It’s Okay to Not Be Ready for the School Year

Teachers: it is okay not to feel ready, or even motivated at all, to go back to school. Here are five ways to help prepare for the work ahead – and maybe even gain a little motivation – as you get ready for another school year.

By Kelly Richmond, Education Trainer/Coach | Aug 02, 2021
Its Okay Not To Be Ready

The 2020-21 school year was rough. Teachers taught through a pandemic, balancing in-person and virtual learning, following safety protocols, dealing with ever-changing stressors and navigating a very tough year… all while showing up each day for students. For most teachers, it was the most challenging year of their career. As we head into the first year post-Covid, many teachers are telling us that they don’t feel ready. We are here to say: it is okay not to feel ready, or even motivated at all, to go back.

There are many unknowns about this upcoming school year. What will it be like for students who did virtual learning all last year? How will students navigate social dynamics again? What safety protocols will be in place?   With all these unknowns, it makes sense to be hesitant heading into the new year. But as the start of the year approaches, there are things we can do to help.

Here are five ways to help prepare for the work ahead – and maybe even gain a little motivation – as you set your alarm again and get ready for another school year.

1. Remember your WHY.

Realistically, we didn’t get into the field of education to make millions of dollars. However, we all got into this work to change the trajectory of students, build creative successful thinkers, close the opportunity gap… whatever the reason is for you – write it down. Place it somewhere prominent as a reminder of WHY you do this work.

2. Start a gratitude list or journal.

Start by writing one or two things you’re grateful for each day. On those especially tough mornings, challenge yourself to add more things. You may be thinking, “Who has time for another thing?” But noting gratitude pays off! New research shows that giving thanks helps people sleep better, lower stress and improve relationships. Just what we need to begin every school year on the right foot!

3. Update your workspace or desk area in your classroom.

Has it been awhile since you updated your workspace? Add in new photos of loved ones or special memories. Bring in a plant (living or artificial – whatever you can manage). Move your workspace to a new spot (look for a well-lit area). Grab new pens or paper supplies. Update your classroom wishlist.

4. Proactively plan your self care plan.

Self-care doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. It can be tuning in to your spiritual, emotional or psychological needs. We like this self-care wheel from Olga Phoenix. Make a simple self-care plan that you can stick with, such as one item off the wheel or ten minutes of walking/exercise each day. Then plan for when you’ll accomplish this and put it into your schedule.

5. Speak up.

Your views and needs are incredibly important in the school workplace. If there are opportunities for you to share feedback or expertise – do so! When we share, we feel more a part of the school culture and have a better sense of belonging.

As you head into this year, remember to have grace with yourself and others. We are all navigating this complex world together.