How Teachers Can Quell Their Back-To-School Anxiety

Is back-to-school anxiety keeping you awake at night? Even veteran teachers face anxiety at the start of a new school year. You may be teaching a whole new grade in a whole new school, or maybe nothing is changing except a new class of students. It doesn’t matter; anxiety can happen to anyone, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

While that anxiety will likely begin to dissipate after you’ve been in the classroom with your students for a couple of weeks, there are things you can do to combat that anxiety right now.

And we’re going to help you do it.

Tip 1: Mourn The Loss Of Free Time Without Dwelling On It

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that no one is excited to lose their free time. Sure, you may be excited to get back to work with your students, but we all know that teaching is a lot of hard work with long hours. And while there are ways to work better at school and less at home, you simply aren’t going to have as much free time during the school year as you would like. It’s okay to feel sad about this, but the key is not to dwell on it. Remember all the reasons you love teaching, and use that as a way to stop dreading your return to the classroom.

Tip 2: Don’t Worry About What Your Students Think Of You

It’s easy to get wrapped up in worrying about gaining the respect of your students. Sometimes this takes the form of strict rules and policies, and sometimes this takes the forms of teachers trying to form a friendship with students.

You’ll be amazed at how much anxiety you’ll eliminate just by not worrying about your students’ opinions. Focus on doing your job well; including showing your students you care about them and their well-being. But it’s impossible to make every student happy, and worrying about doing so is just going to increase anxiety.

You can’t control if your students like you or not. In all likelihood, some of your students will like you while others don’t. By accepting this as an issue that cannot be controlled, you can let go of the stress that comes with those fears.

Tip 3: Embrace Your Blank Slate

Instead of being fearful about building a new classroom community, think instead about the blank slate you’ve been given. How many employees are able to start completely fresh every single year? This is an amazing opportunity for you to take advantage of, for both you and your students.

This can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by setting your back to school goals for the new year. These will give you a starting point for how you want to set up your classroom. Even small changes can make a huge difference in your classroom. Get excited! There’s so much you can do in your classroom to facilitate learning and community.

You can do just about anything you want before your students arrive. Decorate your classroom a way you’ve never tried before. Change up your classroom management style. Add new routines or try out new tools you never got to last year. There’s still time to make some big decisions about how your classroom will run. Don’t dread it, get excited!

Tip 4: Think About What You’re Gaining

It’s easy to get yourself into a cycle of anxiety when thinking about heading back to school. When that starts to happen, take a step back and think about what you’re gaining from the new school year.

  • The ability to start with a blank slate
  • The opportunity to change the lives of your students and their families
  • The relationships you’ll form with students and colleagues
  • The chance to empower the next generation
  • The new things you’ll be able to try in your classroom
  • The people you’ll meet who will make an impact on your own life

 

What tricks do you have to combat back-to-school anxiety? Let us know in the comments!


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How To Transition Kids To Kindergarten

Heading back to school can be tough for any kids, but it’s especially tough for students heading into school for the first time. Even for kids who went to pre-school, kindergarten is a big deal. It’s the first time they’ll be away from home and in school for an entire school day, and it can be overwhelming.

The first couple of weeks are extremely important. This is the time where you set expectations and give your students an idea of what school life will be like. It’s important to be prepared to meet this challenge head on.

Create A Welcoming Environment

You want to give your students a positive first impression when they enter your classroom for the first time. The best way to do that is by creating a classroom space that feels both comfortable and welcoming. Make sure each student feels included as soon as they step inside. A great way to do this is by featuring student names on a bulletin board or door.

Classroom décor will go a long way in making students feel welcome. You want your classroom to feel inviting, so make sure your space is spruced up for the occasion.

Prepare For Homesick Students

There will probably be a fair amount of tears from students (and parents) for the first couple of days. This is to be expected. The best thing you can do is make sure homesick students get involved in the tasks of the day. Distract them with activities and games. The more fun and interested your students are in your class, the faster they will get over their homesickness.

