The first lesson back after the summer break is generally a peculiar beast. Despite teaching several adult classes over the summer, I still came back to school last week feeling like I’d forgotten how to do my job. Apparently I’m not alone, because I walked into the staffroom a full three hours before my first lesson to find that all the other teachers had gotten there before me, to “get stuff sorted”. Even colleagues with several years’ teaching experience reported the same phenomenon: sitting down to plan the first lesson and experiencing that mild panic when ideas don’t seem to come quite as easily as you’d remembered.
Maybe it’s a practical thing. Things just take longer after the summer break. You’ve forgotten the photocopier code, the young learner coursebooks have been moved upstairs, and the speakers in your classroom just refuse to work so you have to get someone up to fix them, or else rewrite that bottom-up listening lesson you were planning to do. Your three-hour jumpstart on that first lesson has somehow dwindled into thirty minutes, and now you’ve finally remembered your photocopier code but where did you leave your pencil case? Has anyone seen it? Guys?
It’s easy to blame those first-day-back nerves on logistical hiccups, but I suspect that at least part of it is emotional. We’ve had a long summer break, with far too much time to analyse and, more often than not, deconstruct our teaching from the previous year. How did my PET classes get on in their June exam session? Should I be doing more bottom-up listening practice with my teens? How can I move towards using more student-generated materials this year? Underlying all those questions is a genuine desire to develop, combined with the insidious whisperings of Imposter Syndrome. You don’t know how to do your job. Last year was a fluke, and in fact, so was all of your prior teaching experience – look, it’s taken you forty minutes just to plan this first lesson …
It’s funny that even after doing Delta M2 and receiving extensive feedback stating quite the opposite, I still feel like a fraud in teacher’s clothing to a certain extent. Does Imposter Syndrome ever go away? Or does it just mean I still care (too much) about my job? Answers on the back of postcard, please, especially if you’re an experienced teacher reading this blog post!
Luckily for me, past-Sanchia had anticipated future-Sanchia having teacher’s block in September, and had left future-Sanchia all seven of past-Sanchia’s lesson-planning books from the year before, safe in her locker, ready to copy from should future-Sanchia need them. Future-Sanchia did, of course, need them, and found herself repeating quite a few of last year’s tried-and-tested first lesson ideas, which present-Sanchia is currently writing up for a future blog post.
And if you’ve made it this far, leave me a comment and let me know how your first lessons are going!