Overcoming Worries About the Beginning of the Year

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This post is mostly a reminder to myself, but if you are an educator like me you might appreciate this message as well.

It’s that time of summer when “Back to School” ads seem to start popping up almost everywhere.  When I was a teacher this signaled the time when I started thinking more heavily about the upcoming year, dreaming about the classroom I would create, the students I would have, and reflecting on what I would do differently.

I would start making lists.

Lists for classroom decorations like nametags, posters and bulletin boards.

Lists for activities I wanted to plan the first week.

Lists for copies I needed to make and fancy things I wanted to laminate.

Lists for days I would do the things on said prior lists.

You needed a list for something?  I had a post-it or notebook page for that.

My routine almost always went this way:  The first day I would come in for only a half-day and ease myself back into the classroom.  Take the lay of the land.  Plan out placement of the new shiny things I wanted to put up.  Laminate 1-2 said shiny things.  Maybe open up a few boxes.  Catch up with friends I hadn’t seen all summer. I was in around 10 and out by 2 at the latest.  As the days progressed I would start to spend more time and by the day before school, I was always ready.

The problem was I spent a good portion of those weeks anxious.  Even though I had made plans upon plans and lists upon lists, I was worried.  Worried that it wouldn’t all get done.  That I wouldn’t be ready when the first day started.  So, instead of enjoying my time when I was not working in my classroom, I spent the time with family and friends feeling anxious and crabby and worried that it wouldn’t all get done.

My husband would tell me every year, “Don’t worry, you’ll get it done.  You always do.  You’ll be great.”  And guess what?  I did.  I always got it done.  And the things that I didn’t, it didn’t matter, I did them later.  Or better yet, had the kids do them.

So I promised myself that I would stop worrying and remind myself at the start of every year how I always got everything done and as the years progressed things got gradually better.  (I can’t say they totally stopped.  I am naturally a little neurotic.)

New Role, New Worries

This year I will be a principal for the first time at Jefferson Elementary School in Elmhurst, IL.  I have spent the past two weeks meeting with many of my staff, and each time I meet with a new person I get even more excited to be a part of the school.

Even though I have had all of these incredibly positive and energizing meetings & ideas, school officially starts in two weeks.  Once again, feelings of doubt and worry are creeping into my mind and dominating my thoughts.

Will I be enough?

How can there possibly be enough time to get everything done?

How am I not going to fail miserably and let everyone down?

I care.  Deeply about this work.  When I first got into education I remember telling someone that if they offered me a million dollars to stop I wouldn’t take it and I still stand by that today.  

Becoming a principal is an incredible honor and just like my teachers, I want to make sure I am fully prepared to start the year.  There are relationships to build (the best part), schedules, routines & processes to create (or just understand), class lists to double-check, a collaborative vision to be built, plans to be made, emails upon emails and meetings upon meetings.  I want so deeply to be the leader that the students, staff, and families are proud to have.  At times it can feel a bit insurmountable.

So even though I am trying hard not to, I have honestly spent a lot of time in that familiar place of anxiousness and worry.

When this starts to happen I have been going back to the words of my husband reminding myself of all the times I have overcome something that I once thought was impossible, like getting my doctorate or becoming a mother.  I assure myself that I have all of the talents and skills to do this well.  I wouldn’t have been given this job if many others didn’t see my work and believe in me as well.  I focus on the joy instead of the fears of what I am about to do.

Many times I think of the quote below that was posted by Linnea, a dear friend of mine, several years back on my Facebook wall.  I’m not even sure she knows of the impact it has had on me.  I love how it uses personification to change the concept of worry from an intangible, uncontrollable thing to something I can choose to let into my mind or not.

joy pic

So as a final reminder to myself (and anyone else in full-on school panic mode)…

You will get all the things done.

You always have.

You are more than enough.

I believe in you.

Whether you choose to worry about it all is up to you. 🙂

3 comments on “Overcoming Worries About the Beginning of the Year”

  1. Yes! I can totally relate to this. While my worrying as improved over time (this will be my 20th year), it will never completely disappear. While this will be only my third year at Jefferson, I feel like I have been part of the Jefferson community much longer. From reading all of your posts, I am confident that “You’ve got this!” You know what teachers need, and that building relationships is key. In my opinion, these are the two most important things a leader needs to know to be successful. I am excited to start a new year with you and the rest of the Jefferson staff!

    1. Hi Carmela,

      Thank you SO much for your positive feedback! It means so much to me and has really calmed many fears added to my excitement to being principal at Jefferson! I can’t wait to learn from you this year as we get to know each other better! Christina

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