Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bracing for impact (...or how I prepare myself for the first day of school)

So Tuesday is the day.  Officially I went back to school on Thursday, but since we had Friday and then Monday off, I mentally thought of it as a "meeting" I had to go to before finishing up my summer vacation.  Perception is reality, right?

My sister-in-law gets really depressed about going back to work at the end of the summer.  I get a few days of the blues mid-August, but by the time the actual day comes around I'm really ok with it.  

Let me elaborate...

I finish teaching summer camp at the end of the first week of August.  The second week of August is usually pretty relaxed for me - so naturally I start thinking about how the summer is almost over, which gets me thinking of all that needs to get done.  

I think of how my office is a disaster zone.  My file cabinets are left emptied because I was in the middle of reorganizing them.  I need to get my syllabus set for each class I'm teaching, organize my private lesson schedule, pick some music for the first concert and put in bowings and fingerings.  I want to rethink how I'm teaching the first-year string class because I took a class this summer and did a research project that dealt with first-year string instruction and now I have some new ideas.  I want to get my schedule in my planner before school starts - while I still have time.  I'm thinking of taking my kids to the BSO to hear Yo-Yo Ma perform at an open rehearsal so I need to organize that.  Oh yeah, I'm also starting my second grad school class.  On the first day of school.  

All of this runs through my head.  I love my job, but it's a marathon.  I hit the ground running, and around Thanksgiving the pedal gets pushed to the floor, and it pretty much stays that way until the last day of school when I'm frantically grading finals. 

It makes me feel a little like this.

I know I'm lucky, and honestly, I'm one of the only people I know who really loves my job - but it's different than other jobs.  You're on.  Like, all day.  For those of you who are not teachers, picture yourself giving a presentation at work.  A six hour presentation.  Every day.  From September to June.    

So I have this week of panic and I react in typical Kate fashion.  I stress internally but take the week for myself.  Reading.  Walks.  Days out with Gram.  I got a pedicure.  Pretty much denial.

Fast forward to the third and fourth weeks of August.  I start doing things that mentally and physically prepare me to go back.  

I have a fall playlist.  I realize this is dorky.  For me, music usually gets associated with seasons or times in my life.  So, I have this playlist of music that just screams "fall" to me.  There's lots of 90's rock, some Counting Crows (both the "Hard Candy" and the "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" albums, both of which I got in the fall), lots of stuff that I listened to in high school.  I start playing this in the car and at home when I'm getting ready to head out for the day, cleaning, whatever.  It gets me in the "fall" frame of mind.

I organize.  My house.  My car.  My office.  My schedule.  I organize my life the way some people get batten down the hatches before a blizzard or hurricane.  

I literally sat on the porch with my laptop and a glass of iced tea and blocked off all my classes for the school year in my calendar.  It synchs to my iPad and now I can look up any day until June and see where I'm supposed to be and when.  It makes me feel like I've got all my ducks in a row.

I set-up as much as possible that I will need later in the year.  I've made all the packets I will be using with my guitar class this term.  I've set-up my "participation" grade for every class, every Friday of the school year in our online rank book.  Because I know if I don't, I'll let it slide because I simply won't have the time.  

I clean the house like crazy.  We're ready to go.  I'm going to come home from work and the island isn't covered in clutter.  My dresser is clear.  

I know it sounds crazy, but I've been doing these things for the past 9(!!!) years.  It makes me ready to go back.  ...and by the time the first day comes, I'm legit excited to be back into my routine and seeing the kids and my colleagues.  

I'm ready to go...

What do you do to prepare for new beginnings?  When you're about to start something stressful, do you prepare yourself in a particular way?   

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