Make this school year stress free

When I was starting out as a teacher, I often felt completely overwhelmed by all of the ‘stuff’ that goes with the job. First of all there was the teaching ‘stuff’ – the planning, assessing, marking, moderating, reporting, feedback-ing and collaborating. As well as excursions, assembly performances, disco supervision, parent-teacher interviews and inspiring a love of reading in each and every child.

Then there was the physical stuff – the kids’ books, equipment, folders, my resources, all of the lost and found items that quickly pile up, and everything else that seems to accumulate on a daily basis.

And finally there was the admin ‘stuff’ – where to put the permission notes, how to remember when things were due to my supervisor, how to get all of those admin jobs done without taking them home at night, or worse, over the weekend. I never felt like I had gotten to the bottom of the to-do list, let alone found owners for all that lost property (side note – parents, please label everything!).

No wonder we get overwhelmed.

Rather than thinking about the start of the year as being overwhelming, frazzled and rushed, think about it as an opportunity to set up yourself, your students and your classroom to work more efficiently. The quicker you can get systems in place that save you time and stress, the better. I absolutely believe that by spending a bit of time at the start of the year getting organised, you will get that time back ten-fold over the coming months.

To get started, think about the areas of your classroom, or the aspects of your job that caused you the most frustration last year. Was it physical spaces – your classroom, desk or office? Or how you managed your time? What were the things you couldn’t find or keep on top of? What were you always forgetting or losing?

If you can deal with at least one frustrating thing at the start of the school year, how much time and energy would you get back each and every week? Before the students start, put a solution in place to help you deal with what was annoying last year. Did it drive you nuts when the kids couldn’t find a pencil to start their work? Label a tub at the front of the room SPARE PENCILS and fill it with all the leftover pencils you probably have hanging around. Are you always hunting for students’ work after school and can never find all the bits and pieces you need? Designate and label spots in your room where you want things to go and then teach the kids to put them there at the end of the lesson or the end of the day. What else could you easily set up before the kids start term 1?

Little changes can make a huge difference to how you feel at the end of a teaching day. Teaching is tiring enough without feeling disorganised. Take the time to get properly set up at this time of year and reap the rewards all year long.