What it’s like to be new to full-time teaching (at elementary school level)

Picture me sitting behind my desk in my classroom, not feeling capable of walking another step. I just finished a ten hour day at school.

Wait, let me correct that statement right away: The kids just left after 10 hours with me and I still have to plan the next day and answer the new e-mails from parents, colleagues and administration that came in throughout the day. By the time I leave it will be dark and most colleagues, including my boss, will have left.

When I looked at my schedule this morning, I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day. I didn’t actually think I would. I anticipated breaking down and crying at some point.

Now I just finished the last lesson and I’m still holding it together but trying so hard not to cry. For those of you who are teachers, you know why. It’s as easy as that. You are only reading this because you’re an empathetic person. Thank you for that. For those who are not teaches but are genuinely interested in the life of a teacher, here is why I feel nothing but sheer exhaustion:

Dehydration. It’s hard to remember to drink water when it’s “GO, GO, GO!!!“ all day long and you have to look after 18 (sometimes 35) kids at the same time. Something is always more important at the very moment you want to grab your water bottle for just a second.

Sensory overload. It’s like I’ve been in a storm for 10 hours that swirled around me and turned everything into a constant blur. A whole day of being in charge of kids and their wellbeing not only in the classroom, but also in the pool and in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Make sure they learn, subject-specific, socially and emotionally, make sure everyone knows where they need to be at what time of the day, make sure they wash their hands before they eat, make sure they don’t drown during their swimming lessons, make sure to comfort them and listen to them when they cry. (You’d be surprised how many kids cry in a day. I’ve lost count.) In between all of this, call kids’ parents in case of emergencies, big or small.

Low blood sugar levels. I really need to start bringing snacks with me. This afternoon it’s going to be (yet another) run to the drinks machine downstairs to get some sugary coffee into my system to prevent me from crashing.

The scary thought of “Is this going to be my life?!“ 99% of young teachers (that I know) say they are not going to be in this profession for the rest of their lives because it’s physically impossible. I get it. I get it big time.

And last but not least (for those of you who thought this is going to be one big whiny complaint): The genuinely happy and rewarding thought of “I did it! I’m got this! And tomorrow I’ll do it again!“ Teaching kids is one of the freaking toughest jobs in the world. Yes, I really do think so. The people who are teachers and continue to be teachers despite of everything I described above can only be diagnoses as crazy. And you know what? I’m proud to be one of them. The crazy people who put their own needs behind those of the kids, and therefore, society as a whole. I’m not sure how long I’m going to last in this profession but for now, this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do. And one day, when I look back on all of this, I will think: What a ride. 

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