195 Days ’til 40: What Teachers Do in Private

10 Aug

Sometimes I chuckle when I hear students and parents talk about teachers, particularly when they speculate about the personal lives of those who educate them.  I find it so amusing when a teacher meets a student on the street, in a non-school setting.  The child’s eyes get very wide…. they cannot understand how their teacher can be out on the street… the teacher LIVES at school – right?  

So what do teachers/ educators do in private?  Are we symbols of innocence and up-righteous behavior?  Do we wear halos and have hidden wings within our clothing?  Hahaha…. if only they knew…. if only the parents knew what we educators are really like……. yes, the sad, absolutely horrific reality, is that we are……. HUMAN.  Sometimes, perhaps too human for our own good.

When I worked in a small town in the USA we had a staff get-together at a local Mexican cantina about once a month.  Needless to say, we arrived at happy hour and there were lots of Margeritas to go around.  There were morning announcements over the intercom in this school and the staff had to come up with a way to remind everyone that we were meeting for drinks, but without alerting the students…..  They came up with a great solution – during morning announcements they would say, “This is a reminder to staff that POETS is meeting after school today.”  – POETS = “Piss On Everything, Tomorrow’s Saturday.  Yes, GOT to love those teachers – I do!

We laugh, we love, we cry, we get frustrated – we tear our hair out as we prepare to go back to school.  We scream in frustration when we see that a parent who deeply loves their child is making choices that are hurting the child and their educational process…. the parent means well, and we are sad.  We would love to spend our weekends salsa-ing or dancing until the Blues bars close, but more often than not we arrive home on a Friday night so utterly exhausted from giving everything within us to our students that we crash on the couch, only to wake up hours later and realize that we need to eat dinner, then head back to bed.

We try to push out the memories of screaming parents, who accuse us of not caring, not putting in enough time, not preparing extra sheets (in our spare time) for their child, who they perceive is gifted.  We try to replace these with memories of all the hugs and smiles our students provide us with.

Weekends are often spent on sleep, planning, and grading.  When shopping we think about treats for our students…. education permeates our life, there is no escape.  We learn early on that our career path is not a career, it is a vocation – it follows us all the time, at all hours of the day and night, we are on call, there is no time off…. yet, the rewards are endless.

When we see a child learn a new concept, we celebrate with them – our face lights up as much as theirs does.  We LOVE to see children excited about learning.  We love to see them accomplish their goals – we love to praise them and let them know they are special and they are capable.  What a joy it is to be able to walk alongside a child on their learning journey.

There are teachers who party and use drugs and do all sorts of things, but most of us pour so much of our hearts and souls into our work that we are lucky if we have the energy to get out of our pajamas on the weekends.

Today, 195, days ’til 40, I am thankful for being an educator, even if that means society misunderstands me.  I LOVE my job (most of the time).



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70 responses to “195 Days ’til 40: What Teachers Do in Private

  1. Magnolia Beginnings

    August 10, 2012 at 00:15

    Oh Amen to that! Just left teaching in July, 6th grade special ed, because the postives were having trouble competing with the negatives.Loved the students but not the paperwork and the very small town demanding parents. Someone once told me to write down those moments that make you realize why you put your heart into this everyday to look on when you can’t remember. It was good advice but I’m going back to teaching/volunteering adult ELL students. Less paperwork, more happiness. Focus on the postives if you can. You’re a special person.

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:20

      I hope that you find more satisfaction with the adults – yes, the teacher burnout rate is so high – which I completely understand… the high demands with all the stress.. and sometimes the rewards just are not enough to compensate for the toll it takes on some people…

  2. buckwheatsrisk

    August 10, 2012 at 00:16

    ha i remember feeling like that about teachers when i was a kid! now i’m on to you all!

  3. jensine

    August 10, 2012 at 01:21

    and then there are ALLLLLLLLL the corrections YUCK

  4. A Table in the Sun

    August 10, 2012 at 03:44

    Oh….I couldn’t agree more. This teacher is dog tired at the end of the day, and quite human. We do love those little light bulbs going off….it makes it all worthwhile.

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:18

      Yes, it does make it all worthwhile!

  5. tonyakerrigan

    August 10, 2012 at 04:43

    When my son was sick for an extended period, I homeschooled him. It was eye-opening and enlightening to see how much time it took for lesson plans and teaching.

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:18

      I bet it was – that is a lot of work!

  6. The Presents of Presence

    August 10, 2012 at 05:14

    As a former fellow teacher, I applaud you ~ wish I could go to a Poets meeting with you ~ I’ve a hankering for a margarita! 🙂

  7. Smeesaw

    August 10, 2012 at 09:06

    Amazing Post!!! I’m a teacher too. Totally know what you mean.

