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Back to School: How Teachers Can Mentally Prepare

Janelle Cox

The stress of the new school year may seem a like a distant memory to some, while to others it’s inevitable arrival feels like it never left. To help you get ready to go back to school, here is a little advice on how to mentally prepare so that you can maintain a healthy, happy work-life balance.

Dive into Your Back to School Feelings and Emotions

The first thing that you will want to do to mentally prepare yourself for going back to school is to think about how you feel about it. When you think of going back to work, are you excited or are you dreading it? This type of exercise will bring out how you really feel about your job, and if this job is the right job for you. It’s completely normal to be sad that your summer is over, but if you are completely dreading going back to school then you may start to reconsider if this job is the right one for you. Feeling negative about returning to work is not a good sign. If you’re just not sure how you feel about it, then try writing down your feelings. This is a good way to let your emotions out and to see how you really are feeling.

Use Self-Reflection

Think about what worked for you the previous school year, and what did not. If you found that you were spending a lot of time online looking up teaching strategies versus spending time with your family, then you will want to consider changing the way you do things. By using self-reflection you are gaining insight into what makes you happy, and what doesn’t.

Listen to Your Body

This is a hard one for a lot of people. It’s difficult enough for people to sit still for a few minutes, let alone sit still and really be mindful of their bodies and what they need. Take a few minutes and sit and mentally think about what it is that your body needs. Is it hurting? Does it feel good? Are you need of exercise? Take these moments to mentally address you physical needs. Do you think it’s time for a physical? Should you start taking a multivitamin? Address any concerns that you have before school starts so that you will be mentally and physically well for the new school year.

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Be Mindful

You may have heard that being mindful will help you in your daily life. Well, you are right. Science has proven that practicing mindfulness will increase your happiness. By focusing your attention in the present moment you can: savor the pleasures of life as they happen, help relieve stress, improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, as well as improve your mental health for elements such as depression, anxiety, conflicts and more. Try a few mindful techniques to help you relax and prepare you for the new school term.

Mindful Techniques

  • Try to focus you attention on one object or count your each breath as you inhale and exhale.
  • Download a mediation app where you can sit, stare, and listen as a guide walks you through a mediation.
  • Listen to your favorite song while cleaning the house, or try a new balance pose on your yoga mat.

Think About Your Work-Home Balance

Being a teacher can take a lot of out you. It’s not just a 9-5 job where you can go home after work and not think about your job until you get there in the morning. Teachers have to plan, plan, and plan again. A lot of their social time is spent planning for the next day or week of school. It’s important for your mental and physical health that you find a way to divide your work and home life. Find time to relax after work, instead of searching for new activities to do with your students every night, only dedicate one night a week. This will help with your overall well-being and happiness.

Set Small Achievable Goals

Set small goals that you know that you will be able to meet. We all have big ideas and big plans for ourselves but by setting small, achievable goals that you know you can meet, you are setting yourself for success. By achieving these small goals, you are better able to tackle those hard, long term goals in the future.

Spend a Few Days Preparing

You will feel less mentally stressed if you walk into your classroom the week before school and know that you are prepared. Instead of stressing out at the end of the summer to get things done, why not try to get organized at the end of the school year? If you do this, you will feel less panicked and more in control come the fall. 

Watch a Great Teacher

Great teachers are always learning and are passionate about their job. Take some time and observe other teachers in their craft. Watching a great teacher can help mentally prepare you for the upcoming school year. It will get you excited about the difference that you can make in your classroom. If you can’t get into another teachers summer school class, then try watching a few different educators online. There are a number videos on YouTube that show teachers in their own classrooms demonstrating a lesson.

Managing your metal stress before the start of the new school year, will not only improve your mental stress, but your physical stress as well. When you meet your small, achievable goals be sure to treat yourself. And, don’t forget in order to have a rewarding new school year, there must be balance.

How do you mentally prepare for the new school year? Do you have tips that you can share with your fellow educators? Please leave your ideas below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.