Dread and Avoidance; The Countdown to September 1st
Whether it is August 26th or September 1st, the countdown to heading back to school usually begins once you hit August. To non-teachers the best way to illustrate the feeling is to compare it to the countdown to Christmas, which entails excitement and the preparation. Well, imagine the opposite of that, that's the countdown to September 1st!
It is not the worst thing in the world, in fact, just like a vomiting bug you pick up off a 4 year old in your class, it could be worse. But just because it could be worse, doesn't mean we should suck it up, no, we need to talk about it!
Too often teachers see this dread as a sign they are in the wrong job, especially if they do not meet the excited dazzling standards of those blogging muinteoirí who are feverishly buying half of Mr Price and decorating their classrooms to within an inch of a Pinterest post they saw online. No, you are not in the wrong job, and yes you should feel the way you feel. Below in my opinion, are the feelings more common for the average teacher before returning to school!
The dread, oh the DREAD! That uneasy, anxious feeling at the pit of your stomach each time you see ads on T.V for school uniforms or the throngs of "back to school" bits in every shop. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming, you find you have to treat yourself to some cake and coffee, because of the absolute shock it has educed! This dread does not relate to the actual job, it relates to the worry - a new class, new kids, new parents, new curriculum, new policies and new procedures which make starting school each year like a NEW JOB. Just like parents and children worry each year so do teachers. When you say "I can't believe I have to go back to school" it has noting to do with wanting the holidays to be longer, its speaks more to the natural phenomena that everyone feels in situations they cannot anticipate the outcome of - which lets be honest, is walking into a new classroom with new kids on the first day of school. So the dread teachers feel, is similar to how others experience anxiety before a new job. It is a psychological reaction and usually has noting to do with how long the holidays are or how long you had off (actually research shows the longer away the event you dread is, can actually make it worse!!!) now I am not arguing for shorter holidays but the next time someone says "I do not know why you are complaining with your holidays" you can say "research shows the problem IS the long holidays!"
Secondly, instead of preparing, you begin to develop and master your avoidance skills, to prolong that summer feeling. You avoid Mr Price and Dealz so you do not get sucked into feeling guilty for not buying another 24 blue pins that will be missing by the Halloween break. You start you think and say things like "I need to make the most of my remaining holidays" but still end up watching re-runs of Gilmore Girls and eating pizza for dinner "one last time". However, like most situations you dread or perceive will be difficult its doesn't actually materialise, and usually that first morning with up to 38 wide eyed children from tiredness and freedom, teaching again is like riding a bike, you never forgot and you're still great at it!
You might scold yourself for not having a few spare copies, or more activities planned or you might even start thinking you could have easily done one hour planning a day for the week before. You may even hear well meaning colleagues (!!!) say "sure it could have been done". However, thats the least of your worries now! Once you settle in, you realise for the next nine months you are back to the common pitfalls, albeit small, of being a primary school teacher. From not having the freedom to pee when you want, to getting every bug going within the first two months, and slowly having your lavishly prepared lunches reduced an apple and whatever is in the fridge, you are now at the mercy of Pinterest envy for your classroom that is never fulfilled!
So maybe next year allow yourself to feel a little dread, and avoid a little, because its natural.