First Day Shock!

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What does it take for teachers to get back up to speed with their workload?

For teachers up and down the UK, staff on the whole will be returning to school this week …

Some of us may be faced with a first-day-back INSET, thanking the CPD leader for effective planning and that extra day breathing space to skive, plan, reflect; or on the other hand, you may face an onslaught of pointless meetings, full of information you could read on an A4 sheet of paper! You may even be back in the classroom already?


Either or, the chances are that the you will be feeling some sort of First Day (back) Shock! So, how do you think you are feeling at the end of the day?

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Image: Shutterstock

I’m a traditionalist at best, but I’ve never been one to set myself any new-term resolutions. In fact, I cannot remember anything that I’ve ever wanted to achieve at the start of January. Of course, I reflect on the term gone by and what I need to do during the term ahead. Maybe that’s because for most teachers, New Year begins in September and it’s at this point in the year that we set our own personal and professional goals and tweak them throughout the year.

Returning from an extended festive holiday with loved ones, friends (and colleagues), it’s that time again to take out dusty suit/shoes from the wardrobe and consider giving them a sparkling brush/polish for the start of the term.

Spare a sympathetic thought for a few colleagues who may be excited, or even nervous, starting off in a new school, whilst many others consider putting a long term behind them, finally accepting a change of whole-school tempo as the exam temperature builds …

Deadlines loom closer, the promise of marking increases and the tightly-packed revision timetable is already in draft format, which includes every Saturday leading up to Easter! That pay-cheque may be weeks further away than usual, so in many ways, you either resign yourself to long days at work or cosy nights in at home in front of the television.


You may be feeling anxious, maybe for a variety of reasons. Typically, teachers may have;

  • avoided all work-related matters over the holiday and although rested, have totally failed to consider first-day back plans.
  • not read one single email, especially key notices for the term ahead and will be playing catch-up.
  • have not considered new timetables, new students in classes and also new staff joining the school.
  • have fallen out of synchronisation or pace of school life and find on the first day back, it is hard to adjust.
  • perhaps, excited to be back into a routine that is familiar …
  • or looking forward to seeing their students once again and doing what teachers love best. To teach.

Work Blues?

  • You may feel that you need to re-learn all the basics. Something simple as “returning to work this morning, it took me about three minutes to work out how to alter the height of my chair after someone had borrowed it during my time out of the office!”
  • Having spent the school holidays relaxing and reflecting, perhaps even daydreaming on a distant, sandy shore, you may have returned to work with alternative career aspirations …
  • Be selective about greetings and conversations. “It’s not that you don’t care, or that you’re not glad to see colleagues again, but there are only so many times one can essentially have the same conversation before having to go to the office (or classroom) and take a quiet minute of refuge. All answers to the question “How was break?” will be the same.” And just take a moment to think about eye-contact and the emphasis placed on you by individuals when they ask you this. Do they mean it? Do they wait for a reply and maintain eye-contact with you? Observe its value during the course of this week.
  • Sort out your inbox! Before the end of the school holidays, I reduced my inbox from about 60 emails to roughly 10 that could wait until later. Over the holidays, there were one or two new emails that entered my inbox – mainly external agencies and none from colleagues – most which required a quick-read-delete response for the first 30 minutes at the start of the first day. It’s also a good place to start to minimise having a large list of ‘pending items’ waiting your reply.
  • Accept that “everyone is generally knackered today” and try not to be too hard on yourself (or others).
  • (Source – The Guardian)


So, consider setting yourself some targets for the term. Examples may include:

Don’t be the one crying out for help, use the solutions and suggestions above to get yourself organised and get back into the rhythm of school life …

I promise you’ll be in the swing of things by the end of the week!

Have a good term and don’t be so hard on yourself …

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