Why Teachers Are So Tired

Are you tired after teaching?

Better question: When was the last time you weren’t tired after teaching?

If you’re like most teachers I know, including me and my wife, being tired at the end of the day is a way of life. We’ve become so used to it that it’s hard to imagine how it could be any different.

Our non-teacher friends have a hard time understanding how we could be so exhausted. After all, we’re not building houses, or working under tight deadlines, or competing with co-workers to sell the most widgets, or working in some ultra-competitive office with an unreasonable boss breathing down our necks. We work with kids! We work seven-hour days! We have a lot of control over our own schedules. We have summer vacation!  Some teachers have these thoughts themselves and wonder what’s wrong with them. How in the world can we be so tired?

There are three reasons.

Decision Fatigue and Willpower

Psychologist Roy Baumeister coined the term “ego depletion” after he found that humans have a limited supply of willpower.  He compares willpower to a muscle, which can strengthen, but also wear out with use. Ego depletion has a general effect, meaning that using self-control in one area of your life erodes your ability to self-regulate in other parts of your life. Baumeister found that exerting self-control results in a significant drop in blood-sugar levels.  Low blood-sugar leads to physical fatigue, which is why you’re so tired, even though the heaviest thing you lifted was a textbook.

As a teacher, think of how often you use willpower.  We censor ourselves all day.  We hold back a sarcastic remark, walk away from a lazy student when we what we really want to do is lecture her, keep our honest thoughts about the principal’s latest idea to ourselves, respond professionally to a disrespectful email from a parent, work with a student when we want to do anything but, plan the next day when we’d rather check Facebook, hold it in when we’d like to drop an F-bomb. Teachers use willpower constantly.

But here’s the real kicker: making decisions uses willpower.  Researchers call this decision fatigue. The more decisions you make over the course of the day, the more willpower you use. There’s strong research that shows criminals are far better off going before a parole board early in the day than near the end of the day. Similarly, there is research that suggests the student’s paper that gets graded first gets a fairer score than the one graded last. After a day of making decisions, we don’t have the energy left to make good ones.

It’s estimated that teachers make about 1,500 decisions every school day. When you combine those decisions with all the necessary self-regulation involved with teaching kids, it’s no wonder our willpower is gone by five o’clock. We are exhausted.

High-intensity emotions

A second reason teachers are tired is because of the effect of high-intensity emotions. High-intensity emotions like anger, frustration, excitement, and elation are physiologically taxing. Positive emotions arouse the same physiological response as negative ones: our heart rate increases, our sweat glands activate, and we startle easily. Since it activates our body’s stress response, high-intensity emotions–whether positive or negative–wear us out.

Teachers are instructed to be enthusiastic in their lessons. Many teachers believe that to be their most effective, they must be energetic. They have to bring it! That might be true, but just know that your excitement, combined with your moments of anger, frustration, and even elation, will tire you out.

Worry

Not surprisingly, worrying is linked to fatigue. When we worry, we imagine and anticipate negative events. Our stress level elevates and our body activates its fight-or-flight response. Our hearts beat faster, we sweat, and our immune systems prepare a response. As a result, we get tired.

Teachers worry for all sorts of reasons:

  • students aren’t learning
  • behavior problems
  • a lesson is bombing
  • there’s a sub tomorrow
  • a parent is angry
  • the principal is coming for an observation
  • the copy machine is down and what am I going to do now?
  • my colleague is mad at me
  • I showed a movie and a character said “hell” and now the kids might go home and tell mom and dad and they’ll call the principal and I never even filled out the stupid form I’m supposed to fill out for the movie and…I’m sure you can think of many more.

So that’s why we’re tired all the time: we make a ton of decisions, we cycle between high-intensity emotions, and we worry too much.

But there are some things you can do about it. Next, I’ll share strategies teachers can use to address each of these causes so you can go home with more energy at the end of the day.

What do you do to feel less tired at the end of the day? Leave your ideas in the comments (so I can steal them for subsequent posts! 😉

So what can you do about it? Try these ideas:

Fewer Decisions = More Energy

How Teachers Can Use Less Willpower

Why Teachers Should Almost Always Be Calm

One more to come.

Like what you see? Want more? Why not join the Teacher Habits Club? It’s like all those other clubs you’re a member of, except instead of 50 cents off a mug of beer or exclusive access, you get new articles emailed to you! Join here. 

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Note: Source material for much of the above comes from Emma Seppala’s excellent book, The Happiness Track.

287 Replies to “Why Teachers Are So Tired”

    1. I tell myself”i did what i could do the best..so calm down.student cant take your job as seriously as you do…dont take the students non serious attitude so seriously…being worried will not help you out..youbare not the only one suffering….bla bla” and so on….i have programmed myself to rely on antidepression thoughts to get myself ready for next day and ofcourse an exercise routine will be a great help.

    2. I decompress with my colleagues when the kids are safely on the bus. I volunteer for recess duty, so I get outside and breathe!
      I avoid the faculty lounge so I avoid unnecessary worries. I make lists before I go to bed, so I don’t worry so much. I always respond to problems first thing, so they don’t linger. I eat lunch.

    3. Exercise- especially walking, yoga, barre ( I just follow the path/instructions)

      Facilitate small group work and discussions so I can observe, listen in and lend a hand while students take initiative, explore and support each other

    4. Prayer: before a stressful event Before a challenging situation, Before . . . My prayer:
      A LITTLE LESS “I got this.” And A LOT MORE “GOD please guide me through these murky waters.

    5. I try to find joy in small things. A tea from my favorite place, my favorite sandwich during my rushed lunch, a candy bar or just looking at Pinterest during my rushed lunch. I plan a 6 weeks ahead. Copies are all made ect… I am still so very tired each afternoon. I had major surgery almost 2 yrs ago. My energy hasn’t been the same since no matter what supplements I take. Teaching is exhausting, but those precious faces are worth every second.

    6. Drink. Then you can get fat and worry about that too, like me. I never really thought about these things before now. I am usually exhausted these days though. I thought it was because I am getting old and fat. Thanks!

  1. I’m retired. Your article is the bullseye truth.

    I had my best energy when I attended water exercise 3 days a week. A massage once a week helps, too. You wouldn’t believe the amount of pain in the muscles that are accumulated.

    1. I agree so much about the massage weekly, I have so much tension in my muscles that my body is a mess and have been getting a weekly massage since November to try to repair my body. I am still a mess! Weekly massages, or at least monthly massages, should be included in a teacher’s contract! 🙂

      1. I am currently teaching in Paraguay. As part of our health program, we have been given 30 free massages a year. Each massage is 30 minutes. It’s wonderful! I agree that this is something teachers should be able to get regularly.

      2. I do this, too. Especially after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (a stress-related disorder, BTW). If I don’t get this done weekly, I’m a complete mess!

          1. Look for a massage club. My salon spa offers this so you can get a massage once a month and it’s a reduced rate since you pay for it at the beginning of the month. Look for a spa that allows you to stop at any time without penalty and no time constraints

        1. If you are drinking beverages with artificial sweeteners, Stop! I had fibromyalgia when I started trying to cut down on sugar by using them and I had it for about a year and a half. I stopped drinking artificial sweeteners and it went away. I try to stick with water more than ever now.

    2. Ditto on everything you said here, Carolyn. I’m also retired – for 12 years after a 30-year stint as a classroom teacher. Water exercise & massage are STILL essential components for therapy in ‘teaching detox’!

    3. Could I sue the department for no support education about this sort of self care to avoid chronic fatigue, the effects on family, a divorce …..
      Promotions into middle management roles….I’ve had lunch with prospective criminals in the name of student welfare…
      I finally took leave. …never returned… grieved the loss of my passion ..and took 28 yrs of experience with me.
      I am now the healthiest I’ve ever been.. ..and still making a difference in young pepoles lives.

      1. Good for you, Gabrielle.
        I imagine you could sue (although I’m not a lawyer), but you sound happy, healthy and fulfilled now. I just wonder if going down that road might bring back all kinds of stress… and there’s no guaranteed win. Just my two cents.

      2. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, and so ashamed of a system that disrespects the people who prepare our most important asset…young people…for the future. Teachers are golden and they need to be revered and paid and cared for. Teachers made a huge difference in my life and despite being 73 years old, I remember and value what teachers did for me.

      3. What do you do now? I left teaching for 7 years, but returned these past 2 years. I’m continue to look for other opportunities.

        1. As a laboratory tech I resigned and went to work at a private school… I thought that I had died and gone to heaven….All that I did was appreciated and valued by staff and students.I went home each day on a high. So my thoughts to teachers are to believe in yourselves and know that you are doing a great job.because you are….

  2. Other reasons teachers are tired: they are overload with long hours of teaching, lots of unnecessary paper work, computer works, on line keying in n checking informations n attending too many meetings…..

