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Teachers Express Their Back-To-School Jitters

Audio

Aired 9/3/10

The official start to a new school year in San Diego County begins next week after Labor Day. This week can be a nerve-wrecking time for many school kids as they think about the year ahead. But many teachers are feeling the same way.

The official start to a new school year in San Diego County begins next week after Labor Day. This week can be a nerve-wrecking time for many school kids as they think about the year ahead. But many teachers are feeling the same way.

Cathy Ramos is a bundle of energy. She darts around her classroom unpacking boxes and decorating walls. Ramos teaches second grade at Chavez Elementary School near downtown San Diego.

With a few more days before the start of the new school year, Ramos admits she's been feeling a little uneasy this week.

“I always get nervous. I feel like I'm the student on my first day of school,” Ramos said.

This will be the first year Ramos is teaching second graders. New teaching materials and supplies are stacked on small desks. Paperwork is piled in corners and on chairs.

It’s not usual for teachers to get the butterflies before the first day of school. Most stress-out over performing well, keeping kids in line, dealing with difficult parents and getting kids ready for state tests.

Ramos says she’s had some bad dreams in the weeks before the first day of classes.

“My students were not listening to me in my dreams. That's my biggest fear,” Ramos said. “I had another dream about organizing my classroom. The next day I had to buy some supplies to help organize my classroom because it just got to me.”

Ramos and other teachers have their own ways to get psyched for another year of new challenges and students. Some go over their old lesson plans. Others dive into old, reliable books for inspiration or to get them in the zone.

Michelle Janette teaches at Benchly-Wienberger Elementary in San Carlos. She's been successfully juggling classroom demands for more than a decade.

Her classroom decor is subtle. Nametags are neatly placed on desks. Books are stacked on shelves.

This year Janette will be teaching a class that combines second and third graders under one roof.

She says she spent three hours a week prepping her classroom over the summer break to fight the back-to-school jitters. Janette says every year she asks herself the same question:

“Can I do this again?,” Janette said. “You find that, yes, you can. But at the beginning, it does seem overwhelming because there is so much that you have to do.”

Most school districts have had to scale back on programs that provide more training for teachers. Some districts have done away with teacher assistants to help in the classroom.

As a result, teachers rely on each other for mental or emotional support. Janette says she doesn't get the back-to-school nightmares anymore, but her insomnia kicks-in as soon as the school year starts.

“There are so many things to think about,” Janette said. “That tape runs through your head. All the things you have to do.”

But despite losing a little sleep, Janette says she wouldn't have it any other way.

“I really don't know how people refresh themselves in jobs that don't have that kind of first day every year because its like everything is new.”

And she says the excitement in helping a new batch of young minds keeps her coming back year after year.

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