9 things teachers hate about going back to school

Super shiny shoes and super long blazers

We all remember that feeling, as kids, as we squeezed out the very last drops of the summer holidays. Those final few days right at the beginning of September were almost desperate, trying to blend trips to shops for uniform, name tagging alongside experiencing the final moments of freedom.

Remember the first day back, standing in front of the mirror in the ever-so-slightly-bigger-than-it-really-should-be-blazer and super shiny shoes? The world suddenly seemed full of possibilities. This year was always going to be different. As a teacher the feelings are not so different (except I’ve stopped wearing the blazer!)

Forget the fear


Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Squeeze out every drop of summer as term approaches

But if you are waiting for the start of the academic year then the imminent approach of the first day can seem quite daunting. Even as an experienced teacher the thought of the first few days can send you scuttling for the hills. My antidote was to make jam. Don’t ask me why. It just seemed to be meditative, vaguely creative and a chance to forget the fear for a moment!

Photo by Josefa NDiaz on Unsplash

Teaching is such an all-consuming profession.

It can be incredibly exciting and it really is a privilege to be working with young minds. They are so surprising! Yes, it’s a cliché but anyone who has left teaching will know what a loss it is not to be surrounded by the fun, excitement, passion and emotion that youngsters bring to everything.

Saying that, there are some highly practical considerations when you first start back in the classroom. I always felt the summer holidays had robbed me of my vocabulary. I would be half way through a sentence and be in a panic as I searched for the right word or concept. It takes a good week to become the articulate teacher that left the building back in July. 

So here are 9 things to consider regarding the first days of a new school year

1. Getting up early and actually being dressed and presentable is always a challenge. Summer holidays bring such bad habits. The notion of wearing ‘real clothes’ is somewhat constrictive and feels like being put back on a lead. A practice run may not be a bad idea!

2. Wearing shoes is another shock. I usually spent my holidays in flip-flops or barefoot. Is it true your feet do expand? Certainly they used to howl as I put on my 4 inch ‘don’t mess with me’ heels.

3. Toilet breaks. Hmnn. It really is a case of ‘retrain your bladder’ in the first few days of term. Why are loos always at the other end of the building?

4. Being prepared to sit still and attend meetings is a total contrast to the month of August and really is quite a culture shock. I think staff meetings should be held by webinar. I’d feel better with a cup of hot chocolate sitting on the sofa in a onesie wouldn’t you?

5. Looking after your voice is something almost no one does in teaching. Preparation before the big day is not a bad thing. You may find that in the first weeks you will have a sore throat and dryness. No one speaks in every day exchanges at the volume teachers use. Think about it. If you are saying ‘stop running in the corridor’ the number of decibels is much higher than a normal conversation. Take care; voices are precious.

6. Learning to wait for food is another trial in the first days. For most of us holidays meant late breakfasts, leisurely elevensies and lunch whenever we felt like it. Getting up at stupid o’clock can mean the stomach thinks the throat has been cut. Be prepared for rumbling tums that of course can be very embarrassing after you’ve just managed to get the class silent for a moment.

7. Carrying a pencil case is another sure sign you are back in harness. Make sure you’ve cleaned  out the contents before starting to carry it around for another year! Pencil shaving really don’t have any scrap or antique value; honestly, you can get rid of them without fear.

8. Getting used to being on call and in demand from the moment you enter the school until you leave is a fact of life. Being all things to all comers is another skill that has to be relearned. You will get home and not wish to speak to a single soul for years after a hard day.

9. But remember too that when you return to the same school for the second September you will be pleased to see colleagues and students alike. A career in teaching can be the beginning of life long friendships that are forged in fire and cooled in love and respect.

What advice do you have for someone in their first weeks of teaching? 

What’s the thing that gets to you most when you return to school? Do share your experiences.

If you are thinking of teaching mathematics and want to train as a teacher then look at the possibility of applying for a Maths Scholars scholarship award to help you.