Having some comfort items such as stuffed animals can make a big difference for the first couple of days. If the initial homesickness doesn’t seem to be passing, get in touch with the student’s family to determine what might be making the transition so hard for the student.

Use Students’ Names Immediately

Using a students’ name is an important step in forming a connection. The sooner you start using names, the better. Make sure each student has a nametag visible on their desk. Depending on the school size, you may even want to give students wearable nametags to help keep track of students during transition periods. No matter what you do, make it a point to use student names every time you call on them to breed familiarity.

You may also choose to play a “name game” as an icebreaker. This will not only help you get to know your students better, but help your students get to know each other.

Establish Classroom Routines

A smooth first day begins and ends with a solid classroom routine. Giving your students a routine helps them understand what to expect every day in school. This can lessen anxiety and help to dictate student behavior. Posting a daily schedule somewhere all the students can see it is recommended. A lot of your students probably won’t be reading yet, so using visuals in addition to text is important.

The start of the school year is when you have to establish classroom behaviors. Make sure students understand how you want them to line up, enter class, turn in work, and how to ask to use the bathroom. Once you’ve explained these expectations, be sure to practice the routines daily for at least a week until students understand the routines fully.

Take Students On Tour

One of the easiest ways to get students comfortable in their new environment is to help them get to know it better. By giving students a tour of the school you’ll ease anxiety and make each student feel like part of the school community.

Take students around the whole school on your tour. Show them the cafeteria, gym, library, and any other room they are likely to spend time in. By the end of the tour they’ll already be more confident about their new school!

Be Open About Yourself

Your students should feel comfortable around you, but that will be hard if they know nothing about you. Make sure you share details about yourself with your students. Why did you decide to become a teacher? What are the things you enjoy doing? Remember that your students don’t know you and you may be their first teacher. Building a relationship in the classroom goes both ways.

Good luck!


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The Ultimate Back To School Classroom Supplies List

The new school year is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start stocking up on school supplies you need for the classroom.

There’s thousands upon thousands of school supply options out there, and browsing them can get overwhelming. The school supplies you choose to invest in for your classroom can make teaching during the school year much easier.

No matter what grade you teach or how many years you’ve been teaching, there are some essential supplies that you need to have on-hand. We’re here to help you out.

Basic Supplies

These are the items that usually come to mind when an individual first thinks about “school supplies”. Even if you’ve asked your students to bring these essential items to school, it’s important to have some on-hand for students that may forget them or whose family cannot afford them.

A lot of these products can be purchased in bulk as class packs, which will help you save money and help your supplies last you the entire school year, and possibly longer.

  • Writing Utensils
  • Notebooks
  • Lined Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue/Glue Sticks
  • Folders
  • Grade Book
  • Rulers
  • Index Cards
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Calculator
  • Classroom Décor
  • Erasers
  • Construction Paper
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils

Organization Supplies

Staying organized throughout the school year will make your life so much easier. How you choose to organize your classroom is very dependant on the teacher, but there are a variety of supplies that make the job much easier.

Different types of organization materials work best for different types of materials. Bins are great for small supplies and toys, while hanging organizers are best for documents. Choose which ones work best for your specific needs.

  • Plastic Storage Bins
  • Hanging Organizers
  • Organizer Cart
  • File Folders
  • Caddies
  • Command Hooks
  • Desk Organizer

 

Hygiene Supplies

Classrooms can get messy for a variety of reasons. Snacks, class parties, cold/flu season, and art projects can all cause huge messes. By investing in the right hygiene supplies, you’ll be prepared for anything.

  • Wet Wipes
  • Paper Towels
  • Boxes of Tissues
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Band-aids

 

Office Supplies

It’s easy to forget about smaller office supplies, but these are things you will be using almost daily. Make sure you’ve got everything before school starts.