      1. I engage 143 middle school students for 47-50 minutes x 4 days & 30 minutes 1 day , 6 periods with 5 straight periods. No para-professional to assists me as 64 years old is pretty exhausting. But if I can make a difference with any of my students it’s time well spent.

    1. I read your article lying down in bed , after teaching in a developmental learning unit all day. It made me laugh….because I was so tired!
      Thanks for the article. It makes a lot of sense.

    2. I don’t know any teachers getting “such a high pay,” but I know and see plenty of business people who are way overpaid for a fraction of the work…

    3. Overload is a big issue. Constant changes in curriculum, too many initiatives that do not truly help the students, and let’s not forget the micromanagement of what, when, and how we teach even if it is against our better judgement all contribute to that breakdown of energy.

      1. So sad that we cannot teach what we want, when we want… taking away our choice and expertise on these subjects is truly a detriment for our kids… we do the best we can, but when ur passion is for environment and you are forced to teach from a curriculum that is all “online” it makes things tough…

    4. Oh yes….you are spot on….the sad part is, that the computer and paper work, the endless meetings and the churning over of the curriculum doesn’t, in any way, make us better teachers. It just makes us more tired and less able to be brilliant, innovative and stimulating teachers for our students.

    5. Don’t do it then. It is the best job in the world. If you are not getting the best out of it and just focusing on the negative perhaps it’s time for a new job. I get quiet fed up of teachers who focus on what’s wrong and not the amazing learning experiences they are providing. Glad you don’t teach my little girl.

      1. Comments like yours are exactly how willpower is depleted. I’m glad she is not teaching your little girl,too, because you wouldn’t appreciate her and you’re an armchair quarterback.

        1. I agree, Judy! Even the Teacher of the Year is affected by administrative, Federal and State Education decisions. Being made to use unsound practices even when you know it isn’t good adds even more stress. Good teachers worry and complain when it is sometimes the only coping mechanism you have at some point.

      2. Char, I was up until 4:16 last night working on a lesson. Thanks for your insight into my profession and for your kind words. They made my day.

      3. You know what Char, what you wrote makes you seem less intelligent than you probably are. I have been teaching 20 years. I have had 4 children all taught in the public schools. The teachers who are there are DEDICATED to their students, but there comes a time when there are bright, shining teachers and people bring them down for being different. There are times when the stressors of teaching outweigh the gifts that traditionally accompany the job. When one’s outgoing amount of love, care, and nuturing is not returned by kids, administration, parents, one’s own children, neighbirs, family etc and then all of the normal bills, etc, then the constant bombardment of the excellence the teachers hold themselves up to is threatened. Please don’t blame caring and loving teachers who are advocating for themselves and asking for their needs to be met. One cannot get the best out of everything all of the time. Negative comments from you telling us to leave just goes to show that we are not appreciated for what we give and have given and sacraficed for all theae years. Yes, it is the best job in the world, but not one to sacrafice one’s own well-being when you are being abused emotionally, mentally, and even sometimes physically. I hope you don’t find your kryptonite one day…people will judge you just as harshly as you are judging them.
        Thank you for your input.

        1. Cher is young. Wait until she has got 20 plus years. Yes I love everyone of my sweet kinders. Yes I have taught over 25 years. And yes I am tired, very tried at times. And yes I am even on drugs to help me control my reactions to a very difficult student. And yes I am using my God given talent of teaching deveoplmentally 5years to read. And according to test scores I am very good at it. But I am tried!!!!!! Tried of admin. Breathing down my neck., tried of rude students not learning manners at home, tried of young first teachers thinking they know everything, I am tried. But I am not tried of the love and hugs I get on a daily bases I get from my sweet kinders.

      4. And why is it the best job in the world? Are you a teacher? It is comments like yours about teaching that are infuriating. It’s like teachers are not allowed to be human.

        1. I don’t think it was a spelling error at all. I’m QUITE sure it was incorrectly used because she didn’t know there was a difference in the two words.
          More than likely she was condemning others when that lesson was taught.

      5. They are probably glad they don’t teach her either. Stinks to have an unnecessarily rude comment aimed at you, doesn’t it?

      6. Glad I don’t teach with you! Rather than a supporter, you’re a judger, and no one likes working with people like that! Teaching is a very difficult job, but so few people know the real issues for teachers! We love our kids! We love to teach! It’s all the other BS that makes it a health hazard for so many people – anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, irresponsible parents, and the list goes on! Hail to all of us who struggle every day to do our best and love our kids and are yet so under appreciated and under paid!

      7. Char – teachers are human. Why can’t we admit it’s an exhausting job? Who said we don’t love kids? And if a teacher wants to leave teaching it’s not that easy to find another job. Especially the older you get jobs are not easy to come by. The article is addressing why teachers are tired. Apparently this does not apply to you.

      8. Teaching can be really tough, Char. This is not about sour grapes here; it really is exceptionally draining. Oh, and the word is “quite,” and you would use “with,” not “of.” You are not “quiet fed up of teachers.”
        But thanks for the advice. I’ll look at this lesson as the amazing learning experience I was able to provide for you. You’re so welcome!

      9. How long have you been teaching to have such an arrogant attitude. Let me guess less than 10 years. Oh and by the way I had the same attitude as you when I was young. Now with plus 25 years my heart has soften. Please find my earlier post.

    6. I totally agree Cheryl, and add time consuming paperwork or assessments assigned by someone who doesn’t have to do them, but thought were a good idea, thrown at teachers at the last minute just before grades or parent conferences

    7. Amen, Cheryl. I wondered why this didn’t come up in the article . Too political? The increasing amount of paperwork, extra tasks or projects that come from above, new curriculum to learn are all exhausting. Testing, the constant juggling of schedules, under staffing. They could be added to the article in one or two more sections.

  3. Add in professional Development aka professional punishment. A nurse has to have 10 hours every 2 years, and they are working on bodies. We have to have 60+( that usually are not beneficial ). Exercise would be great if I could move at the end of the day. I love my job, but it is the nonteaching activities that wear me out.

    1. interested in where you heard nurses only had to have 10 hours every 2 years?
      This nurse has constant continuing education just to stay on top of the ever trending changes in healthcare.
      PS: I also teach! #nurseeducator

  4. My grandmother just passed, and I had to prepare work for 4 days for 205 students in 6 classes. I prepared 16 different assignments with instrustions, and completed this after teaching a full Monday.

    1. Sorry for your loss. The worst about having a sub is what you leave doesn’t get done and they are not respectful of your personal property

      1. I take offense. I am the substitute. I have 25 different children, five different classrooms, five different schedules and five different ways of doing things, every week! AND I don’t know where anything is, often don’t have computer access and sometimes, not adequate plans. The only time I open a teacher’s desk, is to look for supplies. Usually band aids or tape. You think your job is stressful? Try mine.

        1. Right on! I hate invading the desk but it is sometimes necessary. I do try always to be respectful and do as much if not ALL the teacher has written.

        2. I am a sub & have taken a position to finish out the year for a teacher that retired. I am not as tired as I was before because I know where I’m going & what I’m doing everyday. Subbing is like being on call 7 days a week plus having a different schedule & location everyday. The kids are use to me now & can’t play the let’s goof off we have a sub today routine. It’s still tiring, stressful, & more responsibilities but I am enjoying it more.

        3. I did! Subbing is hard! Students do not respect you, teachers don’t leave adaquate plans, it’s boring because there aren’t adequate plans! I do this for 7 years and am now a teacher ! Guess what? Subs aren’t as good as you but treat them like gold and they do a great job! I was treated poorly by many teachers and told myself I would never be like that. I think all teachers should have to sub at one point in their career. Ps: I had one sub who ate all my food.

        4. Leslie, do not take offense. Please realize that when teachers talk about subs, it is the substitute that does not touch the work left. The subs that choose to listen to the students rather than reading the plans that are left. Teachers dread returning to the classroom after a day that you had a sub. Please remember we LOVE those special people that will come into our room and try to make our sick day a little better! And know that I and others appreciate all of your hard work and time you choose to spend in the classroom.

        5. Being a substitute must be incredibly difficult and good subs are hard to find. I treasure anyone who will come in and take over for me when I am out sick. Thank you for what you do!

          1. Haha, a teacher knocking on the sub again. This is so annoying. I subbed too and a lot of the teacher’s were disrespectful and acted like they were better than the teachers. Real nice.

          2. Correction, I had a typo lol. I meant the teachers felt they were more important and basically snubbed the sub!

        6. well not on your comment but i think a little fresh air can help a little more CO2 in the class might be a add on .. heck if you could during class change break try to get extra air ..i can see why it makes a person sleepy good luck !!!!!!!!!! by the way im not a teacher ..

