As you start planning for the school year, you might overlook how challenging emotions can affect students and teachers. When you want a smooth beginning of the year, you can start things off right by reducing back-to-school anxiety.
In This Article
- What Does Back-to-School Anxiety Look Like in Students?
- 3 Ways to Reduce Back-to-School Anxiety for Students
- What Does Back-to-School Anxiety Look Like in Teachers and Staff?
- How to Support Teachers and Faculty
- Implement Automation in Education to Reduce Back-to-School Anxiety
What Does Back-to-School Anxiety Look Like in Students?
Back-to-school can be a scary time for students of all ages. New teachers and classes leave many unknowns and uncertainties in their lives, increasing their stress and worries as the summer ends. When you know what back-to-school anxiety looks like, you can better reduce it for your students. Some signs and types of back-to-school anxiety include the following.
- Separation anxiety: This type of anxiety is more common in younger students who rely on their parents. Students might have trouble in the mornings before the bus comes or at school drop-offs, not wanting parents to leave. They may remain upset after drop-off at school, causing them to miss out on learning and distract other kids. Others could stay home or come in late after their parents work through the situation.
- Avoidance: For some students, their anxiety manifests in avoidance. This coping mechanism can mean many things, from disengagement in class to not asking for help to eating or playing alone.
- Difficulty making friends or interacting: Social anxiety is prevalent in students. Each year, students meet new classmates. Kids might transfer from a school where they had lots of friends to an environment where they don’t know anyone. Students might be afraid to talk to new people, play with others, or collaborate. Social anxiety can also leave students lonely as others start making friends and forming groups, making them feel more insecure and afraid.
- Frequent illnesses: Some students’ back-to-school anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms. Students might get so nervous they get stomachaches or lose sleep. They may ask their parents if they can stay home from school or get sent to the nurse’s office and leave early. This back-to-school anxiety can also impact their academic and social performance.
When your school understands students’ feelings about going back to school, you can implement proactive techniques, helping them before they arrive for the academic year for a safer, more sustainable learning environment.
3 Ways to Reduce Back-to-School Anxiety for Students
Schools can implement many strategies before the school year begins to help reduce back-to-school anxiety for their students. Many tactics can remain in place throughout the year, supporting their students past the first couple of weeks.
1. Open Your Campus Before Classes Begin
When students fear the unknown, your school can combat back-to-school anxiety by creating more opportunities for them to get to know your facilities and staff. Many schools offer open houses where students can explore campus, visit their classrooms and meet their teachers before the first day begins.
Your school can take this further by allowing students to walk through various processes. You can let students participate in drop-off and pickup, like getting off the bus or going through the drop-off line. They will know where to go after getting out of the car, creating less stress and problems on the first day. Some students might want to walk through the lunch line and practice using their payment method.
Letting students understand what the school and its policies are like helps them feel prepared for the first day. They will feel more confident and comfortable on the day of, ensuring they are ready to learn and approach the new academic year.
2. Encourage Regular Schedules and Communication
Students like consistency. When they know what to expect, they can better mentally prepare for their days and focus on schoolwork. Teachers and faculty can support the need for routine with different strategies.
- Posting daily and weekly agendas: Teachers can help students know what to expect in their classroom by sending or writing daily and weekly agendas for their classes. Weekly agendas might outline plans and post-predicted homework, allowing students to prepare themselves. Teachers can write lesson plans on the board, so students know what to expect for the day as soon as they arrive.
- Reminding students about changes: While a regular schedule is ideal, schools have many needs to manage and might have to break routines sometimes. From field trips to assemblies, breaks in routine can spark classroom and back-to-school anxiety for students. Encourage your teachers to remind classes regularly of changes through word of mouth, written notes, and emails. Reminding them about regular changes, like library visits, can help students better prepare for their week.
- Following routines for daily processes: Teachers and faculty can help students ease into the school year by establishing routines for common operations. For example, teachers might start the day the same way every time by taking attendance or asking students a thought-provoking discussion question. Faculty can simplify dismissal or lunchtime by creating processes they can repeat throughout the year.
When students’ expectations match their reality, they can feel more prepared for the school year and day. Communicating routines and changes show students you want them to feel comfortable at school, reducing back-to-school anxiety and fostering stronger relationships between schools and students.
3. Collaborate With Parents
Parents are excellent resources for minimizing back-to-school anxiety. While your school focuses on creating a comfortable on-campus environment, parents and families can help their students work through problems and improve from home. Working with parents creates a more comprehensive approach that helps students better overcome their back-to-school anxiety. Here are some strategies schools can implement to collaborate with parents.
- Sharing updates about student behavior: Parents will go the extra mile to help their students, but there is only so much they can do if they aren’t aware of what’s happening in the classroom. Consider sending daily or weekly progress reports for students struggling with back-to-school anxiety so parents remain in the loop and apply techniques from home. Teachers and faculty can share observations and concerns with parents through in-person meetings, calls, and emails.
- Alerting parents of routine changes: While communicating routine changes directly to students is impactful, you can further promote preparation and awareness by speaking with parents about changes. Parents can continue to remind students about changes at home, helping them work through any anxiety or questions from a safe space. Parents can also ensure they are ready for events — for example, they can give their children money for the book fair or pack a sack lunch for field trip day.