  • Stapler/Staples
  • Tape
  • Sticky Notes
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Desk Calendar
  • Paper Clips
  • Labels
  • Highlighters
  • Binder Clips
  • Staple Remover
  • Printer Paper

Personal Care Supplies

While these supplies aren’t essential for day-to-day classroom operations, having them in your classroom will make you much more comfortable when you do need them. Be kind to future you by gathering these for your classroom.

  • Tylenol
  • Snacks
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Water Bottles
  • Cough Drops
  • Deodorant
  • Hand Lotion

Ready to start shopping? Head to NationalSchoolSupply.com to get your back to school supplies at a price you’ll love!

 


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Easy Ways To Make STEM Part Of Your Elementary Classroom

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is huge in education right now. There’s been a big push to have better STEM education, especially for women. But STEM doesn’t have to focus on complex topics such as coding and robotics. You can begin to introduce STEM to your students even in elementary classrooms.

STEM is not meant to only be about equations and technology. STEM lessons should focus on critical thinking, observation, and innovation. You can take it a step farther by considering the debate around STEAM, which brings liberal arts into the fold. The A is meant to address the creative thinking that is necessary for innovative thinking.

With such broad goals it is actually easier to incorporate STEM education into your elementary class than you may have thought.

Why Start Young?

The earlier a child starts to interact with a topic, the more their understanding of STEM topics will grow. STEM isn’t simply a specific skill, but a way of thinking. By teaching students at a young age to think in a STEM-focused way, they’ll be more encouraged to pursue STEM education farther down the line.

Fostering interest at a young age is paramount to keeping students interested as they grow. By showing students that they can succeed at STEM lessons early, they’ll be more incentivized to try and pursue more advanced courses and degrees.

But How?

You do not have to re-do your entire classroom structure to integrate STEM into your classroom. You don’t even have to invest in a lot of expensive equipment.

Use STEM Vocabulary in Everyday Lessons.

By adding language that is traditionally used in STEM programs, you are allowing students to become familiar with those words and a specific way of thinking. You can use this vocabulary in any of your lessons, including art, play time, and English.

Here are a few examples:

  • Theory – Use instead of “why”
  • Experiment – Use instead of “try”
  • Observe – Use instead of “see”
  • Data – Use instead of “facts”
  • Design – use instead of “make”

Introduce Technology

Technology is extremely important when it comes to STEM education, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Introduce your students to rising technology like iPads and smart phones. Show them that these devices are not just for play, but for education.

Click here for some great technology resources that you can use in your lessons.

Use Inquiry Based Teaching

Instead of leading students through a step by step structured model of learning, allow more room for free thinking. A big part of STEM education is giving students the room to come up with new ideas, try, fail, and try again.

You can support your students without telling them exactly how to complete a task. By forcing them to think on their own, they’ll amaze themselves with the types of solutions they come up with. Students will take more ownership over their own education, which is something they must do in the long run to have successful careers.

Find STEM Activities Online

You don’t have to plan STEM activities all on your own (though you certainly can). There’s thousands of amazing STEM activities out there that you can base a lesson around or add to a lesson you’ve already planned.

There are STEM activities centered around just about every topic, from geometry and chemistry to English and geography. Find a couple you like and try them out with your class.

 

We’ll be creating a huge STEM resource on our website soon, but in the meantime you can shop by subject on our website to fulfill your STEM needs.


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July Craft: Constellation Jar

Enjoy the night sky from inside your own home! This unique craft is easy to do and comes with a built-in science lesson. Talk about the stars and constellations while creating a beautiful, light-up display that your child can observe on cloudy or rainy days.

This constellation jar can be lit using either a glow stick or a tealight. Which you choose depends on several factors such as the size of the jar and your comfort with using flames in your home. An electric tealight is a good alternative to tealights requiring open flames.

Here’s what you’ll need to do this craft:

Materials:

Mason Jar
Blue Construction Paper
Pencil
Scissors
Tape
Glow Stick Or Tealight

You can find the full instructions with photos by clicking HERE.

Check back next month for another craft you can do with your kids.

We want to see your craft projects! Share a picture of your constellation jar craft in the comments!


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