        7. Exactly, I am a sub also. I always leave a note at the end of the day and thank the teachers who have things ready for me. If you have never subbed you have no idea what we go through. I try to follow plans, but some are very difficult to understand. Sometimes I cannot find materials. Sometimes I get called in late and do not have time to go over them before hand. I have walked in and had no plans what so ever before as well. I know emergencies occur at times. I can usually find something to do or someone to help. Some lesson plans are not suitable for subs because they do not know your students or they may make classroom control more difficult. Please consider that. I think teachers who have subbed know how to plan for one. I know how stressful that is as well. That is harder and takes more time than planning for your own lesson. Only other teachers know how stressful are job really is. I tried full time once and had to quit due to the stress. I went back to subbing.

      2. I’m a sub full time but in Oregon all subs are licensed teachers so let me tell you I’m nothing but respectful of a teacher’s personal property. I do admit to away with a generic pen now and then. I’m so sorry this has been your experience with other subs.

      3. To Dee: I work as a substitute teacher. I am sorry you feel the way you do about substitute teachers. Fortunately, there are some of us who do follow the teacher’s lesson plan and do show respect for teachers’ personal property. Unfortunately, this is how some of us are perceived and what you expressed often gets passed on to other school staff which gives us a bad reputation. As Leslie implied, maybe you should try serving as a substitute teacher one day and you will understand what we have to put up with.

        1. I have been a sub, and now I am a teacher. Just like any job there are great subs and terrible subs. I always tried to do exactly what the teacher left, and I got called back quite often. I have had subs who just let the kids do whatever they wanted and never touched the work I left for them to do. If you honestly try to do what the teacher left, thank you! If you think you are just there to babysit, you need to look for another job. Also, the teacher has usually bought all the supplies in the desk out of their own paycheck, so be respectful of their things. You wouldn’t want someone coming into your house and use all of your personal things.

      4. Amen! I just came back to my instructions not followed, so students did assignment incorrectly, a dirty room,a broken character pen I got for Christmas left in a pile on my desk, and the packet of work he was supposed to give to a student going on vacation that night for the next two weeks with the post it note still attached. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cover it.

        1. For all you substitute teachers: Thank you for your hard work. When you are in my building, I will help you as much as I can–take misbehaving children into my classroom, help you find work to keep the kids occupied if you run out of what the teacher planned, help you understand what the teacher left, lend you markers, supplies, etc. and I will welcome you to the lounge over lunch and listen to you as one professional to another. We do appreciate you! As for Dee’s comment, I read that to be about the students, not the substitute teachers.

        1. where is professional subbing a thing? :O
          In Czechia, when a teacher is missing, other teachers have to fill in as a paid overtime. But if you didn’t teach any of your regular lessons that week for any reason (e.g. class gone for a field trip) you aren’t getting paid for the substitution. Also for the languages, classes are divided into halves (15 sts), so the easiest thing when a teacher is missing is putting the groups together (so you are teaching 30, half of which you do not know, are not prepared for and who often are a lesson ahead or behind your regular group. also as a part of your normal job).

      1. Haha, I would rather have my arm cut off than take leave. Are you a teacher? Because another teacher would never reply in such a way. We know all the planning it takes just to leave one day.

        1. Absolutely true, Nola! We generally have to contact a sub ourselves from the system data bank and plan everything for them. Taking a personal day is a stressor.

          1. Yes, taking a day was insanely horrible. I would work deathly sick to save that day for my sick child. I could never have survived working in such a highly stressful school environment w/o my mother & mother-in-law helping me with my own sick children. It was a horrible situation.

      1. My last sub didn’t give the assignment to two of the 6 classes. I also am missing 3 calculators. My principal replied, We were having trouble just finding a “warm body”

    2. Sorry about your loss but a little tip always have extra lesson plans and assignments or work sheet for an emergency or a rainy day.

  5. Paying attention to a hobby, conversation with friends not at the workplace, exercise (even a short walk around the neighbourhood), a good book, a new recipe to try, all these are ways to rejuvenate during the work week. On the weekend I try not to bring the job home with me.

    1. I wish I could not bring the job home with me! I spend 8-10+ hours every weekend lesson planning. I’ve become a runner, and that’s the thing that keeps me going. Taking a simple 2 mile run rejuvenates my soul.

    2. Yes, at weekends I TRY NOT to take work. Or if I have to, I never work on saturdays. On fridays I’ m used to go dancing or, at least, I listen to live music. I go for a walk, I swim, except during winter because the water is tremendously cold. And I sleep! A lot! I work according to priorities. But yes, in spite of these strategies, I feel really tired. Paper work! In my country, bureocracy is driving teachers crazy. It’s insane the amount of forms we have to fiil in, the emails we have to read and repply, the tests we have to correct, the worksheets we have to create, according to the profile of the class. Our students are getting less and less autonomous, more and more arrogant, they miss classes very often, their parents cannot control them and it is up to us, teachers, to solve the situation. Moreover, unfortunately, teachers don’ t support teachers. Behind a defamation or an Intrigue against a teacher, there is always another teacher. I used to go to school full of energy. I used to reinvent strategies so that my students could be more motivated and learn more. I wanted to prepare them for the future as citizens. One day someone, a sociopath, built up a malignant web around me. Just because I was known as “the cool teachers whose students learn”. I also was responsible for the Theatre club and we had been doing a great job for 15 Years. Performing helped students to face their fears and express themselves. Till one day. The old principal went away. The new one didn’t know me. So, I step aside. I talked to her about “that” defamation”, she didn’ t care. Then I wrote a report with everything I did to the other “bosses”, and, as I had my students’ support, I won. However, I have never forgotten. I used to be happy. Now I trust noone. I became then the perfect victim of a sociopath (a parent) and the effects are still in my head and my body. And suddenly, sometimes, I don’ t want to go to school anymore. Teaching is one of the toughest jobs in the world. But nowadays we are less important than virtual schools, video games, the media. We are in extinction. And I changed. I use new technologies in classroom. When I say not to, my students respect it. If they don’t, I talk to them. But I am more formal, distant and cold. I care about myself. Pysically and emotinally. At weenkends I am a normal citizen. No paper work, no emails, no worries. I havê survived till now. Yesterday night I had fun. Now, I am going to the beach. Thanks for the article. It arouses something inside me I have forgotten: strenght. So, be brave. Do your job. Think about priorities. But love yourselves. You are human beings.

      1. It’s a good article…I can relate also to the teaching situation of Madam Ema da Silva..It helps me a lot…Thank you.

  6. I walk in the evening. When I’m too tired to walk (just once this long winter), I don’t. I go to bed. I take 36 continuous hours off during the weekend — no work, just family (wife, daughters, granddaughters). The longer I keep these commitments, the easier they are to keep.

    1. As I’m reading these (on a Saturday) I’m dreading that I need to get working on my report cards because they won’t magically get done on their own. There’s no way I can take weekends off. I wish I could, I envy you, but I can’t.

  7. Your article makes total sense. I have so much less energy than I did when I had an 8-5 job. I just thought it was the extra hours, but the part about control and emotions was right on the mark. I spend extra quiet time in the school garden by myself when I can. I helps me decompress.

  8. We may not build houses, but the other challenges listed is something we do deal with on a regular basis. Other than that, this article makes complete sense. Most people don’t have any idea what we as educators go through on a daily basis.

  9. Come on. Draw such a high salary with the most number of protected time other jobs don’t offer. And still can complain. Then don’t be a teacher, become a cleaner then u will know what’s the real “tired”

    1. As I told a lawyer who said if I wanted to know what is wrong with teachers, just go to McDonald’s on Grand Ave., “you do not know what you are talking about”
      and hung up on him.

    2. There is always that one that has no idea what they are talking about. Interesting job recommendation to be a cleaner, guess who cleans my classroom, me, the teacher!

    3. Strider. You obviously have not been a teacher. I taught high school for 34 years. This article is right on. I spent 9-10 hrs per day in school, then
      2-3 hrs at home grading papers and preparing for the next day and also working many weekends. High salary? Time off / unemployed in the summer. A number of career changers in my school lasted between one week and one semester before quitting. I retired 14 yrs ago and have occasional bad dreams about the hassles from every side. Then
      realize I don’t have to put up with this anymore.! Try being a guest speaker for one day in a teacher’s class. One of my guest speakers asked me where I get the energy from to teach all day.

    4. I came from my country 22 years ago, and I worked in anything I could from restaurants to offices, even distributing Phone books, and yes I was tired some days. I have been teaching for 15 years now I some days I go home like if I was in a bull fight. The stress is real and the pay is not that high. Teachers are the lowest paid professionals in the U.S. In my district our salary was frozen for 8 years. We have the choice of changing careers but at this point we will be rookies in their forties,if we get hire at all.

    5. Having been a cleaner to put myself through school in order to become a teacher, I can assure you that I did not know what tired was until I taught in a classroom. The Tired that I experienced as a cleaner was a physical exhaustion and enabled me to sleep very well at night. The tired I experience as a teacher is far more complex and far and away exceeds the exhaustion I felt as one who cleaned for a living. Do not dismiss the tired you feel as a cleaner, but do NOT presume to understand the exhaustion that teachers feel daily.

