Today is the last day of July, but was my first day back in “school mode” (and hence last day of my summer break). I had day 1 of a 4 day training for the new math program our district adopted for 6th-12th grade. While I was very excited to being learning about this new resource, about mid day I hit my “overwhelming point” as I realized how not ready I am for school to start.
Heading into my 6th year teaching, there are many things I am NOT worried about like I was 6 years ago. However, having 3 new preps I am teaching, and a new program for the 1 prep I am familiar with has left me with more questions today that I was prepared to be thinking about. All through our teacher preparation programs, student teaching, first year teaching, resident educator programs and beyond, we tell ourselves and others how flexible teachers have to be (in more ways than one). Flexability is one of the keys to successful teaching, but so is structure and organization, and today, the structure and organization is what really got me.
I started to worry about the little things, that to me, felt like big things. I had the overwhleming feelings from wondering
- “how am I going to have students set up their notebooks”
- “how am I going to have to change and modify the structure and flow of our class period to meet the components of this program”
- “how can I best integrate my content areas with the time blocks I have”
- “what will my homework policy be now that I am teaching 2 contents for 2 grades with new resources”
- “what will my students have access to”
- “how am I going to set my students up for succes when it comes to thinking, learning and working together?”
The question list can go on and on, but the answers have yet to come. As I was grocery shopping today (one of my favorite things to do), I convinced myself that it was okay I did not know all the answers to the list of questions racing through my mind. I reminded myself that I do not need to work three chapters ahead of myself. I do not need to know what September, October and November are going to be like. I do not need to have everything perfect day one (or even by day 100). What matters are the 100+ smiling faces I will get to great at breakfast duty on the 16th. What matters are the 30 fifth graders who will get to spend the first half of their day in my room getting comfortable with each other and with me. What matters are the 30 sixth graders I get to spend the second half of the day with and walk out of the building after their last first day as elementary students.
While these next 16 days are going to fly by, I am going to have to keep reminding myself, that I don’t need to have everything perfectly figured out in 16 days. If it takes until the first full week for school before we do our first “real math lesson from the new text book” that will be okay. If it takes us until midway through the first or even second full week of school before students and myself are comfortable accessing all the features of our online science program and virtual labs, that is okay.
So all you other teachers out there who understand exactly where my worries and anxiety are coming from– try to keep getting sleep, take deep breaths and remember to take it one step at a time. Trust me, easier said than done, I know. I know I am going to struggle even taking my own advice at times as we head into August, but we can do it!