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:15

      Yes, only teachers really understand!

  8. stilllearning2b

    August 10, 2012 at 12:48

    Hits home today as I try to shake off the exhaustion and gear up for day 2 of the new school year…

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:14

      I think this hits home for so many of us!

  9. getbusyyall

    August 10, 2012 at 13:11

    Loved POETS. Ours was just called “the book club”.

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:14

      Me too – I miss it!!! 🙂

    • anchorsandechoes

      August 25, 2012 at 06:34

      Ours was “choir practice”!

      • getbusyyall

        August 25, 2012 at 17:12

        “Attention, teachers and staff: Friday, choir practice will be held in the book club room with a meeting of POETS to follow.”

        Later that Friday evening, bands of roving, inebriated educators terrorize the town, forcing random passers-by to properly conjugate swear words in French and Spanish; playing “Friday Night” on recorders; and correcting everybody’s grammar.

  10. The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)

    August 10, 2012 at 19:34

    Haha. Love it.

    Even what they do in school is sometimes entertaining. I remember I had a teacher when
    I was in primary school, 6 years old. The only thing I remember about her was the way she smelt, full of sweet perfume and her opening her metal cupboard door in which she’d attached a mirror to and she’d stand there plastering her face with make-up.

  11. Walkingthroughpain

    August 10, 2012 at 23:16

    I have enjoyed following your blog – for this reason, I’d like to nominate you for the Sunshine Blog Award. For details on how to accept, check out!

  12. silverbells2012

    August 11, 2012 at 00:52

    Yes, teaching is exhausting. These days I don’t put every last ounce of my energy into the job, because my own child is my priority, but my nine hours in the classroom really take it out of me.

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:12

      Yes, I found that having my own children did change the way I was able to give at school…

  13. walkwiththerabbi

    August 11, 2012 at 02:05

    Reminds me of the time I walked into a bank and began chatting with the teller. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I’m a financial advisor. He said, You don’t look like a financial advisor” (I had on jeans and a tee-shirt and NEVER wear a suit and tie). I replied, “What does a financial advisor look like?” He was speechless. Like the private life of a teacher, my clients would have fired me years ago if they were privy to my personal and private life. As always, I REALLY enjoy your writings. I wish you and yours “enough.”

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:09

      This is great! Yes, we do have stereotypes of people in every religion, don’t we?????

  14. Inga

    August 11, 2012 at 06:46

    One of my favorite childhood memories were being sent to deliver messages to the teachers in the teacher’s lounge. Knocking on the door and waiting, opening the door and peering into the dense cigarette smoke to try to see a teacher. My how things change -LOL

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:07

      Hehehe – wow, things have certainly changed!!!

  15. Lela Bonchjela

    August 11, 2012 at 23:07

    Love this so much! I feel like sending a mass email to staff, but if they see this comment, they’ll get to my blog. I’d like to keep work and personal, separate entities as much as possible hee!

    • 400daystil40

      August 11, 2012 at 23:18

      This made me laugh – I know the feeling!!! This is why my name is not listed – though I do not mind staff reading it – but do like a bit of anonymity… then I struggle, as you are, with things I want to pass on……..

      • Lela Bonchjela

        August 11, 2012 at 23:26

        True! I am so itching to mail the the link haha! About the kids seeing us outside with eyes wide open, I get that ALL the time. Or, they turn their backs on you, as if we cant recognise them in those uniforms! We’re worst than celebrities! They have paparazzi, we have kids, parents, colleagues, and whatnot!=. We’re humans too~

        • 400daystil40

          August 12, 2012 at 12:31

          I can relate! Yes, they are so funny and I do think that the school community paparazzi can be as bad as the media one!!!!!

  16. knitxpressions

    August 12, 2012 at 06:47

    teachers live in school…hahaha that’s funny. I’m sure teachers are really glad they DON’T live in school =D

  17. The White Pumpkin

    August 12, 2012 at 09:49

    I liked the little hugs n random pictures when I taught. I do not miss the parents though. Sorry to say. Can’t wait to see my lil sis in action. She is going to make a spectacular teacher.

    • 400daystil40

      August 12, 2012 at 12:33

      Yes, I LOVE those hugs…. and I think that the one thing people do not ever seem to miss are the parents, sadly. The truth is, I have worked with some AMAZING parents – but the not so amazing ones ruin it for the rest of them.

  18. viveka

    August 15, 2012 at 22:58

    I have never wondered about what my teachers … do in private – but I have always wondered what they do at the banks after 2pm. *laughing – great to read that you, guys are human *smile To be a teacher is a tough job … but also a very giving job I can image, but I understand completely if you guys go mental .. once in a while.

