Back to School Mental Health Checklist for Teachers

It may seem like only yesterday that teachers were checking in books and stacking chairs to prep their classrooms for a quiet summer, but teachers are now switching gears to prepare for another school year.

Although teaching practices change very little from year to year, many other elements change every fall: new students bring different dynamics into the classroom. Faculty changes and new policies often pop-up during pre-planning, requiring teachers to pivot quickly before the chairs fill up with students. These changes punctuate the most significant change: adjusting to an early morning wake-up up!

Emotions run high for students and teachers on the first days of school: anxiety, excitement, joy, disappointment, and other intense feelings can easily overwhelm the entire classroom. We’re sharing a mental health checklist to help teachers stay positive and prepared for the new school year.

  • Review your class list and subjects—Get familiar with your student list, get your lesson plans in order (at least for the first few weeks!), and visit your classroom to ensure it’s stocked with supplies.
  • Plan ways to decompress—Your first school days may end with collapsing on the couch in a tired stupor—and that’s OK! Be kind to yourself and listen to your body. Make a list of activities that help you decompress before you’re too tired to think. Decompressing helps regulate emotions.
  • Start a schedule early—The story is as old as teaching itself: Twas the night before back-to-school, and teachers are just starting their fall sleep schedule. This year, try creating your bedtime and wake up routine a week before school begins. Include an evening routine of preparing lunch, clothes, and supplies for a smooth morning.
  • Recruit your support system—Teachers experience tremendous stress all year, so it’s ideal to find your support system early. Include new and experienced teachers to give you advice, loved ones to provide you comfort, and a few friends to help you take your mind off stress. Let them know they’re your team!
  • Learn your triggers—You have some distance between last year and this year, and it’s an excellent time to review your stress triggers from a birds-eye view before your new class arrives. For instance, if you’re easily overwhelmed by noise, create an action plan for quieting the class before your stress kicks in.
  • Practice resilience—Resilience is adapting well when faced with stress, and it’s an important skill for teachers to develop. Some common skills to practice resilience include a sense of humor, patience, optimism, secure attachment, engaging the support of others, and viewing change as an opportunity.

Although this checklist will help collect the tools to manage stress and regulate emotions, it’s also essential for teachers to recognize when they need more support. Uprise Health’s digital EAP program can provide just-in-time mental health and work-life support that is accessible, convenient, and fun. Learn more about our wellbeing solutions for members!

Additional Resource

When Alabama’s Baldwin County Board of Education leaders recognized the need to help their teachers navigate stress and burnout, they turned to Uprise Health’s digital EAP solutions. Learn how these easy-to-access services improved utilization and engagement by downloading our recent case study: Baldwin County BCBE Case Study