Help! I’m Having Anxiety Attacks About Back to School

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Dear We Are Teachers,

I’m going into my fourth year of teaching this fall. As the second half of summer approaches, a new thing has started happening when I think about school starting: anxiety attacks. I get so overwhelmed and stressed during the school year that just the thought of that starting up again is enough to send me spiraling. I still have half the summer left! What can I do to get these to stop?

—A Hot mess

Dear A.H.M.,

I’ve been there, friend. So many of us have been there.

There’s all kinds of self-care tips and tricks that teachers can do to reduce the impact of this job. But since these anxiety attacks significantly interfere with your life, I think that’s an issue to take to your doctor.

Many teachers have more flexibility schedule-wise in the summer (even if they’re still working). But if you are in a time crunch or still bound to a schedule, there are all kinds of ways you can get treatment virtually. Check your insurance coverage first and go from there.

A second recommendation I have if this is still affecting you during the school year: your school nurse. Don’t be afraid to utilize them as a resource and starting point for seeking treatment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run my symptoms by them, had my blood pressure checked, or made them look at a weird rash.

(OK, I can count the number of times I’ve made a school nurse look at a weird rash I had: It was one time, and we all laughed about it.)

Bottom line: This is something for a trained professional to treat.

Dear We Are Teachers,

I teach middle school in Oklahoma. I’m very concerned about the directive from our state superintendent Ryan Walters that all teachers must teach the Bible this coming school year. It goes against everything I believe. How do I take a stand without being fired?

—i’m not sunday school certified

Dear I.N.S.S.C.,

One one hand, I am very concerned for the attacks coming for public education this summer.

On the other hand, I think Ryan Walters is—and I’m going to be very careful about my words here—a silly boy. I also think he’s just salty that he didn’t think of the Ten Commandments thing before Louisiana did and is grasping at straws.

I have very little faith in the Supreme Court these days. But I can’t imagine the Simone Biles–level mental gymnastics the justices would have to perform to not see the danger in government-sanctioned religion.

However, in the event that the Supreme Court disappoints us all yet again, I think your question (“How do I take a stand without being fired?”) is a great one for your school’s union rep.

BUT, if you want to get into good trouble, I’m your girl. Maybe, like attendance, you just keep forgetting! Perhaps you put a copy of The Da Vinci Code inside a Bible cover and teach that instead! Maybe you give legislators a taste of their own medicine and teach that chapter in Leviticus where God makes a whole town eat their own children! I don’t know! This is just off the top of my head!

Dear We Are Teachers,

I’m looking to upgrade my teacher wardrobe this summer. Can you recommend a few brands and/or pieces that are cute, size-inclusive, and affordable? Bonus points if the brand is sustainable!

—fix my fit

Dear F.M.F.,

Ooh, what a fun question!

It’s tough to check all of those marks! Especially affordable and sustainable at the same time, sadly. But for more-sustainable-than-affordable pieces (because I’m legally obligated as a perfectionist to go for the bonus points), I would browse stuff from Pact, Toad&Co, MATE the Label, and Girlfriend Collective. Everlane’s a good consideration, too, even if it’s not totally sustainable. If affordability is the main concern (and no judgment there!), you can pick up some great staples at Target, Old Navy, and H&M. Also, you can find pretty good sales at Boden, J.Crew, and Nordstrom if you’re looking for more upscale pieces to weave in year after year.

Also, here’s some input from teachers in our Helpline Facebook Group who recommended these favorite items:

Happy shopping!

Do you have a burning question? Email us at

Dear We Are Teachers,

I got hired in March by the same school where I did my student teaching. I was really looking forward to resting up this summer. But three times since I signed my contract, I have gotten emails from the district or my principal about mandatory professional development we’re expected to attend before school starts. I don’t care that I didn’t have plans this summer—not working was my plan! Should I say I’m busy, or should I plan on attending in order to give a good first impression?


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