Overcoming First Day Jitters: Embracing New Beginnings

Summer is winding down.  School supplies are prominently displayed in the front isles at the store and educators are beginning to shift their mindset from Summer to Fall.  Social media memes showcase educators ugly crying over an oversized glass of red wine, or a Game of Thrones character remarking that instead of winter, the school year is coming. As the new school year approaches, many of us are filled with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. I am usually cleaning the last closet, or stocking up on canned goods and freezer meals, as if I will have no time to complete any tasks or home projects while I am working.  I couldn’t possibly clean out a closet during the school year. All kidding aside, going back to work after leisurely mornings drinking coffee on the patio, can produce a bit of angst. Routines will change, as will the weather, and we will all be adjusting to a new normal.  

I am reminded of a picture book that many educators use during the first days of school. 

The text is called First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.  The book paints an all too familiar picture of the first day of school.  Mr. Hartwell comes in to encourage Sarah Jane. She is hiding under her covers feeling anxious about the first day of school. She doesn’t know anyone and nobody knows her.  The first day of school will be awful, and Sarah Jane just knows it. After much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, she drags herself out of bed, reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school.  In the story Mrs. Burton, the school principal, helps smooth her jittery beginning of the year. This familiar experience is easily relatable, however, in the end it is revealed that Sarah Jane Hartwell is the teacher!

The first day of anything new can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. Whether it’s the first day of school, a new job, or starting a new chapter in life, those “first day jitters” are something almost everyone can relate to. It’s that mixture of anticipation and anxiety that bubbles up inside you as you step into the unknown. But fear not, for with the right mindset and a few strategies, you can overcome those first day jitters and set yourself up for a successful beginning.

First day jitters are a natural part of life’s transitions, but they don’t have to hold you back. Embrace the unknown, prepare diligently, engage in positive self-talk, connect with others, and use relaxation techniques to help calm your nerves. Remember that everyone experiences first day jitters, and they often lead to some of life’s most memorable and rewarding experiences. So, step forward with confidence and embrace the excitement of new beginnings.

Here are a few suggestions to help you with the back to school Jitters.

1. Acknowledge Your Jitters

Everyone can relate to that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach right before embarking on a new experience.  It is perfectly normal to feel a few jitters. What this text allows us to do is to share the normalcy of first day jitters and to relate on a personal level with our students (and colleagues). 

Just like the text suggests, students and educators can feel anxious about going back to school.  Share your jitters with your students. If it is okay for you to be a little nervous, they will feel okay about being nervous too. You could even read the story to the students and ask them if they can relate to Sarah Jane.  

2. Investigate the Source 

What is it explicitly that is making you nervous about going back to school? Was there something that didn’t go well in previous years?  Is it a colleague, a summer project left unfinished, the thought of waking up early? Whatever it is, understanding the source of your jitters can be helpful in moving forward and starting off the year on the right foot.  

3. Make a Plan

Having a plan can always calm nerves.  If you can zero in on exactly what makes you nervous about going back to school, then you can also create a plan to support yourself through the situation.  In Sarah Jane’s case, she was scared about not knowing anyone at the school. Dive into that class list, investigate those IEP’s and previous school records and make a plan about which students to shake hands with first and strategically place students in seating arrangements that support their success.

4. Remember Why You Love School

Think about all of the things you love about school.  Think about why you became an educator. Recall your favorite moments from over your years with students.  On the First Day, throw those covers off your head, march into that school with a spring in your step and meet your new year with an unbridled enthusiasm for the potential of the year ahead.  Remember, First Day Jitters are okay and perfectly normal for both students and teachers 😉

CLICK HERE to download a fun activity to host for your staff and give them the opportunity to talk about their First Day Jitters!

First Day Jitters: Strategies for a Confident Start

Embrace the Unknown: The unknown can be intimidating, but it’s also where growth and opportunity lie. Instead of dwelling on the uncertainty of the first day, try to embrace it. Remember that everyone around you has been the “new person” at some point in their lives. It’s a chance to reinvent yourself, make new friends, and learn new things.

