I’ve been tired before from teaching. Just never this tired. Last night, I was quite literally too tired to think comfortably.

A three-hour nap took the edge off my fatigue, but I was still pretty tired. Another eight hours later, and a half-hour after my alarm went off, I still couldn’t think straight. Oy.

When I told my master teacher, she grilled me on nutrition and balanced diets. Yes, I think I have a balanced diet even if it lacks green things. Yes, I eat plenty of protein. No, that no-meat Lent thing is only on Fridays.

She seemed to believe me, and offered her advice:

“This is a very tiring, stressful job. Part of this is kids sucking the life out of us. Part of it is being exhausted. We all are.”

I had some witty rejoinder, I think, but I don’t remember exactly what I said. I was too tired.

Moral of the story? Go to bed an hour before you think you need to.


  1. Me too. I am usually tired on weekends, but this weekend it went beyond the usual incapacitation. I couldn’t even do the things I usually do when I can’t do much of anything.

    That’s pretty revealing for a “master teacher” to say that the kids are “sucking the life out of us.” How on earth did we get into that situation?

  2. My sister has an education degree (double actually, in English and History) but didn’t get a teaching job because of the fatigue problem.

  3. The tiredness has been so bad lately that I’ve actually questioned my decision to be a teacher. Therefore, worse than it’s ever been.

    I’m mostly up and running again today, but just mostly.

  4. Teachers do get lots of days off, but I am convinced that teachers is one of the absolute most tiring, intense jobs on the planet. At least, it is if you are doing it well.

  5. “Death by worksheet” is, after all, pretty easy to pull off.

  6. Part of the toughness of teaching is that you need to be on the full time. other professions allow you some breaks to surf the web, make phone calls, or otherwise break up your tasks.

    With teaching, that’s not conceivably an option.

    You will note, though, that more experienced teachers find ways of structuring their classrooms so that they don’t need to do the majority of the work – they spend a couple of weeks honing the kids into a well performing machine, and then run the rest of the year at a marathon pace, rather than as a sprint.

    In good news, I came out of this weekend the same way I went in: energized and excited to teach. In even better news, the lesson I had planned to teach last week finally came up in rotation, and it went over like gangbusters!

  7. I had a similar experience during my practice teaching. After about two weeks I said to my master teacher, “How do you do five hours of prep each night and still have energy the next day?” He said, “You just deal with it…it gets easier after time.” (I’m sure he threw a joke in there somewhere).

    The point is that teaching initially is tough, and the tough hours is the stuff done outside of the classroom (marking and planning to have awesome lessons). Eventually you get to the point where keeping the class involved and interested in your class is second nature, and you only have the prep and marking to keep up with.

    I’m in my third year now, and I am never stressed out, or exhausted or anything like that anymore. Hopefully that helps!

  8. I worry more about classroom management than awesome lessons right now. The way I hear it, principals don’t expect first-year teachers to have awesome lessons. They just expect good classroom management.

  9. dkzody

    Oh, my…you are still very young and should have lots of energy. Think about teachers who are 50+ or even 60+ who have been doing the job for years. I always tell my students that if I can do it, they can certainly do it even better than me.

    Yes, it takes energy, and it also takes smarts. Good nutrition is extremely important. I take a handful of vitamins very morning to help out. Also, go to bed at night. I’m always asleep during the school year by 9 and am up at 5. Summer vacation is another story. My husband, who does not teach, gets thrown off during the summer because I stay up so much later. But I sleep in until closer to 7.

    Hang in there, two more weeks and it’s vacation time. Oh, and next week should be easier what with exit exams taking up two mornings.

  10. So. Tired.

    I swear: I get home at about 5, relax for an hour, then start working again. I don’t work as efficiently as I possibly could, because I’m trying to get SOME relaxing in, but I’m still having to make myself stop working at the midnight mark. I go to sleep and wake up 5-6 hours later and it all starts again.

    The funny thing is, I’m exhausted until I get to school, and I’m exhausted the whole way home, but while I’m in the classroom I don’t feel tired for a minute. I’m always astonished when 3 PM hits. I guess that’s a sign that it’s a good job.

    Student teaching is ridiculously difficult. Are they making you take classes on top of student teaching? I have only one, and it ought to be a cakewalk, but just that little bit of extra work is really pushing me over the edge.

  11. dkzody: I’m definitely looking forward to the CASHEE testing. It won’t make my senior classes any easier — we’re in the library — but my afternoon sophomores have a nice movie to watch.

    I can’t wait ’till spring break.

    Kate: We have one hellish five-hour credential class. It’s so long that it’s taught by two professors.

    During the first semester of our credential program, we have a full load of 13 units plus student teaching. Ugh. Glad that’s over.

  12. Five-hour class! That’s ridiculous. Would we make OUR students do something like that? I think not. Why can’t this class be broken into two or three sessions a week at the very least? I remember my methods class, taken while doing first half of student teaching, was 2 hours on a Thursday afternoon. I had no classes during my final student teaching and even taught an adult ed class in the evening once a week for some added cash and experience.

  13. My thoughts exactly. It’s even on a school night. Woohoo.

    My understanding is that all the courses are needed because various state mandates. Nothing the school can do about it.

  14. dkzody

    It’s no wonder people are saying no to becoming a teacher. I thought there were a lot of hoops to jump through when I did the credential thing 20 years ago after leaving industry. I do know the CLAD part has been added and I did that in a cohort about 10 years ago. That was a huge time consumer.

  15. As a teacher who has seen the output of programs, maybe you can offer some perspective: Have new teachers gotten any better over the years, even marginally? Has there been any change in quality at all?

  16. joolz

    I know just how you feel I’m only thirty two and student teaching, I have never been so exhausted in my life. With ST, a GA position and classes I never know if I am coming or going. What seems to be working for me is to just sleep when I need to and then wake up earlier. Yesterday I got home at 4:30 and went to bed for a nap…or so I thought. I woke up at midnight still tired got a glass of water and slept three more hours. THEN I got up and did my lesson planning. It seems that I am able to think and work faster when I first wake and that doing any brain work at night is a waste. So I half plan at night and then finalize in the morning. For example I consider what topics I will be covering in each subject, then I google for ideas. I brainstorm as I drift off to sleep. I get up between 3 & 5 (I leave at 7:15) and set up plans or print the things I’ll need for class, put together any additional resources and then I dress and leave. I have the “getting ready” portion of my morn cut to 15 minutes max. No 1 hour hair and make-up routines or 30 minute showers. Sleeping is way more important than primping. That said, I’m off to bed!

  17. I’m lucky that I have as responsive and as responsible of a master teacher as I do. Helps a lot with these things.

  18. dkzody

    As for teachers getting better, hard to say because young people have a different work view than my generation (baby boomers). Our work is our world and today’s new teacher isn’t quite that gung-ho. I should classify that, the new teachers who stay in an inner city school do have that work ethic (you must if you are to survive) or they move on (many to administrative posts that have much less work).

    We do struggle finding young teachers who are willing to teach, coach, and advise clubs. The might do it for a year or so to get their foot in the door, then they shut down. Most of the coaches and advisers are older, experienced teachers who are willing to do it for the kids.

  19. Sounds like I might have an in, then. I’m all about the clubs, and coaching a mock trial or an academic decathlon team is my idea of fun.

    Of course, that I’m not a sports guy will not play well with the Clovis folks.

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