Elementary Teachers, 5 Tips on How to Manage Back-to-School Overwhelm

#teacherstress Sep 01, 2022

In today's society, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With work, family, and social obligations, it can be difficult to find time to relax and recharge. For teachers, the start of a new school year can be especially overwhelming. Between preparing lesson plans, getting to know new students, and managing a classroom, it is important to find ways to avoid letting the overwhelm ruin your teaching career.

 This is especially true for elementary teachers! You are the teacher dealing with tears and literally teaching students how to act in school. You are the teacher trying to find the perfect recipe to help students understand letters, sounds, reading, and number sense. You are laying the foundation for the rest of this child’s life. Although this task alone may sound overwhelming and at times it truly can feel that way, you are going to use these methods to avoid the back-to-school overwhelm!


5 Tips to Avoid the Back-to-School Overwhelm

  1. Prioritize your time. Make a list of what needs to be done and start with the most important tasks. Don’t try to do everything at once - focus on one task at a time.


This can be easier said than done, but it is oh so important! The best rule of thumb is to commit to your “Big 3” for the day. Find just 3 tasks that are your “must do’s” with no questions asked. They should be important. They should move you forward in some capacity whether it is lesson planning, inputting grades, or communicating with parents. Stay focused on each individual task until it is complete.

2. Start your year off with a positive attitude. Believe in yourself and your ability to teach.

You were made to teach! Even on those roughest and toughest days at the beginning of the school year, you need to remind yourself that you were made to teach. The bottom line is that you have to believe this is true for you because your beliefs about yourself are going to create the reality in which you live.


This is why having a positive attitude is so critical. Obviously, you don’t have to create “toxic positivity,” but utilize an app or book that will allow you to find a joyful mindset that you resonate with.

3. Set realistic goals for yourself and your students. Don’t try to do too much.

This can be one of the trickiest pieces to the puzzle because there is so much curriculum to cover that you want to get started as soon as possible. This is totally understandable, but here’s the thing: your number one job right now is to work on meshing the personalities of your little learners. The curriculum will come, but take time to focus on introducing them to the different areas of your classroom and practicing how to behave in each area.

Guess what else? It’s a-okay not to jump into technology right away! You may be so excited to get students logged onto RAZ Kids or Writing Without Tears, but wait until your basic routines are established and then add this in. When you do, consider meeting with students in small groups and guiding them through the process. It will save both you and them a whole lot of stress.

Oh and if you over plan for a day, have no fear! Simply push back what didn’t get covered to the next day. Maybe you can shorten or combine lessons during the week so you stay on track with your lesson plans. Teachers do this ALL the time;)

Listen to your class and follow their lead along with what makes you comfortable. Your students will guide you with what they are ready for so be sure to observe and take note.

4. Take some time for yourself: It's important to remember that you can't pour from an empty cup. Make sure to schedule some personal time into your week so that you can recharge and come back refreshed.

This tip is so important that we need to repeat it one more time: TAKE SOME TIME FOR YOURSELF! When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate, read a book, or just take some deep breaths. Whatever you need to do to feel like your best teacher-self, then go for it!

If you can get outside and take a quick 10 minute walk, you will do wonders for your mental health. Depending on how your school day is going, you might even consider doing this during your planning period or lunchtime. Can you imagine how much better you would feel getting out of the building for just a few minutes and breathing in some fresh air? Wowzers:)

5. Find a good support system: Whether it's your principal, fellow teachers, or even your family and friends, it's important to have people you can rely on for support. Having someone to talk to about the challenges you're facing can make a world of difference.

If there is one thing the world of teachers has in common it is that you will receive an abundance of support whenever you may need it. You are a 21st century teacher, so when you are feeling those back-to-school stressors taking over use your resources to take control. 

Here’s the “but” though, you have to be an advocate for yourself. Your colleagues, administrators, family, and friends are not mind readers. They don’t know what is going on in your mind or your classroom unless you tell them. Believe it or not, your admins want you to succeed and improve each and every day. They will help you as best they can, but you have to speak up.

There is a chance that you are teaching in a building that may be toxic or you simply aren’t comfortable sharing what is going on with others in your building. You may even feel guilty taking up other teachers’ time asking them questions or seeking advice. This is 100% normal especially in your early years of teaching. This doesn’t mean you are a bad teacher. It means, you need use your resources and find the support that is comfortable for you.

Many teachers find solace in sharing with others online in social media groups. Yes, you will get plenty of feedback, but listening to all of those opinions can be quite overwhelming. Plus, more often than not you are going to find plenty of overwhelmed teachers sharing about how they are quitting the profession. Quite frankly, these groups can take your mind to a whole other level of fatigue and burnout.

This is exactly why I created Lesson Plan Toolbox. I speak so often about the virtual teacher assistant component, that the mastermind piece often gets overlooked. If you have never participated in a mastermind, you are missing out. Not only is a mastermind the EASIEST way to earn professional development hours, but you are in a community of peers that want nothing but the best for you. It is truly a magical experience.

In conclusion, avoid back-to-school burnout by staying positive and taking care of yourself. Set realistic goals, take breaks, and be patient with yourself. Remember that you are not alone in this and that every teacher experiences back-to-burnout in some capacity, even if they don’t show it. Talk to other teachers, ask for help when you need it, and most importantly, give yourself time to adjust. 


Did you know...

 We are so passionate about helping primary teachers that we are now inviting teachers to simply write a reflection on this blog post, take a picture, and send it to us on Instagram or via email ([email protected]). 

Once you do that, then you will receive a 1-hour professional development certificate for FREE! 

If you enjoyed this post...

 If you enjoyed this post, then you'll want to read about the 4 Cs of 21st-century learning.

And if you haven't grabbed your FREEBIE: 7 Habits For Preventing Teacher Burnout, then what are you waiting for? Now is a perfect time...you NEED this in your life!


We continue to support K-3 teachers, both new teachers, and veterans, on their journeys. If you are interested in earning the EASIEST PD hours you will ever learn, then be sure to check this out. Feel free to contact us with any thoughts or questions. You can earn 60 HOURS in 1 year! (Grant opportunities are available!)

The Mission of Lesson Plan Toolbox:

Our mission at Lesson Plan Toolbox is to save K-3 teachers time and energy while providing resources and knowledge of 21st-century learning.

Until next week...



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