Professional Practice

Are You Dreading a New School Year?

For teachers, the coming of a new school year can bring mixed emotions. For most of us we are excited, rejuvenated, and ready to get back into a structured routine. But the side of returning to a new school year that no one talks about is that little feeling of dread that creeps up as a transition is looming.

Teachers and students both face a few fears and anxieties about starting a new school year.

Will I remember how to do this job? I have so many great ideas, how will I implement them all? It’s so much work planning seating charts for 500 students, I’ll never get it done… And for those of you moving buildings, rooms or even starting a new job, I won’t even go into some of the feelings you all must be experiencing. Overwhelming!

All of these thoughts and more might cross your mind. As we declutter our minds today, let’s talk about the “dreaded feeling of dread” and help get ourselves off to a very positive note as we embark on this new year.

Declutter Your Mind. Overcoming Dread.

I think dread and fear go hand in hand. We dread something because we have a fear about our own capabilities in a situation. Because we fear, we put something off, which leads to dread. The cycle continues and it makes us feel just a little yucky.

I want you to think of the one thing you may be dreading about the new school year.

Maybe it’s traveling for the first time? Perhaps its a new grading system that is being implemented or even simply your morning commute. Do you want to know my dread? Don’t laugh. It’s standing. The simple act of standing has got me all worked up. Teaching K-5, I literally stand all day. I have 6 classes per day, back to back with only a 30 minute lunch and I rarely sit down all day long. I teach at two different schools and also facilitate for our art department. Under any circumstances, standing would be just fine, but I also happen to be 8 months pregnant as the school year begins. My feet can hardly handle the grocery store. HOW will I keep up my stamina to stand all day? For everyone their fear/dread is different.

Instead of stewing and putting off your feelings, or simply complaining,  I want you to think of 5 solutions or positive thoughts you can counteract this dread with.  

Maybe you decide it’s not a big deal or find a new outlook on the situation. What is the worst that could happen? So in my case, what is the worst that could happen is my feet hurt and I have to sit down and the class gets out of control. So… I work on stricter management, find new routines,  teach the older kids to come to me if I need to sit, bring 3 pairs of shoes to work every day to switch in and out of and sit at every chance I can when students are not in the room.

If I stop thinking about my dread in the situation, and see it as “not so bad” well, it becomes no big deal. This is the attitude I embraced when I found out I would be traveling between schools and now, after 3 years of doing it, it has become my new norm, and I find it second nature.

We are in charge of the way we react and think about situations. Our thoughts become our actions. If you think something will be difficult, it will be. If you think of something as “no big deal” or “easy to solve” it probably will be.

Christine Kain recently wrote a really good post on Dread called “Christine’s Proportional Theory of Dread” which also can help you take action on a dreaded feeling that has you down.

I shared mine, now you share yours- What are you dreading about the school year? 

What solutions do you have to remedy (everyone chime in- lets help each other out)

No sitting on the sidelines today…. Declutter you mind, embrace your fears and lets help each other start the year on a positive note!  

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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