Where to Start?

My anxiety shows up the minute I start to put myself back in school mode.


I am overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done in the few days I have before everyone else demands my time and attention.  I have grandiose ideas from my summer of reading and reflecting, and I want to implement them all now.  Right now.


A hint of guilt and regret creeps in as I am ashamed I haven’t done more this summer to prepare and avoid this feeling.  But that is quickly swept away with memories of chasing the cutest toddler ever.  We filled our days with swim lessons, music classes, story times, park play dates, zoo trips.  It’s much easier to forgive this guilt now than it was five years ago.


Right now, though, I can’t even make a list.  I have no idea what list to make.  Lesson plans to create, classroom to organize, new grading practices to adapt, new curriculum to review, copies to run, websites to set up, letters to write, syllabus to update.  Where do I even start? Writing this down seems like a good place.


This feeling is all too familiar.  I can almost predict it.  Every year.  You’d think I’d learn by now how to get it together before August.  The most reassuring thing is that I have been there before and survived, prevailed even.


Until I make the decision of where to start, I can always go back to school shopping.  Hey, that counts, right?


Nikki Smith is an English teacher at Urbandale High School.  Like all English teachers, she has a passion for reading, writing, and kids.  She serves as secretary for the ICTE Executive Board.  Much of her recent professional research has been around best grading practices.