    6. You don’t think teachers clean too? Hahahaha. Custodians are great, but teachers also have to clean their rooms! If I want my class rug vacuumed, I do it. If I want student desks wiped down to kill the flu, strep, stomach bug germs, I do it. If my sink is a mess and needs cleaning, I do it. If my room needs dusting, I do it. If desks needs to be changed due to student behaviors, I do it. (And so on) Then, there’s planning, grading, creating resources, locating resources, meetings, professional development, observations, seminars, interventions, data tracking, conferences, parent phone calls and emails, student counseling due to family problems, and don’t forget teaching WITH enthusiasm! No one has time to plan for a sub! Nonteachers have no clue!

      1. Yes! I was told by a parent that it was my job to make his child do his work! His responsibility? Nothing . A student bigger than me- 7th grade with no aid and autism. Because he is bored, it was my fault. Never mind the fact that ALL he does at home is play video games to keep out of mom and dad’s hair. What a daily stressor with this student! The other students even realize the travesty of this situation. They are sooo tired of a class devoted entirely to managing this student. Oh but that’s just 1 of my 120 students I see daily with problems galore….

    7. What high salary!? I teach in Florida and believe me, our salary is not high!!! That is exactly what people think…. I invite you into a classroom for a week at our salary and see how stressed and tired you get!

    8. Do you understand we are only paid for the days we work? We don’t get paid for our summer, winter, and spring breaks! We also aren’t paid to work before 7:45, past 3:00, on weekends, or holidays…but we do! Give me a break.

        1. I often accompanied students (one or more) on overnight trips such as the International Science and Engineering Fair which was a week long. I was expected to be “on duty” so to speak for 24 hours/day while I was with the student(s) keeping tabs on them and making sure they were where they were supposed to be and so on. You know, I never received a single penny extra for the time over my seven hour contract day, and all the lesson plans that had to be made in advance for a week’s worth of classes (chemistry and AP chemistry) which make me exhausted just thinking about it now even after being retired for seven years. A nice thank you note along with a small gift, even if it was a small plate of chocolate chip cookies) would have been nice, but never got anything like that.

      1. That is the definition of salary compensation. You do know that you can choose to pro-rate your salary so that it is evenly divided over 12 months or 52 weeks, right? That way you can still receive paychecks over summer vacation and Christmas break, etc…
        Regarding the overall article, I agree. I am not a teacher, but come from a family of teachers and administrators. Imo, the never ending government paperwork has had detrimental effects on education.. Teaching is an art, a gift, a calling. Teachers in 2017 have been forced to become government paper pushing bureaucracrats. One cannot serve 2 masters and live. You can serve your muse or serve the bureaucracy. You can’t successfully do both.

    9. Oh, wow! Just an average: 9 hours per day (with students) + 2 hours per day cleaning our rooms, getting ready for the next day + 3 hours speaking, texting, emailing parents per week, + weekend hours, a minimum of 1 hour after we get home to continue grading, reading students’ work + lesson planning that can take a few hours depending on your campus and district expectations for that + 20 hour of professional development that is required on off clock time. We also have to complete online testing for security, testing standards, English Lang. Learner training, etc. all on our own time. And we musn’t forget all of the new technology we are required to learn, bring to our classroom, and teach the kids. Then of course there are the student’s home lives that break our heart and we carry that hurt home every night trying to figure out the best way to teach them. Summer vacation for most teaches is a joke. Many, many teachers take second jobs partially to make up for the money we spend on classroom supplies, snacks for hungry students, student supplies, etc. “The Education Market Association says that virtually all teachers wind up paying out of pocket for supplies, and it’s not chump change, either. On average, most spent nearly $500 last year, and one in 10 spent $1,000 or more. All told, a total of $1.6 billion in school supply costs is shifted from parents — or, increasingly, from cash-strapped districts — onto teachers themselves.” So just a very rough estimate of my time and money spent to do my job, I make about $12 an hour. Plus we still have family and life issues just like any other human being. You dear sir are an ignorant man.

      1. You are so right. I’ve never read a more accurate statement about teaching . I taught first grade for 32 years and have now been retired 6 years. I sub 2-3 days a week. After 30+ years teaching, I made $62,000 a year. As a sub I’m paid $90 a day. After taxes, I make about $60. That won’t even buy a nice sweater anymore. Teachers do not make the money they deserve because they aren’t valued by their communities as they should be. When you add up all the extra hours we work, we don’t even make minimum wage. This is so wrong! As professionals we should be one of the highest paid individuals in the United States!!

    10. Strider – I challenge you to teach (you can pick the grade level and/or subject) for a week. By yourself. Then tell me about “protected time” (certainly not prep time which gets eaten up FAST during the day), or days off (we only get paid for the days we work), or the days we spend cleaning up (yup we do that) when there’s crap all over the floor, sticky desks, messy coat closets. Custodial services have been cut waa-ay back, friend. I kept a vacuum in my room and vacuumed every morning, as well as mopped the tile and scrubbed out the sink. With all due respect, anyone with a college degree has already “cleaned” their way through a 4 yr degree and could do it in their sleep.
      I retired from teaching last June bc of stress.
      I wish I’d taken a daily kick boxing class instead. Yes, I love yoga & massage, but sometimes one needs to kick the sh*t outta something, and scream LOUD bc you’ve been censored and mashing down your feelings all day. It takes a toll. It cost me my vocation.
      So, anyway, I have $100 that says you can’t make it a week in a classroom. Lemme know when you have that lined up, ok?

    11. “such a high salary?”
      Are you serious?

      If I became a cleaner, at least my work would be done when I left work. Teachers not only have a stressful day, but they also have to bring work home. They are accountable for standardized testing (which a cleaner is not) . They have to parent (which a cleaner does not). They have to be accountable to parents (which a cleaner does not).

      I don’t think I need to go on further.

  10. During my lunch break I look at pictures of adorable bunnies and other cuties, then I go home to the real thing. Pets always understand, and who doesn’t feel better petting a bunny?

  11. Thanks! This article made me feel better. Because after I had finished checking papers and planning the next day’s lessons, I would just go to bed. I received my elementary/middle school teaching degree at the age of 51, after my farmer husband died. I would have been financially better off getting a business degree because of my past work experiences. I had been a waitress, worked in a factory, worked at a grocery store, worked in direct and retail sales, managed an advertising company and owned / managed my own retail shop. I loved my retail shop but knew that it was not realistic since my health insurance was through my husband’s job. Besides I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives. I received my ideal teaching job as a middle school social studies teacher but my rural school closed after a couple of years. I now substitute teach and find it just as exhausting. And unless I have a long term substitute position, I do not even have to bring home paperwork. Because of the public’s judgmental attitude toward teachers, I am considering looking for another job. Public schools need the public to support teachers not denigrate them.

  12. Exercise is best. A colleague and I used to walk everyday during lunch, but since we are now in seperate buildings we sent supportive messages via school mail and we share chocolate.

  13. Exercising and cooking listening (…and dancing !) to your favorite music helps a lot!
    My little Susie became my student when I was the only Algebra teacher in her campus. That school year, she became my defender at all cost. She realized how much I enjoyed teaching, but also she noticed all the paper work and duties I am responsible for at the same time. The moment my husband said: “I don’t understand why you come home so tired!”, he got a good lecture from my daughter.
    Yes!

    1. You see, the problem here is that nobody has said anything about other people’s jobs or chosen professions, so relax. Fact is, teachers get ripped on daily for just about EVERYTHING from non teaching folks. I simply do not understand. Maybe this summer as I am lounging in my pool for two months, you can come by and we can talk about it. Oh snap! That’s right, you’ll be working. Sucks to be you! Lol!

  14. I teach exercise classes three times a week and take tai chi twice a week. I play piano and sing songs that make me happy, I stretch 4 or more mornings a week. I also sing in the choir and am a deacon at my church. All of that helps me find balance and let the stress go!

  15. I have been a teacher since 1974. Your article is spot on. Paradoxically, teachers look younger than their peers in other professions. I wonder whether it is because we spend so much time around youngsters or because we rarely sit down. Sure, kids can be trying sometimes, but dealing with bureaucracy is what really tires me out.

    1. I hear you. And as tired as we are, there are a lot of benefits, especially to our health. On our feet all day, busy, even our short lunches prevent us from spending an hour at a restaurant a few days a week.

  16. One thing I do sometimes is come home from work and take a nap before dinner. I live by myself so I have time to calm my nerves and relax before I have to eat. Nights are long as I have papers and tests to grade, so this helps me have more patience when grading and to stay awake.
    Thank you so much for the article today. It was so encouraging and helped me to feel better as a teacher. I often feel exactly as you described with your words today and too often feel like I blew it or the day was a bomb.

    1. Any day I feel like I bombed (and it happens quite a lot), I remind myself that I did more for my students today than most adults will do for kids who are not their own in a month.