  19. mybeautfulthings

    August 18, 2012 at 17:19

    Loved this post! I taught for 30 years and remember the weekends of grading, planning and whatever I was doing, wondering how it might benefit my pupils. Indeed, it is a vocation and it’s lovely to hear of your dedication too. Good luck to you and all your lucky pupils! 🙂

  20. dmarshall58

    August 18, 2012 at 17:28

    I once gave a class of sixth graders a journal assignment, “What do teachers do when they’re not at school?’ and the responses were hilarious. We hung out in coffee shops, went to the grocery to meet men/women, played video games, went to the movies, met aliens. About a third of the stories ended with the teachers coming to school the next day and saying something like “I didn’t have time to grade your papers.”

    • 400daystil40

      August 19, 2012 at 00:45

      What a great assignment! I would love to see what our students would answer! 🙂

  21. Javon Monet

    August 18, 2012 at 17:35

    I love this post, thank you for sharing. I am in school to be an educator and this post made me even more excited about my future plans.

  22. kenthinksaloud

    August 19, 2012 at 08:09

    As a fellow teacher I LOVED this post – it is so true! Despite the fact few of us have much energy left for the weekend each week, it is still a job I love. The kids (most of them anyway) make it worthwhile. I believed that 20 years ago when I began teaching and I believe it even more now 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      August 19, 2012 at 22:45

      hank you so much, Ken!!! I agree with you completely!

  23. William Eaton

    August 22, 2012 at 14:08

    Nice. Appreciated by a parent of a 7th grader. Best, William Eaton

    Btw: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” — Doesn’t really sound like the Buddha.

    • 400daystil40

      August 22, 2012 at 22:35

      Thanks! and as for the quote… I got it from many sources, but you know how the internet goes!

      • William Eaton

        August 22, 2012 at 23:04

        Perhaps a case study in how religions evolve over time. A kind of game of “telephone”? Best, Wm.

  24. 400daystil40

    August 22, 2012 at 23:13

    Yes!!! 🙂

  25. Lela Bonchjela

    August 23, 2012 at 21:40

    Hola! Something related to teachers here, if you have the time to read. Did you went through similar experience?

    • 400daystil40

      August 25, 2012 at 00:24

      Thanks for the link – I can completely relate!

  26. sonworshiper

    August 24, 2012 at 22:37

    Thanks for your service as a teacher. Great teachers made a tremendous difference in my school years, and I am glad that they passed on a passion for knowledge.
    (On a mostly unrelated note, I am also glad to have found your unique and interesting blog! Good luck on your search for meaning in the next 180-ish days. I look forward to posts for -1 days ’til 40 and beyond as you continue learning and teaching.)

    • 400daystil40

      August 25, 2012 at 00:18

      Thank you so much! And thank you for the compliments! I enjoy working with the students and their families… they are great people. I am fortunate.

  27. aliceatwonderland

    August 25, 2012 at 07:23

    I have great respect for teachers. My parents were both educators. I thought I wanted to be one, went to school for a while, and decided teaching was not for me. I am a librarian. So I still get the books, just not the kids . . . and worse, the parents!

    • 400daystil40

      August 25, 2012 at 23:01

      Ah, my partner is a librarian, it seems for similar reasons! Sometimes I think she made the better choice – as you say, it seems to come with fewer challenges….. most of my job seems to be problem solving and putting out fires.

  28. Holly McKechnie

    August 25, 2012 at 11:44

    You have managed to so precisely describe what us teachers do down to the last glass of wine. You may have forgotten, however, that the majority of our conversations with fellow colleagues consist of ‘school stories’. I sometimes feel that’s all I have to offer as witty repartee!

    • 400daystil40

      August 25, 2012 at 22:59

      hehehe – yes, so sad, yet so true… even when we try to disengage, it seems we never really do….. often I joke that my life would have been so much easier if I had chosen to be an investment banker instead of a civil servant!

  29. writingfrommeridawritingfrommerida

    August 25, 2012 at 22:16

    Thanks for hitting the LIKE button for my blog… I am also an educator and reading the book I blogged about is what I did this weekend!

  30. thewritegirlforthejob

    August 26, 2012 at 21:50

    I truly believe most educators don’t get paid enough for the job they do. Some of the most influential people in my life have been teachers and professors. Priceless!

    • 400daystil40

      August 26, 2012 at 22:51

      Thanks so much for the kind comments! Yes, if only the rest of society felt the same way about teacher pay! Imagine if teachers were highly regarded and paid well and stock brockers got teacher pay!!! How different the world may be! 🙂


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