- Surveying parents about student needs and readiness: Parents know their kids best. They can identify fears and problems as they arise. More communication and collaboration with teachers and faculty can help your school handle and soothe back-to-school anxiety. At the beginning of the week or each day, you can ask parents to fill out a survey about how ready their student is for school. Parents can communicate what they have noticed at home, giving schools more time to accommodate students with back-to-school and general anxiety.
When you can address back-to-school anxiety on both fronts, students can receive more care and start to get more excited about school. Parents will appreciate your school’s effort to help their children, creating stronger relationships between families and faculty.
What Does Back-to-School Anxiety Look Like in Teachers and Staff?
Teachers and faculty have many responsibilities to manage each year, making it easy for your school staff to get overwhelmed before the school year begins. Teachers must organize their classes, decorate classrooms, learn student names, and plan individual lessons and activities. Faculty are responsible for managing file systems, processes, and events.
Impostor syndrome is another severe mental block that impacts working professionals across industries. This condition makes people believe they are unqualified for their position and that everyone else around them is doing much better. They might feel their co-workers and colleagues are more experienced or accomplished in their professional lives. Impostor syndrome can make teachers more apprehensive about the back-to-school period.
As back-to-school time approaches, schools can provide their teachers and staff with systemic support, helping relieve the burden educational professionals might feel.
How to Support Teachers and Faculty
Like students, your school’s actions can provide teachers and staff with the essential resources and support they need to manage the beginning of the year. More supported and prepared teachers can handle going back to school professionally and efficiently for a smooth process that impresses parents and administration.
1. Establish Communication Methods
At the beginning of the school year, you might implement new policies, procedures, classrooms, or equipment that teachers and staff need to adjust to. Your school can support your faculty as they learn by setting up quality and comprehensive internal communication systems. Here are some essential communication methods to ease teachers and faculty into the school year.
- Meet and greets: Many teachers start new jobs or transfer to different schools yearly. You can reduce their stress and anxiety by creating communication with introductions. For an hour, they can put their other responsibilities on the back burner and spend time connecting with other teachers. When it is time to get to work, they might feel more comfortable reaching out for help or collaborating with others in their departments.
- Training sessions: When you need to share large amounts of new information effectively, training sessions provide a hands-on experience to convey concepts and processes to teachers and faculty. Whether you are implementing new computers or restructuring your drop-off and pickup processes, training sessions can help teachers feel more prepared for the school year.
- Directories and instructions: You can help reduce back-to-school anxiety for your teachers and faculty by ensuring they have the necessary resources to reach out when they need help. Comprehensive and accessible directories and contact information can help individuals easily find and contact others in the school via phone, email, or in person. Instructions about communication standards can remind them of proper communication processes and expectations.
Your communication methods can help school workers feel more prepared for the start of school, reducing their back-to-school anxiety.
2. Connect With Colleagues
Schools can support their employees by ensuring they have ample resources, including each other. Teachers have unique experiences and tips they implement throughout the year to drive success. By setting up connections and communication between various departments, teachers and faculty members can share ideas and ask questions from others in their field.
Setting up opportunities for your employees to connect allows them to socialize, which helps reduce stress and boost support. Developing friendship opens more opportunities to collaborate for better work. Bonding and laughing at jokes helps everyone feel more relaxed, easing back-to-school anxiety.
3. Set up Consistency
Like anxious students, teachers and staff can benefit from regular schedules and routines. Unexpected situations will cause teachers and faculty to stress as they try to react to changes and reduce the impact on their students. Communication can help prevent them from being unaware, but so can consistency.
For example, if you like having department or school meetings to communicate with your employees, consider holding them at predictable times. Standing meetings can help teachers better plan and adjust their schedules.
You can further uphold consistency by implementing effective policies and procedures from the previous year. While year-over-year improvement is necessary, maintaining the aspects that have proven to work can shorten the learning curve for returning teachers and allow them to step up as leaders.
4. Emphasize Relaxation
A healthy work-life balance is essential for teachers to succeed in the school year. With lesson planning, training modules, and grading, your teachers might take the stress of the workday home with them. As the school year approaches, communicate the importance of relaxation and self-care. Encourage teachers to share their hobbies with their students or other faculty members and talk about what they enjoy doing outside work.
Showing your support for what teachers do in their downtime can encourage them to make more time for their hobbies and passions.
5. Encourage Staff to Use Their Summers
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from schools shutting down in the summer! The break gives teachers and faculty time to spend with family and friends, decompress from the stressful year, and start planning for the next one. Your administration can foster better planning and preparation during the summer by communicating with teachers as early as possible about changes and opportunities.
For example, you might open the school extra early in the summer, so teachers have more time to set up their classrooms. Having more breathing room to manage tasks before the official start of the year can allow teachers to work at their pace and step away when they need a break.
Implement Automation in Education to Reduce Back-to-School Anxiety
Automated workflows can simplify processes, allowing administrators, faculty members, and teachers to focus their attention on students and other colleagues who need their support.
Ravenna offers an admission solution for private and independent K-12 schools like yours. Our automated workflows handle communication and track essential data as students and families work through your admissions processes. Your teachers and faculty can better understand their incoming student body and needs with this valuable data to plan accordingly.
You can request a demo today and find out how Ravenna can help your school tackle the beginning of the academic year.