Kick Off the New School Year Happier!

Suzanne DaileyBlog, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • It is important for teachers to remember that we have what it takes to help our students grow, no matter what their starting point is.
  • A Teach Happier act of kindness challenge is shared.

Remember back in March when we thought that getting to the end of the 19-20 school year would be like completing a marathon? We had to pace ourselves, keep our eyes on our own progress, and continue looking towards the finish line.

For most teachers, the 26.2 mile marathon of 19-20 seems to be turning into a 70.3 mile Ironman®. Most of us are still not even sure what some of our “events” will be in 20-21.  We need to muster more endurance and energy than ever as we work with new students who may not have made adequate progress during emergency remote learning last spring.

It makes me nervous knowing I still need to ensure these students meet standards at the next level, even though they may be entering the classroom at a lower readiness level. Multiply that by 25 students or 7 classes and pass me a paper bag to breathe into. Are you feeling the same way? If so, my teacher friends and I have discovered something that helps us maintain perspective and a sense of calm, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

When you find yourself overwhelmed with how you’ll help your new students succeed after last spring, remember we always find a way to muster the endurance and energy to carry on, all to help our students grow. Click To Tweet

New School Year: A Typical First Day

But before we do that, let’s roll back to a typical school year (remember those?!) where our first day back to school with students often goes something like this:

After a night of very little sleep, we dress in our “best” teacher clothes and shoes (these items usually fall out of the outfit rotation within 3 weeks) to excitedly (and nervously!) meet our new students. We enthusiastically welcome them to their new classroom, learn about one another with interactive activities, and share information about the upcoming year.

In these first hours, although we focus on relationships, our teacher brain can’t help but constantly survey this new classroom family. We wonder: What do these kids know? What are they able to do? What are their strengths and goals? No morning flies by quicker than the first-day-of-school morning.

Later, we meet with our colleagues to eat lunch, who, like our outfits, are the best they’re ever going to be all year.  We share observations that typically go a little something like this:

“I don’t know…my students seem so nice, but they also seem so…young.”


“They are super sweet, they really are.  A little chatty, but that’s OK. But boy do I have my work cut out for me this year. It’s going to take a lot to get them where they need to be by the end of the year.”

New School Year: Moving Forward to Growth

Sound familiar?  On that first day, we remember the kids that left our classroom in June and compare them to those that just entered in September. We can’t fathom how we are going to move them all forward.

And guess what? Every year we do.

Every. Single. Year.

This is what my teacher friends and I continue to remember as we prepare for 20-21, uncertainties and all. We feel this every year, and we’re going to feel it again this year, too.

When you find yourself overwhelmed with how you’ll help your new students succeed after last spring, remember we always find a way to muster the endurance and energy to carry on, all to help our students grow.

Rest assured knowing that one of our greatest gifts as teachers is providing the conditions to get students to move from point A to point B.

Even if it’s a 70.3 mile journey.

[scroll down to keep reading]

With so much uncertainty, now is the time to feel certain about your professional relationships! Choose to do one conscious act of kindness every day for 1 week by texting a colleague a greeting, a note of gratitude, or something to make them giggle. Nurturing these relationships will make you feel more prepared and supported as we begin this school year. And the best part? When you reach out to someone to make them happy, your happiness level will increase exponentially! Win-win!


Suzanne Dailey is proud member of the Teach Better Family! She is an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District where she has the honor and joy of working with elementary teachers and students in 15 buildings. Suzanne is Nationally Board Certified, a Fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a Masters Degree in Reading. She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher. Suzanne lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.