The clock struck midnight. The first day of the school year had officially begun.
And I was in my classroom. Frantic.
I’m not describing a bad dream. This is literally what was happening during the first moments of my first official day as a teacher. I wasn’t sleeping soundly in bed. Nope. Instead, I was scrambling to prepare for students to enter my classroom just hours later.
I felt exhausted, scared, and overwhelmed. Not a great way to be feeling just a few short hours before I would greet students on the first day of my first full year in the classroom.
Sadly, “exhausted, scared, and overwhelmed” would continue to serve as accurate descriptors for how I felt during many moments throughout my first year as a teacher. I often found myself in my classroom late into the evening, scrambling to plan for the next day. On many evenings, the janitor would come in to shoo me away, insisting I go home to get some rest.
But I had too much to do. Lessons needed to be planned. Papers needed to be graded. Parent phone needed to be made. Meetings needed to be prepared for. I was responsible for all of it. And I felt behind on everything. I remember feeling that if I could freeze time, I’d be able to work for pretty much a week straight and still not be caught up.
After years of working alongside early-career teachers, I know that I’m not alone. What I didn’t understand at the time is that there are research-based strategies that people can employ to feel less overwhelmed. In my next post, I’ll write about one of them.