How to Manage The Back to School Jitters


Back to school jitters aren’t just for kids! Art Teachers definitely get them, too!

Between the classroom and supply prep and the demands of back to school responsibilities, the fear for the year begins…

This year, I feel a little more at ease. There are some ways I’ve found to help minimize the power my worries have over me.

Hopefully, sharing them here will help you, too.


  1. Adopt a positive mantra. Here’s mine: “I am calm, capable and creative” Then I take a deep breath and turn on the chill station.
  2. Tackle a little each day. A little quiet time in the classroom scheduled around PD helps. See if you can get in to your classroom on a low-teacher-traffic day, so your time is efficiently spent in your room without feeling guilty for not finding out about your coworkers’ summer!
  3. Be realistic. You are a visionary, but that doesn’t mean your classroom has to live up to a (possibly unattainable) vision.
  4. Give yourself some credit. Instead of looking at your list of haven’t- done-yets, congratulate yourself on what you’ve finished so far.
  5. Prioritize. What will my students NEED the very first day. What is the most important or most impactful thing? Throw yourself into that task, and leave the rest for the time you have leftover. For me, it’s having routines and expectations in place.
  6. Let go of perceived expectations. I am really bad at this! I’m constantly thinking that my colleagues will expect something to ‘look better’, or expect me to post displays that have more creativity or neatness. But, no one really expects that of me- because pretty much everyone is too worried that their own work looks good! So, unless an administrator has given me a directive to fix or change something, I assume that everyone only expects my best, and that my best is good enough!
  7. Have a Plan Z. You don’t have to worry if you have a foolproof plan when all else fails. For me, if a class’ behavior has completely gone to crap- it’s everyone puts heads down, I grab pencils and lined paper and have them copy the definitions of the Elements. Word for word. “We can learn art the FUN way, or this BORING way. It’s your choice.” If my lesson has just completely bombed- I am honest with the class and I tell them it’s not working, and that we are going to put it aside until we can clear our minds to come up with a solution, and then we do something fun-like blind drawing where they draw something simple, but can’t look at their paper.
  8. Follow the 80/20 Rule. This is my interpretation of the 80/20 rule: Many things need 80% of my effort. Some things only need 20% of my effort. Nothing requires 100% of my effort 100% of the time. I’d never have any energy left to give! For instance: Lesson Plans/Projects are worth 80% of my effort, in my opinion. Those are the visible things, the things my principal sees, the things my students do. Things only worth 20% of my effort are early finisher tasks and extra responsibilities. And NO ONE will notice if I don’t get all my summer stuff unpacked by the first day… especially if I discreetly shove it under my desk 😉