  1. Preparation is Key: One way to alleviate first day jitters is through thorough preparation. Whether it’s researching your new workplace or reviewing your course syllabus, being well-prepared can boost your confidence. Make a checklist of what you need to do or bring on your first day, so you feel organized and in control.
  2. Positive Self-Talk: Your thoughts can have a profound impact on your emotions. Instead of focusing on negative “what if” scenarios, engage in positive self-talk. Remind yourself of your strengths and previous achievements. Tell yourself that you are capable of handling whatever comes your way.
  3. Reach Out and Connect: One effective way to overcome first day jitters is to connect with others. Strike up conversations with your new colleagues, classmates, or peers. Building connections early on can make you feel more comfortable in your new environment and potentially lead to valuable relationships.
  4. Take Deep Breaths: When anxiety sets in, take a moment to breathe deeply. Deep breathing can help calm your nerves and reduce stress. Try inhaling deeply for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, and then exhaling for a count of four. Repeat this as needed to regain composure.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations: Sometimes, first day jitters arise from setting overly high expectations for yourself. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and that learning and growth take time. Focus on progress rather than perfection.
  6. Visualize Success: Visualization is a powerful tool for boosting confidence. Close your eyes and imagine yourself succeeding on your first day. Picture yourself handling challenges with grace and confidence. This mental exercise can help turn your nerves into determination.

Unpacking the Meaning of First Day Jitters

First day jitters, often referred to as “butterflies in the stomach” or simply “nervousness,” are the emotions and sensations that many people experience when embarking on a new venture, be it the first day of school, starting a new job, entering into a new relationship, or facing a significant change in life. These feelings can range from mild apprehension to intense anxiety and manifest in various physical and emotional ways. While first day jitters are a common human experience, understanding their meaning and significance can help us navigate through them more effectively.

First day jitters are a universal human experience, and they carry meaningful insights into our desire for growth, acceptance, and success. It’s important to recognize that these feelings are normal and can be harnessed as a source of motivation and personal development. By acknowledging the meaning behind first day jitters, we can learn to navigate them more effectively, turning nervousness into excitement and embracing the opportunities that come with new beginnings.

First Day of School Jitters: Navigating the Path to a Successful Start

The first day of school is a monumental moment in every child’s life. It marks the beginning of a new academic year, a fresh start, and the promise of new friendships and knowledge. However, it’s also common for children to experience a mix of excitement and anxiety, which we often refer to as “first day of school jitters.” These jitters can be attributed to various factors, including the fear of the unknown, separation anxiety, and the pressure to meet new expectations. In this article, we will explore these feelings and offer strategies to help students overcome their first day of school jitters.

Fears and Worries on the First Day: Unpacking First Day Jitters

  • The Fear of the Unknown: At its core, first day jitters stem from the fear of the unknown. When we venture into uncharted territory, we often feel a sense of vulnerability and uncertainty. We may not know what to expect, who we will encounter, or how we will perform. These unknowns can trigger anxiety and self-doubt.
  • The Desire for Acceptance: First day jitters can also be linked to our innate desire for acceptance and belonging. We worry about how we will be perceived by others in this new environment. Will we fit in? Will we make friends or colleagues who appreciate us for who we are? These concerns can lead to nervousness.
  • Pressure to Succeed: In many situations, there is pressure to succeed on the first day. Whether it’s impressing a new boss, making a good impression on peers, or taking that first test, the expectations we place on ourselves can create anxiety. We want to start off on the right foot, and the fear of falling short can be overwhelming.
  • Fear of Making Mistakes: Mistakes are a natural part of the learning and growth process, but the fear of making mistakes can contribute to first day jitters. We may worry about embarrassment or failure, forgetting that making mistakes is a valuable way to learn and improve.
  • The Power of Change: First day jitters can also be seen as a reflection of the transformative power of change. New beginnings signify growth, learning, and progress. The discomfort associated with first day jitters can be a sign that you are stepping out of your comfort zone and into a space where personal development can occur.

Sarah Hayden
Instructional Coach, TEEN TRUTH

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