      1. So TRUE! As teachers, we should rest our minds each evening, knowing that we have impacted at least one young mind in some positive way. I try to remind myself and coworkers that what we do for the students is the real reason we keep teaching. All whimsical new incentives can make us crazy, but keep your mind and heart on the real reason you show up at school each day – the kids – you ‘ve got to love them!

  17. Honestly I feel like teaching in an Elementary School is for the young! The older I get, the harder it is for me to keep up! I literally put in 10 hour days , commute an hour each way and bring work home! Most days I can’t eat lunch! I would love to be able to manage the stress better….if only I wasn’t so tired, lol. Oh wait, that’s where I was supposed to give an idea…..I’m coming up empty-handed!

    1. I totally agree. I didn’t think about how it would be when I was older when I chose this profession. I started at 22 and am now 59. I definitely don’t get much done in the evenings anymore except rest up for the next day. Then work on my “to do” list on the weekends. It’s probably this way with all jobs. But there is no down time during the day. We even work through our 20 minute lunch break.

  18. I got my degree in Early Childhood Education 4 years ago. I have been working as a substitute because I have had anxiety about everything in this article. I worked so hard to get my degree and somehow I have lost my confidence in my ability to take on teaching full time. I am great at subbing and have gained the trust and respect from other teachers who personally request me to sub for them. Now I am telling myself I am too old to be a real teacher, 57! The real teachers need to have a great , supportive substitute that follows their lesson plans, loves their students, and leaves detailed notes about how the day went, and also leaves a clean and organized classroom. Am I selling myself short or being realistic?

    1. I think it depends on how much you need a pension! You might surprise yourself by taking on your own classroom. Once you bond with those children, it changes everything. At least, it did for me.

    2. Mary…I am blessed to have a couple substitute teachers who do love my students and go above & beyond majority of subs would even think of. They may not be certified,; however, these Supportive subs ARE real teachers! Thank you for being a supportive sub!

    3. Oh, God bless you! An excellent sub – one who “gets it,” one who can step in seamlessly to the classroom while the “regular teacher” is home sick, etc., is a gift from heaven!! If you are most comfortable subbing, then stay with that. You will be in high demand, receive high praise and our undying gratitude. p.s. Age doesn’t matter. Professionalism does! xoxoxoxo

    4. You are selling yourself short. I got my teaching degree when I was 55., subbed for 5 years before I finally got a permanent position and have been teaching for 3 years now. You do the math. I go home at night exhausted, grade papers or plan before bed and usually work on weekends. I sometimes even dream of grading papers or ways to improve my teaching. I teach summer school and take required PD seminars instead of vacations. I do not plan on retiring until my body or mind gives out. What keeps me going is not the money (that’s a joke) but it’s the kids. They keep me going back. If you became a teacher in your 50’s and have a positive subbing experience then you are already where your heart is happy, but a permanent position was your goal. I ask you, has that changed?

  19. It is Friday night. I worked until 6, yet the kids left at 2:45. Same all week. I could work for 8 hours x four days to get ready for Monday, but…that until I can warp time, that is not going to happen. Not counting getting ready for Tuesday. Thank you for this article.

  20. If “something” needs to be fixed (changed and controlled by the administration). It is always teachers because we are controllable. Parents, students, and/or school boards cannot be controlled. Teachers are like caged animals with all outside poking at us.

  21. Your article was spot on and I think there was so much more you could have even added. I’m teaching 31 years and It’s a struggle to balance teaching and family. So often our families and personal relationships are impacted when we are always so tired and it shouldnt! On my way home in the car I reflect, pray and thank Our Lord for giving me the strength. When I get home I play some feel good music that makes me happy. I’m also guilt I’d so times pouring myself a glass of wine, but just one!

  22. This article is very insightful. Over the years different things have helped me. Exercise, hobbies, singing, prayer, Bible study- doing something not related to school that helps others also helps. Thanks for taking time to help an important segment of the population.

  23. This article is very insightful. Over the years different things have helped me. Exercise, hobbies, singing, prayer, Bible study- doing something not related to school that helps others also helps. Thanks for taking time to help an important segment of the population.

  24. As I took off one day for a wedding in another state for my brother in law and returned late at night (airport misplaced a bag so an extra hour later than planned) then had my co teacher call at the airport to let me know she had a doctor appt the next day so I wouldn’t be able to see the student receiving FAPE services until my planning period. I was assigned coverage for another class during planning and then taught my two self contained spec ed history (govt/us history) in two different classrooms. Then had to start reviewing data for the iep team and RTI on failing students. This week was also parent conferences in Thursday from 5-7. I still haven’t finished analyzing the data for the two SLO (student learning objectives) I needed to submit yesterday. Yep my weekend is booked.

  25. I am working with many teachers pursuing National Board Certification. One candidate, completing her last entry this year, and who will surely pass given the scores of her first three components, said to me that she thinks she has two years left of teaching. She is exhausted. The work itself she loves, and she is good at it. But the hours she spends outside of the classroom planning, giving feedback to students on their work that can be used to strengthen learning, and the many additional requirements that have been added to her list, has become overwhelming. She is not alone. In this country, our teaching schedule and load has beecome overwhelming. In this country, teachers spend 80% of the time in the classroom with students. In other countries, this time is much less. The time not in front of students is used to collaborate with peers, analyze student work, plan for engaging lessons and activities, communicate with parents and learners, and so much more. I believe that if the educator schodule was more aligned to the actual job, we would have teachers that are less tired at the end of the day, which would improve the quality of teaching, and encourage more bright young people to pursue teaching as a career choice. Public school education is one of the foundations of this country and we need to advocate for working conditions that allow our great teachers to stay in the classroom throughout their careers, and not burn out through exhaustion.

    1. Yes! I agree with this comment 110%!
      22 years in as a middle-school teacher.
      Love my students and love teaching;
      can’t abide the extraneous paperwork that (as another commentator aptly noted adds nothing to my ability as a teacher).
      Exhausted at the end of each day, but generally smiling as I recall the daily laughs and joy spent with these (for the most part) delightful young people! It also helps soooo much to have stellar, supportive colleagues who are also doing an excellent job teaching. The students respect being part of a school where teachers care about them and have high-quality lessons prepared each day.

  26. I am only 29 and for years I worked 10 to 12 hour days and still took planning and correcting home. Not to mention the growing emotional needs of my students who come from low income families. I also. Out burnt out,sk I changed a few things. I know go in a little later and leave earlier. I try to devote 1 or 2 nights to planning/correcting and a few (1-3 hours on the weekend. Otherwise I devote my time to reading, writing, time with my husband, music, or something that makes me feel good. It has helped a lot, but I am still tired, just not as stressed. I understand there are difficult times for every job. However. Teachers seem to be looked down upon as if our job is easy. Compared to other jobs that need similar education we really don’t make much. My mother makes more than me as a factory worker with no college experience. I also do not get paid over the summer. I buy many of the supplies needed for my lessons and while I could take a leave it’s easier not to.

  27. I love what I do. I’m a K1 Special Education teacher. I also know that I need balance in my life. It’s something that my first principal shared with me, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Some days I leave right on time, and my desk is a mess but I know it will be there tomorrow. I go on short trips with my family. My hobbies also help me unwind. There are a lot of outlets that we as teachers use to find our “happy” My students respond to a happy teacher, they don’t care if my lesson plans are perfect or if my desk is clear.

  28. I love to cook. Trying new recipes relaxes me. Of course, I have to cook with my music blasting and a little dancing around my kitchen. After the mental break from school, I can sit down and return to lesson planning and grading with a clearer mind.

  29. Very insightful article and so true! Our teachers work and worry all day.
    Add 25 classrooms, teachers, and parents. Principals are tired too.
    To rejuvenate I spend downtime with family, friends, and golf with my hubs.

  30. You have to take care of yourself. Drink as much water as you can. (Yeah right, and not be able to leave the class for bathroom breaks.) Move your body. I wear a Fitbit that reminds me to get up and move. For me, I work out before school so I can get it done. It helps to have a partner or friend you can trust that will let you vent. Take vitamins to keep help your immunity. Teaching is a hard, exhausting job although it can be highly rewarding. Great article!

  31. Very insightful. I taught high school mathematics for 38 years. I stayed at school until everything was ready for the next day, plans made, papers graded, handouts printed, etc. I also taught an Early Bird Class before school. I am now retired. When I was teaching, I came home every day exhausted. If I sat down (which is what I needed to do), I was gone… asleep. If I needed to get things done, I had to stay up and start working. I would get so upset with myself for not feeling like getting things done at home.

  32. For a few years, I filled in for a janitor position in another building of my school, about 3 hours each day after teaching first grade all day. Whew, talk about tired! The extra income was nice, but I was exhausted.

  33. I taught for 35 years. I retired because “I had other lives to lead.” I had a purpose in my teaching of English, Each generation must work toward its end. I graded millions of papers, listened to the same in discussions and I continue to enjoy students and their insights to today’s world. Teaching others is never easy and the quest to do it best is always a quest to celebrate happiness in our lives.

