I love summer. Like, I really love summer. People talk about getting board during the summer, and I have to say… I do not. I love summer. But do you know what I do not love about summer? The summer anxiety that goes along with it.
Also known as back to school anxiety, summer anxiety is that feeling of dread and terror every time that you think about the upcoming school year. It often includes nightmares about all of the terrible things that can go wrong next year— or that did go wrong last year– and causes stress shopping in the Target Dollar Spot.
For a long time, I thought that I was totally alone in this whole summer anxiety thing. Then one day, of the the administrators made a comment about having back to school nightmares.
I couldn’t believe that other people had this same problem– but I was so glad other people have this problem.
So if you have this problem as well, I want you to know a few things about summer anxiety, and also about how to combat it so that it does not ruin your summer.
If you prefer to watch/listen, then you can check out the video version of this post on my YouTube– I really believe this is an important subject!
What causes summer anxiety?
Summer anxiety is cause by the fear of the unknown– it is as simple as that. New school years bring new students, new teachers, new curriculums, new administrators, new rules, etc. Everything can change over a summer– and you will not know until you return for preplanning in the fall. All of the unknowns cause you to feel stress.
Summer Anxiety is Normal
When we hit one month before preplanning, I started to freak out. I was already starting to have nightmares, and every time I would think about school, I would get a feeling of dread in my stomach.
And when you spend all summer workings on Teachers Pay Teachers, my new teacher-centered Etsy shop, making YouTube videos for teachers, and my new book all about teaching, it is not something that I could get away from. Well, I could, but that would cause me to have far fewer YouTube videos and TPT products, which I would regret once school starts and I get truly busy.
I put a poll out on my Instagram stories (Do you follow me on Instagram? You definitely should!) and almost all of the teachers who answered said that they also felt summer anxiety. This is of course not a super professional study, but it did tell me that two things:
- I am not alone.
- Other people might need help navigating this.
Summer anxiety does not make you a bad teacher
I would venture to say the opposite– if you are spending part of your summer worrying about the next school year, then you must be a good teacher. One who wants to do her best and make next year as good as possible.
Summer anxiety is all about wanting this year to go well. That may manifest itself in dread (guilty!), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be a teacher, or that you are a bad teacher. It simply means that you know some of the realities of things that can happen in the course of a school year, and that you want to be good.
If you are worried about the school year in the summer, than you are a good teacher. Period.
So what can we do about summer anxiety?
So, we have established that you are not alone, and that you are a good teacher. But…. we still do not want you to spend the whole summer stressing.
There are plenty of things that you can do in order to decrease the anxiety and help yourself move on. Here are a few ideas:
Accept that you cannot fix everything now.
One of the main causes of summer anxiety is all of the unknowns about the upcoming school year. Want to know the real, scary truth? You cannot fix all of them right now. You will not be able to find out your schedule or your roster until it is time for school to start. And that stinks. But, you need to accept that some things will be unknowns until preplanning. Tell yourself that you can deal with it once school starts, and move on. As best you can, at least.
Focus on the positives.
I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel anxious about the school year, I am thinking about all of the things that went wrong. I am thinking about the one time that a student with autism ran out of the room. Or the one time that there was a child jumping off of the tables (that hold pianos!) and his parents told me, “Well, he’s 6. He has some energy.” (True story, by the way.) Or the time that I had to physically restrain a student who hadn’t taken her medicine because she tried to attack another student in the class, which resulted in me getting hit, kicked, scratched, pinched, and bit (Which, by the way, prompted me to write the post Going Back to Teaching After a Really Rough Day.)
Now, honestly, I do not normally get quite that real in my blog or my YouTube videos or my Instagram. Not because I do not think that I should, but because I know that there are a lot of teachers who read that last paragraph and totally changed their opinion of me. Some people cannot relate, and therefore think that 1. I am crazy or 2. I have no idea how to manage my class. Just so you know, I am not crazy, and I do know how to mange my class. But I have some really difficult children who are in really rough situations, and sometimes they manifest themselves in behaviors such as the ones above.
In this post, I want to be as real as possible, because I know that there are people in similar situations with similar problems who are currently stressing out about those kinds of things. And I want them to be able to know they are not alone. If you read that and think that clearly I have lost my mind, then just count yourself lucky and pray you never have a situation like that.
I do not want to get too deep into this, but may write a whole post about this subject by itself.
When you have really rough things that have happened, it is really hard to stop thinking about them. And you may have a really hard time not dwelling on them and being terrified that they will happen again.
I get that I have been there. You are not alone.
But in order to have less anxiety and stress, try thinking about some of your favorite moments from the last school year. Think about the things that went right, and things that you cannot wait to experience again.
Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. If you think about the positive things, then you will have a much better outlook on the upcoming school year.
A few things that I am reminding myself to look forward to:
- Having a whole 1st grade class using their singing voices
- Having students request a song
- The first performance with my choir
- A class that goes as planned
- A student telling me that I am their favorite teacher
Those are just a couple of really amazing things that happened last year, that I am looking forward to and focusing on. The more I focus on them, the less I focus on those bad things that happened.
Now, we established that there are a lot of things you do not have control over and cannot deal with yet. But there are also a lot of things you can do now to feel more prepared and less stressed.
Make some goals: What are some things you want to accomplish this year? What will you do better? Start thinking of ways that you can have your best year yet now. Maybe come up with new routines (check out this post!) or make a plan to get organized (and I have the lesson planning templates for that!).
Planning your curriculum: Start looking for some things you would like to incorporate this year! Now is the best time to pick a couple of fun lessons out. You can peruse Pinterest, or look on blogs (if you teach music, I have tons of free lessons on here that you can check out– you can also gain access to the free resource library by clicking here!)
Plan your classroom: Now, I do not like to spend a lot of money on my classroom, but I do like to buy or make a few little things here and there to help me “nest”. Having a new book or a new rug or a new banner will help you the feel a little more excited and a little bit less stressed for the upcoming year. Check out my classroom tour here.
Do you experience summer anxiety? How do you deal with it? Let us know down in the comments!
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