Back to School
I love watching all my friends with children post their first day of school photos on Facebook/Instagram during August. Seeing the smiles from their precious children fills me with hope and excitement on their behalf.
For the past twelve years, I was the teacher returning to school, anxious to meet my new students and ready to engage and challenge them. Its been bittersweet watching all the photos this year because it has made me miss my students and school.
I've known since the end of January that I wasn't going to be returning to the classroom this fall and you might think that after 8 months I would have come to terms with that decision, but change is hard and even though I embrace change, I am struggling with this one.
This summer has been appropriately busy for me (curriculum writing, teaching workshops, taken two college courses, family reunion, etc.), and if I had been returning to the classroom, I would have spent the last few weeks prepping for my classes and spending time in my classroom getting ready. Instead, this is what I've done:
- Moved to College Station
- Settled into my new house (living with my parents)
- Purchased all my textbooks--and yes, began to read them (might as well get a jump start)
- Baked cookies and played games with my adorable niece
- Seen several movies (go see Crazy Rich Asians)
- Started designing a yearbook made up of all my photos and paraphernalia I kept from my time teaching. I've even gone so far as to rip apart all of the last 12 years worth of yearbooks and scan the photos of the students I've taught as part of this creation.
- Back to school shopping
- I've gone through every single screenshot I've taken on my phone in the last 7 years (I'm not kidding--I've been a little bored)
- Allowed my anxiety to grow frantically out of control (I'm not used to this much downtime)
Rationally, I've measured my anxiety into two parts: academic and social--2/3rds of my fear is about the social aspect of the program, and only 1/3rd of my concern is dealing with the coursework. Unlike my classmates, I live next door to one of the professors in the business school (aka - my brother Steve), and if I am desperate for some extra academic help, I can ask him. The real shift for me is going from teaching millennials-- to working with them. As a natural introvert, reentering college and then eventually the corporate world will push me to be more assertive and direct. I will also get the opportunity to practice my networking skills (I am trying to sound positive, but these are some of my least favorite things to do). I've also been anxious about money. I am currently unemployed for the first time since I was 16--and I will need some sort of part-time work to help me live while I am in school.
Technically, my classes don't begin until next Monday, (Aug. 27) but given that my orientation started today--I thought I would officially hail myself as going 'back to school.'
This morning I had planned to arrive 30 minutes early, I wanted to make sure I found a decent parking spot and that I had plenty of time to navigate to the correct building--but I didn't have my morning routine down, and I arrived exactly on time--not the relaxing start I had wanted.
I met all the people in my program including my classmates (they are all young and attractive) and the professors. I met my Talent Acquisition professor last Saturday, as he is also the leader of my religious congregation at Church. He is very friendly and complimentary of the program and the people with which I will work.
As far as I can measure, everyone is extraordinarily lovely--but given I'm the clear outlier in the group--getting to the point where I feel I "belong" might take me some time.
Now to turn all of my ramblings into something more constructive, what to do about my feelings and this change. I've come up with a three system plan to help me manage the first few weeks (as I know things will get more comfortable with time).
1. Turn the social interactions into a game. Each day I will challenge myself to engage with at least five people and actively seek out anyone that seems a little shy. When social interactions don't go as smoothly as I had hoped, then I can reflect and change my strategy for the next time. At the forefront of all of these social interactions, I want to come off as warm and friendly. (Trying to avoid turning into the "know-it-all" because of my age and work experience)
2. Be proactive with my coursework--ask more questions than I usually do, seek out those that seem to have an excellent grasp of things for which I am struggling, and sit near the front of the class.
3. Have fun and lean into this experience. I am a thinker and have a tendency to over analyze everything--but I want to enjoy this time and see all of the beauty that is ahead of me.
Do you have any significant changes on the horizon? If so, how are you dealing with them? Any advice?