  34. I feel so much compassion for teachers’ plight and know that most teachers work tirelessly, pay for many of their own materials and ache with worry about the children they can’t reach, the parent who is angry at them for any number of reasons or the unsupportive administrators that too often have either forgotten or never had to manage the stream of consciousness called teaching. We need you- our children need you- but self-care is critical to mitigating the cascade of stress. Check out mindfulness- those of us that advocate the work are making some big differences for teachers’ well being. Take a look at what we are doing in Michigan at http://www.mc4me.org or at this recent publication about how teachers and their students are helped by the work:
    http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/when_teachers_get_mindfulness_training_students_win

  35. Huh now know why I am so tired at the end of a day there are reasons behind it other than I teach kids, young ones at that. To feel less tired I exercise, I can’t say I enjoy it but it does switch my mind to something else other than the 100 things I should have done differently that day at work.

  36. I think on of the new term I hear now is that more and more teachers are unable to retire in this profession. When I was you and fit thru my 40’s I survived, but once I hit my 50’s it was a game changer. The new demands of teaching with age took its toll. I quickly understand why teachers can’t retire anymore. Teachers that move into administrative positions can retire with much higher retirement returns. The majority left to compete with all the new demands of teachers today really need to prepare for a tough road as you age. The stamina needed is just not there no matter what you do. I love my children, look forward to the everyday. They are not the problem compared to everything else. Parents are getting savvy to working the system too. They know public schools and administrators are becoming more aware of satisfying them, and teachers are about the only scapegoat right now.

  37. I’m a PT art teacher at a private school. You’d think my day would be filled with fun projects, and hey, I ONLY work 30 hours per week. At a swanky private school no less (really, no, a broke Catholic one). I actually make $10,000/year (yes, you heard me right) and I work from the moment my own two pre-teens get on their bus until they are in bed each night. If I am not prepping for art projects, I am researching ideas. I teach PreK – 8th, which even thinking about the age switch is exhausting. Being the art teacher I am expected to maintain anything remotely creative in the school (signs, bulletin boards, theater sets, helping prep for other teachers’ projects…) and am asked for time-demanding favors on a daily basis. I spend way too much of my own money on art supplies each year, as my yearly budget is near nil. Along with the various duties I am required to help out with (recess, lunch, bus…), a huge yearly art show is expected, which usually takes up both of my after-Christmas “vacations”. Too, I provide our local library with art showcases four times per year, which are a huge endeavor on their own. To top it all off, I am usually not thought of when teachers do their teacher thing (unless it’s totally unrelated PD I have to participate in). Many teachers consider my class “fun” or “easy”, and I am merely a supply closet to them. I share my art room with a math teacher, so prep and clean-up need to be done each day with little storage room for on-going projects. Our floor is concrete…my back and bones are aching all.the.time. (and I’m only in the start of my 40’s). I go home each evening to make my family dinner, listen to their days at the table, then clear it off to start my art prep for the next day. I feel like I can never get ahead. As much as I love my students, and am fortunate to work with ALL of them each year, I truly don’t know how much longer I can sustain this career. Physically and mentally I am drained and have no inkling of creative anything left for me.

    1. Unfortunately, your story is identical to many. We teach because we love the kids. PERIOD. And we do the best we can. It takes a special person to be a teacher year after year! Thank you!

    2. So now we’re supposed to feel sorry for you because you have to make dinner for your family after work?

      WOW! The stress of being a teacher! No other job on the PLANET is busy all day and then has to make dinner for their family AND listen to them talk about their clearly inferior day.

    3. You give too much and it’s burning you out. It won’t solve all of the problems above, but you have to start telling people no. They might be surprised at first, but you will gain their respect when you set boundaries.

  38. I try to walk 20 minutes in the halls before I leave school. This helps me wind down and make that transition from “school mind” to “mom/wife mind”. If I can’t walk right after school I try to do some exercise as soon as I get home. This has helped me a lot this year. But, to be honest, there are some days where that doesn’t help. I think finding some time to just be alone is important also. That is hard with little ones!

  39. Commuting to work 30 minutes each way was a stress reliever. In the morning, I organized my thoughts, gave myself a pep talk, and sang along to the radio. On the way home, I was able to decompress. I would not recommend this to people in congested traffic areas or longer than 30 minutes because that causes more stress. I also know several teachers who lived close by who walked to work. This allowed exercise plus time alone to decompress. From experience, the “30” in the 30 minute commute is the Goldilocks number, not too long, not too short.

    I also spend lots of time “doing nothing” on the weekends which my family members do not understand. They don’t understand why my favorite thing to do on Friday night now is simply to go to bed (and not be woken up early on Saturday morning) . I think because I don’t have to make any decisions, don’t have to protect anyone from bullying, don’t have to be “on stage” making content edu-taining, and don’t have to critically read and make constructive feedback on essays. Of course, I still have occasional dreams about school situations and some are nightmares.

  40. Added to all of that is when they use all the itinerants to for small group testing which means that you lose your ONLY planning period and potty break. I’m dehydrated and double exhausted. It’s truly amazing that we are expected to go all day long with only a 20 min lunch (30 min – 10 for travel and restroom). No other profession would ever allow that!

    1. Oh Kara, I know! Back in the 60’s we had a hour for lunch. I lived close by and went home. I was watching TV at home the day I saw Jack Kennedy get shot. Some teachers opted to go to a restaurant during their hour. In the 70’s the lunch break was shortened to 45 minutes. In the 90’s it was shortened to 30 minutes and as you know, by the time you get the kids settled in the lunch room, stop at the john, and reach for your sandwich, there is only 20 minutes left….if that. I blame administrators who just don’t get it.

  41. I keep on finding humor and sunny sides of each kid ….. each assignment ….
    once i plunge into the realm of gratitude ….. tiredness is gone … but it takes a lot of patience
    willpower but loving

  42. I teach third grade. I’m sitting wrapped up in a blanket on the couch winding down from the day… so tired every night!

  43. I don’t find the joy in it. It makes me sad and angry instead. I cannot do for kids what I know they need and I should be doing. I despise being part of the deception that what is happening is what is best. If I could afford to teach in a private school I would. This career is not fulfilling. It is more humiliating and insulting more than anything. I am too old to leave. I’m held hostage by the cost of living. But I’m miserable. Really miserable.

    1. I understand. I don’t have a solution but I hope knowing someone understands will give your spirits a little boost.
      When I first started teaching I had 40 third graders in my classroom. They sat still and paid attention. I taught! They learned!
      Nowadays the kids come last. So much record keeping. So much interference from Administrators who want to make a name for themselves. So much only for the purpose of impressing the public.
      Hang in Paula. Just do your best. Tell the kids you love them.

  44. I think what gets to me most is that there is never a quiet space to go and recollect your thoughts or to just reflect or prepare for the next lesson. Every single space is taken and it is noisy everywhere. I know I work with small children but I just cannot think clearly with all the noise pollution. So I often hide in the toilet just to kind of ‘breathe’ and not go crazy. Also, I am on an 75% teaching schedule but find there is no time during the course of the day to check email. So I often reply to email after school hours and work longer hours than my roommate who is on a full schedule. I agree all the administrative work on top of teaching is draining my energy tremendously. When I first started teaching many moons ago, we didn’t have to develop the curriculum we just had to execute it. Now we are busy rewriting the curriculum and over complicating basic and natural developmental stages with over thinking and fancy wording. We didn’t have emails to check or reply to within 24hours, or stacks and stacks of accreditation work or policies to revise. If I could I would rather spend ALL my energy on my kids and planning or preparing exciting activities for them. But now I’m too tired to be my best for them and guess who is suffering? Them and me!!!

  45. I’m retired now. I look back at my days in the classroom. I was tired a lot. It used to take about 2 weeks of summer break before I felt rested again. Why tired? I think it was the mental gymnastics of trying to reach each and every child and find a way to help each one succeed.

  46. Essential oils…seriously. Peppermint for energy and headaches. Diffusing oils in my classrPom helps the mood and energy levels of both my students and myself. OnGuard boosts my immune system so I don’t get sick as often. And take the time for exercise, yoga and meditation.

  47. Hi! 15 year teacher here. I also think we are tired at the end of the day because we are “on” the whole time. We are in front of people, interacting with people, talking, communicating, expressing, listening–6-7 hours a day. That takes a lot out of you! We are pouring out into others. It’s important to take time to fill back up!!! Otherwise–burnout!!

  48. Not to mention how many of those decisions and worries are taking place at the exact same time in our brains throughout the day!

    “That student is off task; oh, the mom of that kid whose failing just emailed; crap I forgot to turn in that form for the club event!; is that student getting the accommodations?; I still need to finalize the quiz for tomorrow; did that kid just cuss?…” all in a brief moment times 7+ hours a day AND always be on point in front of students.

    I get all jobs are work and can be exhausting. Sometimes I wonder if people truly have any real idea how over processed a teacher’s brain is at any given point throughout the day.

