Embrace the New Year: How to Painlessly Transition Back to School

Ah, summer. While it isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the best part about teaching, it is definitely a bonus.

I don’t know what you’ve been doing all summer, but I’ve been enjoying myself.  I spent ten days visiting my family in Michigan, I’ve read about 15 books, I’ve spent more hours in the saddle than I can during the school year (although not as many as I usually do in the summer), read several PD books and blogs, worked on my blog, and done a lot of relaxing.  As usual, though, it’s gone by very quickly.

We teachers truly need these summer weeks to relax, recharge, and gear up for another year.  But, let’s face it, when Target puts out those Back to School displays, and you get those first few emails from your district about PD days and back to school events, something inside you dies a little.

The freedom you’ve been enjoying for a month or two, suddenly seems like it’s being ripped from your grasp.  You want to hang onto every little smidgen of time, but you also need to read all of those books you put off and plan for at least the first few days of school.  Let’s not even talk about the mess that is your classroom.

It’s easy at this time of year to mourn the end of summer, but what we really should do is embrace a new school year.  That is easier said than done, though.  My friend Amy and I came up with these five things to help make our transition back to school less painful.

transition back to school

How to Transition Back to School

Maintain your vacation mindset

I don’t mean you should wear your flip flops and Nike shorts to school (does anyone else live in workout clothes all summer? And  a messy bun? It’s just too hot here for anything else!), but you do need to keep that cool attitude you’ve had all summer.  While you’re at it, make a list of things to look forward to in the next few months.  The first month or two of school are stressful, but looking forward to little milestones or mini-vacations can make it easier to keep going.  We have labor day off, then we move into our new house at the end of October and head to the Bahamas right before Thanksgiving.  So while I am excited to go back to school (sort of), I also have some exciting events to look forward to, which helps.

Write down all the things you are better at during the summer

Do you meal plan really well in the summer? Do you go on one big grocery trip weekly or bi-weekly? Do you have a relaxing morning routine? Do you exercise consistently? Whatever it is, write it down.  What do you excel at in the summertime that you could carry over into the school year?  And how can you do that?    For example, I am much better at carving out chunks of time to be present with my family because I can get so much done during the day while my husband is at work.  During the school year, this is much more difficult; however, this year I am going to make it a priority to keep that going.


I don’t know about you, but this one is tough for me.  I get so. dang. tired. that the thought of getting on the treadmill or going to kickboxing is just too much.  So find a buddy or someone who will help you stay accountable and get your butt out there.  You’ll feel so much better.  Find a routine that works for you (and your family) so that it’s easier to stick with it.  This year I’ll be getting up two mornings a week for 30 minutes on the treadmill and going to the 4pm kickboxing class twice a week.  Fingers crossed.

Don’t schedule appointments (doctor, dentist, etc.) during the first month

The first few years of my career, I didn’t realize how bad the first month would be.  I just didn’t get it.  But dang, that first month is crazy, right?!  One simple way to make it easier? Don’t schedule any appointments in the first few weeks of school if you can help it (except maybe a massage!).   You’re going to be tired, you’re going to be busy, you’re going to be adjusting to the school routine, so don’t add the stress of having to get yourself (or your kids or pets or whomever) to an appointment at a certain time, when all you really want to do is go home and put your feet up.

Realize and accept that you are tired

While we’re talking about putting your feet up, give yourself permission to do just that.  Allow yourself the time to unwind however you enjoy most.  Having a glass (or two) of wine with friends, curling up on the couch with a good book, ordering pizza instead of making dinner, watching your favorite show.  Just do it.  I mean, not every day, but just enough to keep yourself from going crazy.  Teacher tired is a real thing, and it’s the worst during those first few weeks.  It’s okay if there’s a little more dust in your house than usual, let it go.  It’ll get done.  Later.


That’s it.  Those are doable right?

I hope that rather than mourn the death of summer, you will instead enjoy your remaining time and make the most of your transition back to school.

What do you do to make your transition less painful? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment and let me know your best back to school tips!

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