Catherine’s training/shopping plan for starting the school year


It’s happening for real– school is restarting in the Northern Hemisphere and lots of us are returning to in-person teaching or learning. Of course, the people with the other jobs have been or are dealing with the transition from remote to in-person work. I feel like I’ve not been sufficiently sympathetic up to this point. But now I am.

Returning to in-person work (outside of my house, that is) feels scary and weird. And when things feel scary and weird, making lists seems like a way to approach them. So here I go:

Logistical list:

  • Try on work clothing to see what still fits. Oh joy.
  • Order a bunch of clothing online, now that I’m going to be teaching in person AND some things from February 2020 don’t fit well now.
  • Order a lot of masks, including N95 ones, for teaching in person, along with regular surgical masks to hand to students who invariably forget/destroy theirs. It’s going to happen.
  • Download a new meditation app (Calm), because if one is good (Ten Percent Happier), two must be awesome…
  • Plan, prep and cook meals on the weekends that I can thaw or pull out of the fridge when I get home from teaching, and other meals I can take to school for lunch. I prefer not to eat in a school cafeteria, and I certainly won’t have the spoons to cook after being on campus all day.
Spoon inside. red circle with a line through it. The rest is left to the reader.

Activity list:

  • Up my meditation game to include a 15-25 minute sit each day (in addition to my early morning and late-at-night short meditations). I’m going to need as much equanimity as I can get as I shift into campus work mode. I’ve already started, so am hoping to keep it up.
  • Charge up my long-dormant fake-o FitBit to track my hopefully-soon-to-be-ordinary campus movement, which will: a) provide positive feedback/reward for each day’s courageous act of getting out of my house and car; b) provide data and set the stage for new goal-setting; c) remind me to accessorize with a real bracelet on the other wrist.
  • Pick an outdoor activity I would like to do on my way home from work, and do that activity. After all, I’m out of the house and in a moving vehicle– how hard can it be to swing by somewhere-or-other and swim or walk or cycle or do yoga or paddle? Honestly, this seems like a great idea. I think I might actually do it.
  • Put together a bag or bin with after-school playthings for swimming or walking or yoga or cycling or whatever. Wow– I think I might do this, too!
It would be double-cool to get one of these tents to change from work clothes to play clothes. Thinking on it...
It would be double-cool to get one of these tents to change from work clothes to play clothes.

Emotional list:

  • Give myself a break about how hard the transition to an on-campus regular work schedule will be. I’ve had serious insomnia for the past 18 months (and no thank you, I don’t need any sleep tips– I know them all). It’s not going away magically on Sept 2. My schedule won’t be ideal, but what is?
  • Give myself a break about how bumpy my transition is, especially in cooking and activity schedules.
  • Be flexible about what comes up in the course of the transition; if swimming is too complicated, how about walking? Or yoga? Or youtube dance videos?

This isn’t for beginners at all. I’ve studied and taught dance, and could barely manage it.

Accountability list:

  • Report back in four weeks’ time on how the transition is going. That car-tent is backordered, so likely I won’t have one, but for the rest of it, I’m looking to breathe and move through this.

And I can’t wait to see my students!

Not my students or colleagues, but you get the idea.

Hey readers, what about you? Are you in the transition back to school? Have you already done it? What’s it like? Are you headed back to in-person work? What’s working for you? I’d love to hear from you.

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