    I agree, exercise is key but we all know how difficult that is when you have a stack of papers, lessons, and emails waiting to be completed.

    Enlightening article. Thanks for writing. Now, how to get the decision makers to read and empathize with it…

  49. I taught for 39 years. What helped me most was shower the minute I hit the door. Great body and mind cleanser. Then I was ready for “my time”.

  50. Ever fall asleep at lunch in front of your computer because your conference period just isn’t enough time to get stuff done? We have two kids in college. One in nursing school the other med school. What teachers get off at 3:00? My wife and I are both teachers, myself middle school, she teaches high school. We own a professional sports photography company. Hours start after school and on the weekends so we can occasionally eat steak. You want exercise? Get self-employed after school.

  51. Wow it makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one- but it makes me feel sad that there are so many of us that are so exhausted.
    I’m have only been teaching for 4 years and I’m already re training for my text career.
    If I was to break down the teaching into a percentage the ‘teaching’ is only 20% of the job. 50% is emails, making, paperwork and other admin; 20% is meetings; 10% planning.
    No one talks about work like balance, everyone expects that you will mark over the weekend. No one believes you have a life- even the students.
    As much as I see the negatives probably more than ever. I’m still glad a became a teacher. A smile on a child face is priceless and to know you made a difference in one small child life is incredible.
    But I am done- I don’t like the person or teacher I’m becoming. I’m exhausted, negative, and ready for a change.

  52. Finishing up year 28. I’ve been a junior high school band director in a Texas public school. Teaching band really does mean you are “on” every second of every class period. Over the years, I’ve done many things to keep my real life, and the job seperate. Exercize helps. I became a massage therapist 25 years ago; now it is my well paying hobby that is totally different from school. I’ve done yoga, meditation, watsu, and alcohol offers an appealing retreat.

    I suppose denial has always truly been the coping mechanism I have relied on the most. That mental fortitude thing that lets me tell myself, I’ve got this…..even while, as I have aged, my physician began to hint that perhaps my blood pressure might be telling a different story.

    Enter hypertension, and anxiety, along with medical attempts to remediate. For about 7 years now I have joked I’m taking enough high blood pressure medication, it’s a miracle I’m vertical. Then along comes summer, and the right medication mix is over the top too much, and I’m barely conscious with a bp of 95/55. Could be I’m experiencing some job related stress. And alas, with age, my favorite strategy of denial just isn’t working.

    Oddly, the stress isn’t related to the students. Okay, maybe some. But watching students learn and grow, that’s the fun part. Stress is the ridiculous CEU’S, giving up my confidence period to go sub for someone because these past few years our school never seems to have enough subs, answering emails, phone calls, useless mandatory online trainings, 15 minutes extra we work each day of the year so the kids get extra days off, and we sit through useless training (did I mention we aren’t getting paid for the extra time?), instrument repair, building use requests, event scheduling, concert seating charts for 170 person band…….etc You get the idea.

    And yes, at the end of the day, I’m exhausted. Worse yet, I’m finding that the filter between my brain and my mouth has eroded with age. Then I watch the news, or read the news, and notice politicians again seeking to mess up the retirement I’ve worked so many years for, and watch as school vouchers are again slithering out from under their slimy rock. Yup, education takes a lot of will power.

    I’m curious to see the ideas you offer. I suppose I hadn’t considered why I was so tired at the end of the day. It has just been the way things were.

  53. 1. Don’t bring your ‘ teaching’ home. Avoid continuing to talk about your students, worries…in your private life.
    2. Don’t use your breaks to do corrections or stuff related to work.
    3. Develop a sense of humour and ease in class. Teachers sometimes get too caught up in dramas in classroom and take some things too seriously. Some things are serious but a lot of things are silly. Try to be humorous and light.
    4. Do 5 min of yoga with the kids before starting the class, its good for them and for you too.
    5. Be yourself in class, bring in the best and most fun quirky parts of your personality and encourage the kids to be themselves too. Talk about your passions, your experiences, be human with the kids and your colleagues.
    6. Be aware that your not a good. You have limited power in a student’s life. Do your best care, but keep in mind not all responsibility falls on you.you need to know when to worry and when to detach.
    7. Eat healthy lunches during your breaks, not sugar an coffee. Be good to yourself. If possible, get out, go for a walk, don’t sit in your phone.

  54. I think being prepared is such an important part of the day to cut down on stress and make my classes run more smoothly. I notice this year a lot of teachers using essential oil dispensers in their room to add calming smells like lavender and peppermint. I add lighting in my room that is a little more relaxing and I turn off half of my harsh overhead lights. I teach art (middle school), I have Pandora on during studio time and and choose a new genre each day. Often Jazz and coffee shop music. I am at year 14 in my career, Although switching states has me back at year 7 toward my retirement climb. But in these years I have learned to say NO, and stand up for myself a little more. Art teachers take on a lot of “projects” that are school related outside of the classroom. I also go home and although I have stood at carpool for 40 minutes in some crazy conditions I work out 5 times a week. I eat well, and make sure I get out and do some fun things on weekends with family and friends. We are constantly with people during our job which leaves me to want some down time on the weekend with my art or reading and family. I don’t have the answer on how to reduce stress and be less tired because we perform all day on a stage, but I do think some of the above might help. Making your room your home away from home and filling it with things that make your heart happy.

  55. Do yoga or exercise everyday. Take full interest in what you’re doing and enjoy it.when we enjoy our work, we got less tire. And eat properly,specially take protien rich diet. Drink lots of water.

  56. As a middle school teacher, I used Friday afternoons/evenings to stay at school for planning and grading. I tried to stay no later than 1 1/2 hours during the week to get ready for the next day. I did not carry paperwork home! During planning period, what we called our time off during the day, I worked with fluorescent lights off, creating a calming silence. This was rejuvenating for me during the school day, and meant there were fewer interruptions.

  57. Teaching your class, (day job)
    planning, entering data and marking, (night job) as well as belonging to a Year Level teaching team and managing high needs, individualistic students, all adds up to mental fatigue and personal health concerns.

  58. For me , as I arrive home I wash my feet with nice warm water for fifteen minutes . Sometimes I have my favourite type of sandwich .

  59. I am so thankful to you for publishing this. I feel like someone understands me and I feel justified for feeling the ways that I do. You were able to put everything into words that I couldn’t, and you were able to give a scientific/psychological reason for it. I’ll do my best to use some of these ideas to help me. Thank you!

  60. If one is an introvert, the exhaustion factor increases. My releases are meditation and pets (and food, which I wouldn’t advise).

  61. I taught at Universities in Korea and it was the most relaxing teaching job I’ve ever had. 4 months of paid vacation a year, 9 hours of teaching a week (always a three day weekend!) no office hours, barely any meetings, no management, my own office that was huge, no observations or paper-work. It was like a Utopia. Monthly salary wasn’t super high but our apartment/flights were all paid for so no rent or bills.

  62. It’s been 12 years since I left the classroom (after 30+ years of teaching) and I still feel tired! For those of us who live and teach in small communities, even a trip to the grocery store or doctor’s office brings us into contact with students, parents, former students, students’ grandparents , and on and on. While it’s nice to be remembered (and sometimes thanked for having helped little Johnny or Susie) I am returned to past times and the struggles to teach and care of so many students, plus the “Wonder where they are now?” questions. I loved teaching (at least the part where it was just me and my students) but it does drain your emotional tank. It really helps to have an understanding spouse!

  63. I make fewer decisions by having students make more decisions. They do much of their own grading. They set due dates in consultation with me. They establish their workgroups. They decide which problems we do from a menu that I set. They decide what the assignment work output is. They benefit from learning critical thinking and decision making and I benefit because their ownership in our class activities is much higher.

  64. Hi, what I found out in this 21St century there were allot changes occurred in teaching and learning process…. Yet I get tired and exhausted because of my no sense boss and idiotic ego psycho superior…. Who pressure me and given me mental torture as if I have kill his family…. And also stupid and expired Co workers who have no talent in ICT and get jealous of me… These black sheep need to be sacked out of the school so we can teach with getting exhausted and tired.

  65. We have a very close department in the subject I teach. We listen to each other. Chances are, if I have had a bad day, they have too. At the end of those days, honestly, after the good ones too, we meet together and talk about it. We leave our frustration there.

    I also have a 30 minute drive home and I will put a comedy station on Pandora and listen to that. On a particularly bad day, the comedy gets pretty vulgar.

    Both of these help me to not bring my frustration and exhaustion home to my family who still needs me at the end of the day.

  66. A few close colleagues with whom I can discuss problems help to keep me sane. We also laugh a lot.
    At another school, I didn’t have as many friends. I kept a professional journal so that I spent 5-10 minutes at the end of the day noting how each class had gone, what students had acted up, the consequences, what parents I had talked to , etc. I started it as a way to cover my —- but I found it very helpful personally. I saw what went well, I could track where problems came up. Most importantly, I locked it in my desk drawer and left it at school and didn’t take it home with me. I found myself worrying much less because I acknowledged difficulties but them left them at work.

