First-Year Teacher: Survivor Edition

First-year teacher. noun. A title given to teachers who are brand new and just figuring out how on earth to do this teaching thing. See also: Ms. Christenson.

pug in blanket.jpg

My kind of survival.


So this great thing happened last week.

It’s called spring break.

I KNOW. Even though I’m not in college, I still get spring break. These are the perks of being a teacher, y’all. Because after working for all of 3 weeks, I was exhausted and more desperate for a break than the kids.

Why was I so excited about spring break, you ask? Allow me to list the reasons.

  • Having a teacher work day so I could do important things like: Have time to get iced chai before arriving at work. Update bulletin boards. Organize files. Plan stuff. Regain sense of order.
  • Getting to NOT be a teacher. For an entire 9 days. Thus gaining back 95% of my brain space.
  • Flying to DC!!! Seeing the boyfriend!!!
  • Walking through museums and getting to take my own sweet time and NOT being the person who’s shushing/rangling/managing all the kids on all the tours
  • Eating lunch OUTSIDE for an HOUR with the boyfriend (not for twenty minutes in the staff lunch room, nice as the other teachers are)
  • Wearing leggings! And jeans! And Converse! On days that aren’t Friday!
  • Being awake enough in the evenings to do things like host parties! Go to concerts! Run through the National Mall! Go to restaurants just for dessert at 10:00! Watch an entire movie! Eat birthday dinners until 11:00 pm!
  • Celebrating my sister’s birthday with donuts and cheesecake and concerts with my family
  • Having brunch with the whole clan (how often does that happen?) and thrifting with people who do things like try on/accidentally split acid-washed jean shorts at the seams

What loveliness.

But then Sunday came. Boo. I hit what Teach of Love, Teach blog fame calls The Sunday Afternoon Megasad Life Hole.

I had already had slumps toward sadness in moments of the weekend. I had cried before getting on the plane. (I always do.) I had flown home to snow and an empty apartment. I had one afternoon of desolate napping and Internet surfing. And that was before everyone left.

Once Sunday afternoon quieted, I was stuck to the couch, feeling alone and hopeless and full of dread about returning to school. No matter that I had just returned from a wonderful trip to DC to then spend the weekend having fun with my family.

This is the suckiest feeling. I want to enjoy teaching! I want to be excited about seeing my students! I want to think “Yay! I get to talk about a subject I love today!” But on Sunday afternoon, my thoughts were more of the following gloomy variety: I think I’m bad at this. We’re going to have to start from square one with behavior management, aren’t we? How am I qualified for this again? Do I really need a job?

And then I read this post where I discovered this phenomenon had a name. I realized that I am not the only one who gets weary just thinking about Monday morning. It does not make me a bad teacher. And there is something I can do about it. Other than pray for miracles. Though that never hurts.

Here’s my own list of amazingly awesome mood boosters, for Megasad Sundays or Mopey Mondays or Terrible Tuesdays or whatever day of the week I need a reminder that my life is going to be okay.

  • Go for a walk. Or a run, if feeling ambitious.
  • Read an actual book
  • Do a quick yoga routine.
  • Clean the apartment using Mrs. Meyers peony cleaning spray while listening to One Direction.
  • Flip through old vacation photos.
  • Call someone near and dear.
  • Journal
  • Read a favorite Psalm
  • Bake chocolate chip cookies.
  • Try making a new recipe.
  • Do an easy craft. (Redo the chalkboard? Paint some polka dots? Letter something? Pull out the coloring book?)
  • Watch a favorite chick flick
  • Write a letter
  • Meal or outfit plan for the week. (Am I the only weirdo who finds joy in “jammin’ on my planner,” as Leslie Knope calls it?)
  • Go to the library and camp out with a few magazines.
  • Play the Ellie Holcomb Pandora station
  • Make plans to get coffee with someone.
  • Draft a blog post.
  • Paint my nails with something sparkly.
  • Watch Parks and Rec.
  • Wander through the Art Institute, the Conservatory, or another favorite free place
  • Find the “Bang Bang” Just Dance video on YouTube. Dance to it.
  • Take a 20-minute nap
  • Make hot chocolate
  • Browse the Pinterest board of my favorite things

Oh, and the biggest one of all: quit overanalyzing and assuming the worst. Because even if you have a Megasad Sunday, it doesn’t mean that you will have a Megasad Week. (Case in point: this week has been surprisingly not sucky, even after all that angst.)

Here’s to more intentionality and joy, to fewer Megasad Sundays and clouds of dread.


Anything I missed? What are your favorite get-happy activities?


7 thoughts on “First-Year Teacher: Survivor Edition

  1. Amen and amen. And great post by Teach – I hadn’t read that one! Thanks for sharing! Being outside is a big mood lifter for me right now, especially coming off winter. I went to Como today (as a shushing, wrangling teacher), and it was refreshing to see the sun and be around plants and animals. You’re on top of life, as per usual, with that very extensive list!

    • I totally agree with you about being outside – it’s amazing how much it helps! And, about this list…definitely a procrastination method while I should have been prepping lessons…hence its length 😉

  2. Hey Anna, great list of things to do. 🙂 I recently wrote a list for myself, too. I noted things like painting, buying flowers, reading good blogs or watching useful youtube content, reading my books, baking something, calling someone, going for a walk, drinking tea, brainstorming ideas, curling my hair, planing an event. 🙂 All the best for your teaching experiences. Greetings from Germany and blessed Easter!

  3. Pingback: First-Year Teacher: Survivor Edition | Essays. Articles. Et Cetera...

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