Finding Your Back-to-School Mindset, Part 2

Finding Your Back-to-School Mindset, Part 2


By Sarah Miller, High School Teacher, Chicago Area

East Chicago Central High School in East Chicago, IN


Hi, it’s me, Sarah, again. As a high school teacher in the Chicago area, I’m now officially in the throes of returning to school, as are so many other teachers across the country. This article is Part 2 of my post entitled, Finding Your Back-to-School Mindset. You’ll find Part 1 here if you’d like to check that out before reading this second part. Otherwise, read on for a few more stand-alone tips that have definitely helped me to get back into the swing of this brand new school year. I hope these ideas help you, too. Be sure to post your thoughts below and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Wake Up on EST: Earlier School Time

Summer is typically a time for relaxation. While I still worked quite hard over the summer as the director of a day camp, I did get the pleasure of sleeping in a little bit later and not having to be at work as early as I do when I am at school. One of the hardest transitions for me as I move from “Summer Mode” to “School Mode” is my sleep time. I’ve learned there is no easy way, but I have found an easi-ER way: About a week before I need to be back on my regular school schedule, I start to set my alarm a little bit earlier each day. I begin with 5-10 minutes on the first day of the week, and as the week goes on, I get up earlier and earlier until I’m waking up on my during school schedule.

Some days are easier than others to wake up earlier, but I tough it out because, for me, this is the right way for and it will make getting up for school that much easier. With so much to contend with during the first weeks of school, I’ve learned this is one stress I can avoid. When I am well rested and used to waking up at the same time each day, I know I am better prepared for what comes my way during the week; and the first weeks are crucial in the school year.

Remember WHY You Teach!

I loved the relaxing nature of the summer and used a sliver of it to reflect about the past year. I make a list of why I became a teacher. I like to remind myself of the many great reasons I teach. This list definitely eases my transition and I begin to look forward to this fresh start.

When I review past successes, I want to push myself even further to become the best teacher I can possibly be this year. When I remember past students who made big gains and learned a lot while in my class, I become eager to teach new students wand help them make their gains. I also enjoy connecting with former students, smiling at growth spurts and summer accomplishments, and watching them head off to their new classes. I remind myself that my work helped them to be ready. By identifying why you became a teacher, you’ll likely become more excited to begin the new school year. Remembering why you teach can make you a happier teacher.

This “Remember” desk accessory from Teacher Peach serves as a functional reminder if you’re looking for a few new school supplies just for you. Not only are there 1400 flags and stickies, this desk accessory contains a powerful message, one I treasure as a teacher. Even though I teach high school students, I love that the word “children” is highlighted; my high school students are amazing individuals, but it is my job to remember that even though some of them tower over me at six feet tall, they’re still children in need of my help, guidance, and support. Needless to say, though, I keep this lid closed and take a peek when they are not looking!

Pick a Peachy Treat!

Just as our students get excited to sharpen new pencils, unzip new trappers, and select a new backpack, as teachers, we can also use a back-to-school boost. Teacher accessories from Teacher Peach might be just the ticket to get your school year off to a fresh and inspired start—they’re budget friendly, too.


Check out these boat totes. I love both the message and the size options. Talk about getting a constant reminder about why I decided to teach! This tote helps me to carry my gear—and my cheer.

If you’re on the hunt for a meaningful tote with a zipper, look at the Words to Grow By products by Teacher Peach. These two bags will get all of your products students into a literary mood! The small version is $18.95 and the fancier style, with rolled handles and flat board at the bottom, runs $49.95, a great start-to-school splurge. This pattern also comes on a laptop case and journal, too.

Expand Your Community

As you embrace your return to school, I so hope you’ll connect with me here at Teacher Peach. Share your re-entry ideas, let me know what works for you, and if you take a peek at the many products Teacher Peach creates for just us teachers at, let me know your favorites! Here’s to a terrific start to your school year. I’ll be back online in the coming weeks with exciting posts about pressing issues for our students including executive functioning, planning, and forming great habits.

Finding Your Back-to-School Mindset, Part 1


Finding Your Back-to-School Mindset, Part 1

By Sarah Miller, High School Teacher

East Chicago Central High School in East Chicago, IN

On the Mode Again!

While I’m a high school teacher during the school year, I spent this past summer outside as a camp director at a day camp. I got to “play” all day, and I was outside—two very different activities from my role as a teacher. This director role let me relax more over the summer; yes, I was definitely working, but the pace, pressure, and priorities were very different from my high school teaching responsibilities. As the summer continues to wind down and school commitments begin in earnest, I know it is time for me to officially transition back into teaching mode—and making this transition isn’t always easy.