  67. I meditate for at least 20-40 minutes twice every day, with a few 3 minute breathing spaces interspersed throughout. I bring mindfulness into my daily life – eating, listening, being present to whatever I’m doing. I’ve taught mindfulness to other teachers and I go on regular retreats to refresh my practice. Many of the teachers I know now teach mindfulness to their students so the environment they’re working together in is much calmer. Some schools are so keen on mindfulness that they’re offering taster sessions to parents and other members of the local community who are involved with the students. It makes such a difference and within the staff-room, the atmosphere becomes more supportive, less tense & stressed. I think mindfulness, along with those other excellent strategies of yoga, exercise, decompressing with colleagues or partners, walking the dog, singing, good sleep habits – all contribute to keeping me healthy on every level.

  68. Exercise when I get home. Really trying to let certain things go, realize I can’t do anything about them. Knowing the difference between being assertive and aggressive.

  69. 1. Pick a point approximately half-way home.
    2. Yell at your steering wheel until you reach that point.
    3. Arrive home refreshed or at least no more tired than on a normal workday.
    4. Retire. That REALLY helps!

  70. Cooking…..I mean fine dining cooking and lots of music lots. Watching football. Always log off all school related matters at 7pm there is no fire to put out, you’re not the principal!

  71. I try to exercise 3-5 days a week; however, I’m definitely still tired after school. For me though, I’m proud to be tired, I know that sounds odd, but I feel extremely lucky to be doing what I love! It’s the type of exhaustion that I can be proud of, I know that I’m making a difference everyday, and I’m doing my best! It’s understandable that many of us feel frustation when we are lacking energy at the end of the day, but we’ve earned the right to go to sleep at 8 pm during the school week! So to fellow teachers, thank you for all that you do, day in and day out! 😃

  72. Have your thyroid checked! It’s a simple blood test to determine if hypothyroidism is the cause of your chronic fatigue.

  73. I’m quitting with a little over a month to go in order to save my sanity. 12 years in but they’ve kept pushing me closer and closer to the stress induced emotional breakdown that occurred in February of this year. My mental health is 100% more important!

  74. Mindfulness. My co-teacher and I designed and teach a free 8-week course to our colleagues on Mindfulness at the public high school where we teach. The syllabus is posted on my website themindfultoolbox.com and the password for the Mindful Teacher Project is mindfulteacher. It’s pretty self explanatory…it does have some talking points that you will not get, but for the most part you can go through the process on your own or with a group. Also, we would be gland to answer and questions you have or any help you might need.

  75. Go to bed for an hour or 2 when you get home if you are able. Then you can maybe do a little bit more marking etc. I had to do this every day during my first teaching year, and now after 13 years I still have to do it a couple of nights a week. I love my job but am sick of being tired all the time and thinking of leaving….

  76. Teaching is nothing compared to working in mental health. Yes, teaching does make you tired but I think stress is a component of work in general. You dont work nights, weekends, holidays. You dont do 14 hour + shifts working with people with very complex needs. Teaching feels great after coming from that.

  77. In my case, I try to shorten the week by doing some leisure activities. How? Picture this: It’s Monday. The week has just started and you think it’s a long way to the weekend. Well, it’s not! Because on Tuesday you have to go to the gym/running training/dance classes/ or whatever physical activity (there you will meet with the girl/boy you like, the person you like to talking to, etc.). On Wednesday, you’re having dinner with your sisters/friends/co-workers (good beers/wines in between). On Thursday, again gym/running/dancing/whatever. Then, it’s Friday! The weekend has arrived and you didn’t even notice it. Of course, some weeks can be harder than others, but the most important thing is that you make the most of your leisure time. And if you don’t have any time, well make some room in your life. Humanity can pretty much survive without you (at least for a day). Don’t worry. Be happy! 🙂 Oh! One more thing… leave the car at home this time and ride a bike. Feel alive. Regards!

  78. My mother have been suffering from fibromyalgia disease for the last 3 years and had constant pain, especially in her neck,During the first year,she had faith in God that she will be healed someday by the Almighty. This disease started circulate all over my moms body and she have been taking treatment from her doctor, few weeks ago i came on search on the internet if i could get any information concerning the prevention of this disease, on my search i saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from (fibromyalgia) by this man DR Abumere and she also gave the email address of this man and advise we should contact him for any sickness that he would be of help, so i wrote to DR Abumere telling him about my mothers fibromyalgia disease he told me not to worry that my mom is gonna be okay with his herbal remedies!! actually i never believed it,, well after all the procedures and remedy given to me by this man i went to discuss it with my mom and explain everything to her on what she is about to take in,because Dr Abumere told me my mother must stop other medication just to make sure his own work properly,she agreed because this great doctor gave me assurance about his good work.
    Weeks later after my mother start using this herbal medicine she started experiencing changes all over her as the DR assured me that she will cured,after some time i went to her doctor to confirmed if she has finally healed behold it was TRUE, So dear viewers my advise is if you have such sickness or any other at all you can email DR Abumere on: abumereherbalcentre @ gmail. com or visit his websit: www . abumereherbalcentre . simplesite . com
    thank you doctor i will forever be grateful.

  79. Get a life. While I love my job, it’s not the only thing in my life. Cultivate outside interests that periodically take your head out of school stuff. My thing is dancing. It is impossible to think about anything else when you’re dancing.

  80. Boo-hoo. I work 45-50 hours a week, year round, plus coaching multiple sports for both of my kids, and serving at my church. I often am working until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. I do this 50 weeks a year (I get 2 weeks of vacation), and for less than a teacher with 10+ years of service will generally get.

    I don’t want your sympathy, so quit looking for mine. Just teach your 42 weeks a year for 30-35 years, and then enjoy your retirement with your sweet benefits.

  81. So many good ideas. What helps me:
    1: Prayer- not only for me but for my students, their families, and my colleagues. Once in a while I will walk around the room before the kids get there and put my hand on each child’s desk and pray for them. Wish I took the time to do it more often.
    2: I let God talk to me every morning, by reading my Bible. He’s much more patient with students than I am and works with me to see the need more than the misbehaviors.
    3. I attend our mid-week service. Refreshes me for the next 2 days.
    4. Strong coffee! 😉

  82. Debriefing at the end of the day is very helpful…this way we don’t take all the negativity home…makes for healthy working relationships!☕️☕️

  83. Sunshine, diet, excercise, and various other activities can definitely help but don’t underestimate the power of the power nap. The Japanese master it centuries ago. 10-20 minutes of quiet rest time can sometimes be all your brain needs to recharge enough to get you through the day. Be careful not to rest too long though as that can lead to altered sleeping patterns and a variety of other issues.

    Ladies, watch your hormone levels and don’t be afraid to have your doctor check them on a regular basis. Adrenal fatigue is a serious thing that effects countless teachers over the years. Hormone replacement can help but nothing beats true rest (for body, mind, and spirit) and that often means changing lifestyles such as the number of commitments we take on.

    I have learned this the hard way.

  84. If I get up at 5 am BEFORE school, I actually have more energy throughout the day. I also Thrive! Vitamins and good nutrition make a huge difference!

  85. I’m tired and I am NOT a teacher. So sick of teachers always complaining !!!!~!~!!!!!!!!!!!! GET A DIFFERENT JOB IF YOU NEED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!! JUNE IS ALMOST HERE THEN JULY THEN AUGUST. I WILL STILL BE WORKING THOSE MONTHS. PLUS I WORK CHRISTMAS EVE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY (26th) AFTER THANKSGIVING. NO SPRING BREAK FOR ME !!! PLUS THERE ARE SOME FOLKS WHO WORK ON HOLIDAYS !!! ( THANKFUL AT LEAST I GET OFF THESE) QUIT BITCHING ALL THE TIME ! TEACHERS !!!!!!! FUCKIN A . Most people have stressful jobs get over yourselves !!! You think we don’t have to hold back what we say etc. So sick of teachers complaining !!! 7 hours a day!! 1st time a teacher admitted this by the way. . I wish, try 9-11+ . I have to make good decisions all day too and can’t afford to start making bad ones at hour 6 or 7. WAKE UP !!! Get a real job and see how life really is !!!!!!!

    1. There are plenty of former teachers working a “real job” now. I suggest you ask them to compare the two. Also, you sound stressed. Perhaps you should get a different job. You could try teaching!

  86. I’ve had a few teachers who truly influenced my life. I’ve never considered the stress involved in this (what should be) honored profession. I want to send out a big, giant, loving thank you hug to all of the teachers out there who shape, love and influence children and young adults. THANK YOU TEACHERS!!!

  87. Sleep, good relationship, occasional fancy meal out =)
    I teach and haven’t had time for exercise…
    I thought I was the only person feeling all the above problems. Glad I’m normal 😁

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