Let’s talk about a little thing I like to call “Teacher Tired.”
As we wave goodbye to February today and say hello to STAAR testing season, I’ve fallen into the slump of being perpetually Teacher Tired. Teacher Tired is a very unique experience (although I do imagine that nurses probably have their own version of it that is admittedly most likely worse).
Teacher Tired is a state nowhere close to sleepy, well beyond exhausted, and quite often mixed with sleep deprivation silliness.
Teacher Tired is the feeling of being beaten by 130 freshmen with questions that could have been answered if they’d just read the directions and knowing you still have an unbelievable amount of work to do when they’re gone.
Teacher Tired is staying up until 11 (an ungodly hour for me) finalizing the station rotation for class and waking up at 5am already exhausted and still somehow putting every ounce your coffee-induced energy into those stations.
Everyone knows what it’s like when your tush hits the couch after a long day of work and the remote falls into your hand and suddenly you’re watching Texas Flip N Move until all of a sudden it’s 9 o’clock and you’re deeply invested in The Lone Wolf and The Snow Sisters. (Or maybe that’s just me…)
Teachers also know what it’s like when your tush hits that couch and your bag full of grading falls into your hand and suddenly you’re reading summaries of articles you’re pretty sure the students didn’t actually read until you fall asleep drooling on Nicole’s perfectly written gibberish.
I really don’t like to whine and moan about how much off-the-clock time teachers are required to put in if they want to come anywhere close to getting everything done, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s constantly on my mind. Even as I sit here after school is over and the students are gone, as I’m thinking about my never-ending to-do list, I keep zoning out, staring at the blank space on my wall where a clever literary term poster used to be before testing season hit, going back and forth between thinking about which stack of papers I should tackled first and how much I would rather turn myself into a blanket burrito and watch a movie.
I guess my point isn’t just to sit here and complain about how exhausted I am, though it does feel nice to do it. I just want to tell all of the other teachers out there who have also been tempted to close the door, curl up under your desk, and take a little nap until the students come back from lunch that we all know how it feels. You are not alone. And the most important thing is to take care of yourself. Teacher Tired can a little too often lead to Teacher Burnout.
It is okay to go to bed at 7pm every now and then.
It is okay to watch Netflix instead of grading every now and then.
It is, however, probably not okay to actually take a nap at work. But, we don’t have to stay two hours after school every single day. Go home when the bell rings, curl up on the couch with your cat, dog, or hamster, and take a nap.
And you know what, sometimes it’s okay to claim food poisoning and take the day off to sleep all day, get caught up on laundry, and watch the Food Network while eating Cheetos. Mental health days are just as important as sick days.
A teacher’s best asset is yourself. Take care of you.