Sometimes, even just thinking about going back to school can make me a little nervous and anxious. I now suddenly have to be up and moving much earlier each day. I have to focus on lesson plans and dig deeply into data, and so much more. In short, I have to completely adjust my brain from playing at camp to teaching at school. I definitely need to make a significant shift from “Summer Mode” to “School Mode”.

Capture Your Transition Process

As I approached this change this year, I decided to capture the steps I take each August in hopes it will help other teachers who may be in similar situations to find your back-to-school mindset more easily this year. It takes a lot of hard work to transition our minds from being relaxed on summer break to hitting the ground running back at school.

As you begin your transition, capturing your process can be a big help. Think about the activities you do each year to get back into school mode. Jot them down. You might even recognize a few tried and true activities that you’ll greet like welcome, dear friends.

Here are some tips that work for me and will hopefully to help you find your particular back-to-school mindset.

As a teacher, I’d love to know what you think of these strategies, if they work for you, and if you have other ideas to share with me.

Plan First Days Lessons NOW

As soon as I begin to refocus on school, I consider my objectives, what I expect will be strong ways to connect with my students, set the tone for the school year, and begin to tackle the rigorous curriculum, I begin to get inspired. I also quickly recognize that I’ve indeed gotten a good rest over the summer; I’m excited to get started!

As I consider the lessons I know I’ll want to teach, I quickly slip back into teacher mode. Planning lessons also helps to calm my nerves about what is going to happen on those first couple days of school. (Yes! It’s never just the kids who stress about back to school, is it?)

I prefer to first map out lesson plans in my plan book to ensure my big picture plan is taking shape. Then, I “go deep” by formally writing the lessons out in detail. When I formally write out a lesson, I am careful to incorporate the many key terms I need to use as well as the processes required to write viable, formal lesson plans. Writing the formal lesson plans helps me to transition to “Teacher Mode” because these terms and ideas haven’t seemed to be on my mind all summer, but the minute I begin, I realize they’ve been percolating just below the surface all summer long.

As soon as I’ve finished the first couple of lessons for the year, I’m ready to tackle the other aspects of school like how I’ll want to set up my classroom, the approaches I plan to take with my students, and I also consider my own routines. I know that if I am prepared for school with my lessons and classroom set up, my students will get into their routines faster, and ultimately be more successful in my classroom. Lesson plans are important first steps for me to help ensure my students get off to a successful start. Writing out these lessons carefully also helps me to quickly reconnect with my teacher mindset, getting my year off to a successful start as well.

Plug Back In to School and Faculty

I am an organized and prepared person. I like feeling well prepared for whatever I’m doing, as is true of so many teachers I’ve met. One thing I do in order to get myself ready to be back in school is get in contact with my school and administrators, starting a week or two before I’m to be there and continuing through the first weeks of school. After all, my administrators are also transitioning; they need to know where I am in my transitioning process as they do the same. I let them know I’m ready to be back.

By re-establishing my relationship with my supervisors I’m better prepared for the upcoming year: I have the right schedule, know about new information, etc. Administrators like to know their teachers are on board and are thinking how they can be their best for their students. When everyone is in the same mindset, the school year runs more smoothly.

Sometimes, I’ll even jot a note to my administrators and peer teachers just to say welcome back. It helps us all feel connected. Check out these two sets of greeting cards from Teacher Peach. The inspirational Quote Cards send powerful messages to peers, friends, families, and of course to my students. I can’t even begin to choose my favorite sayings. With two cards of each quote, I don’t really have to; instead, I match the right quote for each recipient. Take a look. If only there were time, I could even make an entire lesson out of each one!


I also really like this new Black-and-White Greeting Cards and Postcards Set. There’s something for every occasion. This set even has a greeting card and postcard that read, “fresh start” and show fresh, new pencils as the graphic image.


6 Greeting Cards             



6 Postcards  


Connections Count!

As you go back to school this year, savor the connections you’ll be making with friends, colleagues, faculty, and new families and students. These connections and relationships can make all the difference. Where you connect by handwritten note, a shared cup of coffee, or simply a quick wave in the hallway, you’ll feel grounded and much more ready to begin.

I also hope you’ll connect with me here at Teacher Peach. Share your re-entry ideas, let me know what works for you, and if you take a peek at the many products Teacher Peach creates for just us teachers at, let me know your favorites! Here’s to a terrific start to your school year. I’ll be back online later this week with Part 2 of this article with tips about making these earlier morning back-to-school wake-up times easier to handle as well as anchoring your return to school to your core teaching values and why you embarked on this incredible profession of ours in the first place. Until then,

Happy teaching!