Where does the time go? After a well-deserved holiday break, spring 2022 will be here before you can blink. The start of a new term can be exciting for students and teachers alike, but many educators have found, particularly after the stresses of 2020 and 2021, that the prospect of a return to school for what’s shaping up to be an entirely in-person spring 2022 can be a source of anxiety as much as excitement. So how can teachers keep a cool head and prepare for a great new term in 2022? Let’s have a look:
Be Honest With Yourself
After so much time with remote or hybrid learning, and many students and educators openly pining for a return to in-person learning, time with friends and coworkers, and the educational opportunities of a hands-on classroom, it can be hard to admit to trepidation. After all, shouldn’t you be excited, rather than anxious? But the first step to mastering a challenge is acknowledging it, and spring-semester stress, particularly after such an extended period of disruption, is no exception to this rule. Admit that you’re stressed or anxious, and try to sort out the root of your feelings, so that you can address them head-on before they overwhelm you.
Set a Schedule — With Breathing Room
Getting back to work after a break, there’s always a temptation to launch yourself head-first, and this can be doubly compounded if you’re going back to all in-person from remote or hybrid. Don’t fall for the trap! Overextending yourself is unhealthy and can even lead to burnout. You’re a person, not a machine, and you need to take care of yourself. Set yourself a schedule, including not just time physically in the classroom, but lesson prep, grading… and leisure time. Blocking out a certain amount of time to hang out with friends and family, work on hobbies, or just relax, is an important tool to keep yourself steady as the new term gets underway. Also helpful can be choosing a favorite leisure activity, be it gardening, painting, baking, playing a sport or instrument, or something else altogether, and making a point to engage in it at least once a week — keeping stress-busters part of your schedule!
Make Your Classroom Comfortable
You may have gotten used to the “home comforts” of remote or hybrid work: having your favorite coffee or tea always on stock, plenty of cushions on your desk chair, and soft lighting for Zoom lectures. While you might not be able to manage all of that in a classroom, you can still make it your own! Bring in favorite coffee mugs, a stash of snacks, and maybe some colorful posters to hang around the classroom to make it feel more inviting. Having a cheerful, comfortable workspace will keep you less stressed and create a more welcoming environment for your students!
Reach Out to Colleagues
You’re not alone. Ever hear the saying “A burden shared is a burden halved”? That holds true here. Many educators are suffering from back-to-school spring-term stress, and sometimes just having someone to tell you they understand is the biggest help of all. Beyond that, your colleagues will have the best insight into the unique culture of your school and area, so they can advise you in concrete and specific ways. And if they’re having the same issues you are, consider setting up weekly coffee meets or lunches. You can collaborate and share what is and isn’t working for you all, offer tips and tricks that you’ve turned to in the past, and know that you’ll have a reliable resource to turn to who knows what you’re going through. Collaboration can not only breed great ideas, but is a de-stressor in and of itself!