Yet Another Back-to-School Post
Back-to-school season is the time of year when teacher emotions run from a manic mania to depressed despair… and that’s just in the course of one Facebook post. Emotions this time of year run the gambit for everyone. Social media, the news, entertainment, and, yes, even this blog reflect that reality. Parents are relieved yet protective. Students are excited but nervous. And teachers are ready to change the world for the better while also dreading the loss of their fleeting freedom. This will be “THE” year. Everything is going to go as each of us has envisioned, hoped, and dreamed over the course of surreal summer.
Don’t worry, September will swiftly put an end to the delusions. It always does. For additional research, please see “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day. But in the meantime, let’s at least humor these sincere emotions of optimism and goals for revolutionizing the entire world in a single year. High goals inevitably lead to better results, but we must remember that we always fall short of perfection because, duh, we are not perfect. We are human. As a result, sometimes it is also a good idea to focus on finding a way to relieve that inevitable tension. A little catharsis, if you well.
Ah, Catharsis… Cha, Cha, Cha
And thus, thematically, why you are subjected to the whims of this post. As an educator, I too feel the annual range of emotions. I am simultaneously excited for all that a new year has to bring but am also dreading the associated stress and pressure. I’ve already experienced that recurring back-to-school nightmare that every teacher has every year. I am torn between going in on a summer day to prepare my classroom in the calm before the storm or enjoying one last day of summer vacation. Even if out-of-sight means out-of-mind for you there is still a nagging feeling somewhere deep in your subconscious that you aren’t going to be ready for the school year. News flash, none of us ever are ready. The tsunami that is the inevitable perfect storm of September hits us all equally hard.
The good news is that we are in this together. So take a breath, relax, refocus, and re-center yourself. I’m not exactly saying that you should find your “Chi” (sorry, just watched Kung Fu Panda 3), but find what speaks to your soul and keeps you grounded. Allow yourself to let out the emotion and release the tension (however you do that). For me, well, that means subjecting you all to the whims of my writing and my corny sense of humor. For everyone else though, I imagine this can mean friends, family, a good book, sports, a favorite hobby, etc. And, most importantly, forgive yourself for not getting that one last thing done. For me it was the bulletin boards. I finally starting putting “under construction” complete with construction signs at the center of mine (explaining to students that we’d build the classroom together over time).
I also tend to agree with the adage that laughter is the best medicine. I keep a bookmark with the following quote: “Sometimes the only sense of life that you can make is a sense of humor.” This speaks to me. And in today’s increasingly crazy and often divided world, I think this is true. What helps us laugh together, brings us together. And, ultimately, helps us to purge some of those pent up emotional stresses as we seek to make the world a better place.
The Science of Catharsis
Without dumping a bunch of medical jargon, there is plenty of research to show the importance of laughter and just reducing stress in general. Since I normally tie in the Next Generation Science Standards whenever I can, I need to at least make a reference in passing. Just humor me. “MS-LS1-8” is probably the closest we’ll get to a matching NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea here, but the idea definitely plays into studying neurotransmitter’s roles such as Serotonin. MS-LS1-8: “Gather and Synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories”. So, see, there’s even science in the midst of back-to-school blues and euphoria.
A Spoonful of… Cathartic Humor?
Mary Poppins liked to say that a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. Well, what is life but a strong medicinal dose of reality? And laughter when added to reality at least makes it easier to swallow the stresses of everyday life. Laughter also helps to us to reset and keep a healthy perspective
Oh, and that personal catharsis that I told you about. The reason I was all over the place with topics for this post initially and then settled on something a little more cathartic. Well, as a 6th grade teacher at heart (you have to think like a 12-year old in order to be one step ahead of 30 6th graders), I greatly amused myself when double checking the spelling of cathartic. You see, spelling is definitely a weak area for me. So, as I am wont to do, I’ll rely on a search engine if it’s handy. Definitions come this way as well and are sometimes helpful in order to clarify meaning.
Let’s just say that there are many ways to relieve tension and the emotional stress of summer while experiencing some catharsis. Some that one would expect like music and art, and some that one would not. I know the loss of summer bathroom freedom due to limited bathroom breaks for classroom teachers is no laughing matter (urinary tract infections are ironically the #2 health issue that teachers face) but please allow for the occasional dose of healthy humor without casting “judgment from the throne” so to speak as you read the #2 definition below…
“Cathartic” Picture and Definition Courtesy of Dictionary.com
1. of or relating to catharsis.
2. Also, cathartical. evacuating the bowels; purgative.
3. a purgative.”
Best Back to School Ever
So, I wish you a healthy dose of laughter to help you swallow the entirety of your back-to-school reality with grace. I wish you the best start to your school year ever and that you may “be the change that you wish to see in the world”. And I wish you enough cathartic moments to see you through along the way. I wish all of this while, hopefully, capturing some serenity amidst the beautiful chaos that is changing lives and thus the world… through teaching!
Ten Cathartic Links and Thoughts
Perhaps just cathartic for me, but here’s last year’s post: http://corelaboratewa.org/obligatory-back-to-school-science-blog-post/
Use Bitmoji to amuse yourself while annoying your colleagues (and blog readers): https://www.bitmoji.com
That time: my principal mistook a particular emoji for a smiling brown mountain and texted it to me.
Use Blabberize to have fun with colleagues (also a good way to engage students): http://blabberize.com
Read Shel Silverstein’s Homework Machine Poem (or any of his poems for that matter): http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-homework-machine/
That time: I meant to text my wife “I love you” but unfortunately the last person I had texted was my boss.
Read up on strategies for easing back in: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teachers-five-ways-ease-back-school-elena-aguilar
Simply lose yourself in funny Google search results: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=back+to+school+humor+for+teachers&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
Consider buying this mug because it says what we all feel at times on the inside: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DSCJFI4/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_3?pf_rd_p=1944687682&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B00SUHZRLW&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=H0JHAXE2G16E5QZ590P9
That time: I wrote an article featured around the primary definition of a word, only to realize that the medical definition of that same word was not school appropriate…