The Back-to-School Survival Guide

Early August: teachers dread its arrival while parents anticipate it like kids waiting for Christmas.

The beginning of the school year is a cause for much trepidation for both educators and students alike.

If you are a teacher like me, you’re feeling butterflies and a wee bit of anxiety about beginning a new year.

My school skills are a bit rusty. Assuming you are in the same boat, I have put together a list of refreshers and recommendations that will help you begin the school year with ease.

Educators, both novice and veteran, lend me your ears: here follows the Back-to-School Survival Guide.

What should I wear?

The first day of school is all about first impressions, and you want to make sure you establish yourself as the commander and protector of the class. One of the first ways you do this is through your outfit. Keep the following facts in mind:

FACT: Your students will be dressed to the nines.

FACT: Your students will expect the same of you.

FACT- Should you make the wrong decision in outfit, your students will make fun of you.

Bearing these facts in mind, here are MY recommendations:

  • Yes, your five inch heels are cute for 10 minutes. Will they be cute for 10 hours?
  • Wearing white? Proceed with caution. School is a jungle, and staining liquids lie in wait to attack your unsullied clothes.
  • Make sure your delicates are not visible through your white britches.
  • Googling “Cute Teacher Outfits” never hurt anybody.
  • Corporate business attire and teacher business attire are not the same thing.
  • If there is something you don’t like about your outfit, be it a minor discomfort or hesitation about any particular article of the ensemble, take off the outfit. The minor thing will turn into something you cannot stop thinking about. It will evolve into a major annoyance by the end of the day.
  • I’m all for quality clothing, but bear in mind: all clothes are susceptible to pen and expo marker marks. Expensive clothes will get messed up. A shirt from Target can be replaced quite easily: a shirt from Versace Gucci’s Secret cannot.
  • Something you can get to the bathroom quickly in.
    • Wearing a dress is smart: you can hike that sucker up.
    • Wearing pants? Make sure you go with the elastic waistband.
What is some personal information I can give without being interesting?

Believe me when I say you DO NOT want to seem interesting to the chirren. Interest provokes questions.

Questions provoke inquiry.

Inquiry provokes having to shoot down 157 friend requests on Facebook.

Here are some safe bets:

  • You last name
  • Your pets
  • Your favorite color
  • Celebrities you have met in your lifetime

This section is short because, honestly, personal information is hallowed ground in education.

What should I eat?

Eating during the course of your day can be tough to navigate, so here are my suggestions for your perfect “work meal:”

  • Avoid the unpredictable.
    • The first day of school is NOT the day to try new foods.
  • Nothing spicy
  • Nothing that has the remote potential to cause diarrhea
  • Just say no to the mayors of Stain City: Ketchup and Wings
  • The Vomit diet, aka BRAT: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast
  • Go easy on the liquids. Your body has not yet adapted to a school year urination schedule.
  • Probably good to round out your diet with a healthy portion of Pepto Bismol and Immodium

Look, the stress of the first day is overwhelming. I care for my readers, so I did the heavy lifting for you. Here is a checklist for your first day of school:

  • Deodorant: the first casualty when the FDFO (first day freak out) occurs
  • Admin Shoes (i.e. the “professional” shoes you should be wearing)
  • Comfy Shoes (i.e. the ones your feet will thank you for at the end of the day)
  • Immodium
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Alarm #1
  • Alarm #2
  • Alarm #3
  • Alarm #4-10 (Better to drive your house co-inhabitants insane than to oversleep on the first day)
  • A ready-to-go, plausible excuse for profusive sweating
  • One really good story from the summer, adequately embellished
  • Extensive amounts of coffee
Biggest Questions You’ll Be Asked
  • Can we eat in here?
    • Pro- A fed student is a happy student.
    • Con- A fed ant is a happy ant who invites all his friends.
  • Miz/ Mista (Insert name here), I can sit wherever I want?
  • We gonna do anything today?
  • How old are you?
  • You married? Well, you got a boyfriend? Why not? *said in aggressive tones*
    • (expect a full dissection of this question in a later post entitled, “Relationships and Dating, According to my High School Students”)
Worthwhile Investments
  • Dry shampoo
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Extra strength deodorant
    • Do not stop at one stick – opt for the two stick value pack
  • Wax melts, Febreeze spray, holy water- 6th period students have a whole new kind of funk
Hardknock Lessons

The following are lessons that some people I know had to learn the hard way. Not me, of course, but I have heard that these are true.

  • Never tell a student you still live with your parents.
  • Always watch the videos you’ll show in class before showing them.
  • Check your zipper upon leaving the restroom.
  • Never turn your back on your students.
  • Put all Christmas lights far from students. Some students enjoy sticking pencils into the sockets.
  • Steer clear of the compulsion to have a Monday-T-W-TR-F outfit. Yes, wearing the same things every day throughout the year is easier, but students will notice and hold you accountable.
  • Thinking of putting a 1 cup coffee maker in your room? Good idea! Just make sure the cup is under the maker before starting it.

Go forth and prosper, teachers. Have a great year!


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