr. Seuss theme.

     

    This September, I will be entering my 29th year of teaching. Even though I consider myself a well-seasoned teacher, the first day of school triggers a sense of anxiousness. I would love to say that it is pure excitement and for the most part it is just that. But after all of my years of teaching, I still have those first day jitters — calm and cool on the outside and a bundle of nerves on the inside.

    The night before my students arrive, I find myself in the losing battle of getting a good night’s sleep. My mind is racing with thoughts of the day ahead of me. I wonder about my students and the development of class community in our classroom. I also think about what new demands/initiatives will be placed upon our profession. Will these initiatives get in the way of teaching? It is at this moment that I give myself a reality check and get down to the business of doing what I do: TEACH!

    There are a few colleagues I stayed in contact with over the summer. In one communication I brought up the topic of first day jitters and how to keep them in check. It was really interesting to see that even though the years of teaching amongst this group range from 1 to almost 30, we use similar strategies to settle our nerves. Some of my colleagues were surprised to hear that I have “first day jitters.” I guess I live up to the motto, "Never let them see you sweat!" Our conversation revealed this common theme, we love what we do and want the best learning experience for our students!

    Calming the First Day Jitters

    The Days Before

    Create a to-do list

    Include the major points of interest that you want to cover the first day. I am crawling out of the technological Ice Age and am now using the Notes app on my phone to create my to-do list.

      

    I make sure my bags are packed the night before to avoid wasting time in the morning.

    Do something for yourself

    A spa day works wonders. And yes, this goes for the men who teach as well! Treating yourself to a massage helps to release tension and stress. Doing something for yourself could also be a free, no-frills activity such as going for a walk with family or friends.

     

    Set your wardrobe for the week

    Having a sense of what you are going to wear is one thing less off of your plate. I already know that Fridays are dress-down day. I usually wear a school T-shirt with presentable jeans. This year, due to my Dr. Seuss classroom theme, I have decided to incorporate the colors red, black, and white. So one day out of the week, I will be wearing these colors.

     

    Plan a yummy first-day lunch

    Most days I take leftovers for lunch. But for the first day, I like to treat myself either by ordering food and having it delivered or making one of my famous salads. Don't forget the healthy snack! My favorites are nuts and crunchy veggies!

     

    Go to bed at a reasonable time

    Try to get plenty of rest. Be sure to wind down and keep your evening simple and as stress-free as possible. I am really going to try hard on this one. My plan is to have some chamomile tea before I go to bed and not watch the eleven o'clock news.

     

    The Day Of

    Plan to go in early

    This gives you time to make sure that everything is set up the way you want it to be.

     

     

     

    Create a calm atmosphere for yourself

    Whether it is a picture of your family or a happy moment in your life, a screensaver on your laptop that brings a smile to your face, or inspirational words posted in your classroom, have something that will help settle your nerves. I treat myself to shea butter hand cream. Just the beautiful scent makes me go “Ahh!” and the extra benefit: soft hands!

     

    Have lunch with your colleagues

    Take that yummy lunch that you have prepared and go outside and enjoy the sunshine (if possible). Being outside does a body good! 

     

    Play music

    This was a common thread with my colleagues. We all used music in some shape or form. Whether it was playing an energetic song on the way to work, or a motivational piece in the classroom before the students arrive, we all had our go-to selection, a source of comfort. Some of the songs were:

    • "I’m Every Woman" either the Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston version

    • "Good Morning Baltimore" from the musical Hairspray

    • "I Feel Good" by James Brown

    • "Gonna Fly Now" from the movie Rocky

    • "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor

    • Instrumental music — any genre

    At the End of the Day

    Reflect on how the day went

    Celebrate those moments of success and strategize on those moments that need to be tweaked. My plan for this year is to keep a journal to highlight those moments that I am going to call “Blessings."  When I have something that tries my patience, I can go back and revisit a moment that brings a smile to my face.

    I know that some of you are already teaching in the classroom. This post is still for you. These ideas can be used for any school event that may cause you that moment of the jitters.

    Pearls of Wisdom — Approach your first day with your new students as the beginning of a new journey. There will be some bumps in the road, but for the most part, it's going to be one heck of an amazing ride!

    For those of you who have been tuning in, welcome back!  For those of you who are new, welcome aboard! Do you have any tips to calm the first day jitters? I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!

    Stayed tuned for my next post when I reveal a tour of my classroom using a Dr. Seuss theme.

     
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