In exactly two weeks, I will be standing at the door to my classroom ready to welcome twenty-two kids inside for another school year. I can hardly believe it’s here! Honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready to retire my denim shorts and tank tops just yet. But one thing that’s getting me in the mood is doing a little back-to-school shopping. It’s probably one of the best parts of being a teacher. You know, besides helping kids reach their potential.
If you’re a teacher, it can be difficult to decide what to wear. You go from standing and presenting to sitting on the floor to avoiding flailing glue sticks and flying pencils. If you work in a non-traditional, more creative job (but not so creative because you can’t wear jeans all day), you probably have similar problems but fewer glue sticks. You don’t have to go crazy building a casual professional wardrobe but there are a few “must haves” that will up your style game.
Invest in the dress.
The dress is the one-piece wonder that you’ll never regret buying. It makes getting dressed on those early school mornings as easy as one and done. Plus you can take a fall dress, layer it with tights and a cardigan, and voila! It’s ready for the next season! To find the dress of your dreams, focus on the fit. Great school-appropriate dress fits are A-line, midi, and drop-waist like my favorite LOFT dress above (it’s from last season but I am about to run out and buy this inexpensive and beautiful one from Nordstrom).
Cardigans are your BFF.
When you’re a teacher you’re constantly trying to separate your students from their classroom BFF. Now I’m here to introduce you to your classroom BFF: the cardigan. Long, short, cotton, knit, whatever you choose, cardigans are a must for teachers. Schools’ heating and cooling systems are notoriously tricky. That’s why having a cardigan to layer over your school outfit is absolutely necessary.
Comfortable shoes are KEY.
Teachers tend to forget how much walking and standing we do all day. And oh my goodness do I LOVE shoes: block heels, pointed flats, slingbacks. But comfort is what you want when you’re teaching. So low heels and flats are my go-to’s. Additionally, having a slightly higher budget for shoes is a good idea. I made the mistake of investing in a few pairs of basic Target flats. Now, my love for Target has no limits. But after a few days of teaching, there were blisters and pain in my legs and back. Look for quality as you shop and I promise, there are cute and stylish shoes that are also comfortable (linking a bunch below!).
Look for those basic and beautiful blouses.
White button downs used to be my top of choice for professional dress when I first started teaching. Thanks to retailers realizing that professional can also be pretty, there are now so many choices. I’m looking to pick up a few embroidered ones for this fall and then I’ll save them for the spring. I’m also eyeing up anything with ruffles because, duh, ruffles are the best. Not feeling embroidery or ruffles? Patterns are just as perfect.
This will be my sixth first day of school since becoming a teacher and it’s no less nerve-wracking than my first. There is just so much to do before and so many things to think of! So for those of you going into your first year of teaching, I know exactly how you’re feeling! If you’re feeling a bit nervous, here are three things I always do to make my first day easy breezy.
- Over plan and over prepare. You can never be too prepared for your first day. For every one activity, plan at least three more. Have brain break ideas ready to go for those awkward ten minute blocks that somehow pop-up in the first few days. Make an alternative plan for each lesson as you get to know your students. That way you can pivot if you realize that this group of students can’t handle the activity.
- Walk through your first day ahead of time. Again, you want to be super prepared for your first day because you can’t redo the first impression. I always write out exactly how I want the first day to go, full out lesson plans with scripts, and go over it a few times. You will also need to be aware that it will probably not go exactly as planned. However, if you have a plan, you’ll be able to adapt to any surprises and get back on track quickly.
- Be kind to yourself. My first few years of teaching I often went home dejected, feeling like I hadn’t done enough or I hadn’t done it right. The thing I realize now is that everyone makes mistakes, no matter how long you’ve been teaching. There will be lessons or days that don’t go right but all you can do is give yourself some grace and do better next time.
If you’re a teacher and headed back to school, or already there (bless you), I hope you have the best year ever! I’ll be right there in the trenches with you. (And be sure to reach out on twitter so we can commiserate!)