Look, we all know what it’s like to be really tired. Most of us pulled a few “all-nighters” in college (whether to study, get wasted, or just a consequence of experimenting with coffee, energy drinks and/or stimulants.) But that’s something we probably did on purpose and had adequate time to recover from. But the kind of fatigue that teaching causes is unlike most types of mental and physical exhaustion. (Nurses, I see you. And you definitely know what I’m talking about!). Trust me when I say there is no tired like teacher tired.
Teaching is Exhausting
I started teaching at age 23, as many of us start right out of college. Even though I was young and healthy, I was not at all prepared for the level of exhaustion I was about to endure.
I remember getting a hint of what it would be like during student teaching. My body completely forgot what it was like to get up at such an ungodly hour and go balls-to-the-wall with mental energy for 9 hours of school.
Even in high school I found just being in the school building so tiring. Thousands of frenetic adolescents, sending out waves of anxiety and angst in all directions, including me! I was a confused asshole just like everyone else. And I recall coming home and napping on the regular. But I really had no clue what it was like on the other side of the desk.
Being a student is a passive thing. It can be active if you want it to be. You can actively participate all day long, in a helpful or disruptive way. But you can also just slide into the classroom, sit in your seat, use very little energy, and slip right back out.
When you are the teacher, a room full of expectant young people cycle in and out all day long, and you are expected to control them, quiet them, engage them, and enlighten them. Just the act of them all looking directly at me, waiting for the next activity or instruction feels like a lot (In an ideal world, I mean. They rarely all look at me in quiet anticipation.)
And the thing is, there is no break at all throughout the entire day. Any break you have you must work through feverishly if you have any hope of getting out of the building before sunset. Then you’re expected to run after-school activities or coach sports for little to no extra pay.
So it isn’t until you finally sit in your car and stare out the windshield at the inky sky with your mouth hanging open that you get a moment of peace. And you still have to drive home without totaling your car. (Now imagine you have kids of your own to feed, bathe, and show some kind of regard for!) Parent/teacher tired is a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of tired, lemme tell ya!
Consequences of Being Teacher Tired
My first year of teaching the exhaustion made me violently ill several times. It made me susceptible to awful viral diseases like C-diff that usually only medical personnel get from nursing homes and hospitals.
In fact, the lack of rest caused some unbelievable health problems, but it also inspired some very strange behaviors as well. The two things that come to mind both involve A.M. armpit routines. One morning as I shaved my armpits, I carelessly moved the razor from one armpit and across my chest to the other and sliced directly across my nipple. I had no idea how sensitive nipples are as the soap ran into the wound and burned like a bitch.
Another thing I learned that day was that nipples bleed way more than you would expect! That nipple wound bled right through about 5 different band-aids that day and took a ridiculously long time to heal.
Another morning when I was too tired to function I put a glob of toothpaste onto my toothbrush and proceeded to vigorously rub it into one armpit and then the other. It wasn’t until I felt a cool, minty sensation in my pits that I realized what I had done. It was kind of refreshing, but I don’t recommend it!
Teacher Tired Quotes
I asked my teacher followers to complete the following sentence, “Once, I was so tired from teaching that I actually…” and I got some very entertaining responses! Add yours below in the comments!
One, I was so tired from teaching that I actually…
Poured boiling tea from a kettle directly onto the floor.
Tried to use the car key fob to open the classroom door, multiple times (at least 10 people commented with this!)
Put oven mitts on, opened the oven door, took oven mitts off, and grabbed a scalding hot pan with my bare hands.
Put my wallet in the fridge.
Used the calculator app on my phone to call a parent.
Brushed my teeth with diaper cream.
Bumped my cart into a fruit stand at the grocery store and apologized to it.
Drove the wrong way down a one way four lane street in a busy city.
Went to work twice in one day. The second time I was confused as to why the parking lot was empty. Turns out I went home at the end of the day and fell asleep. When I woke up, I thought it was the next morning.
Made a whole pot of coffee without putting the pot underneath.
Waited hours for my husband to pick me up after school. I called him up yelling and he informed me that I had driven myself to school that day.
Left my car running the entire school day.
Walked directly into a tetherball pole while leading my line of students to lunch. I had a huge egg-shaped bump on my forehead for a week.
Used spray deodorant as dry shampoo.
Tried to turn my classroom lights on with my car key.
Put hair gel all over my face instead of moisturizer.
Tried to make a phone call with my smartboard remote.
Went to take two Advil but instead took two more Vyvanse and didn’t sleep for 3 days.
Came home from school Friday afternoon, fell asleep, woke up, made myself lunch and went back to school.
Put on and fastened my bike helmet to walk to the photocopier.
Used glue stick as chapstick.
Tried to scan my school ID to enter my house.
Got into the wrong car after work.
Poured milk on the dog food instead of my cereal.
Fell asleep while waiting in line at Walgreens.
Poured a gallon of sweet tea into the dishwasher.
Freaked out while talking on the phone because I couldn’t find my phone.
Fell asleep in the middle of class and slept through the bell and into the next class.
Backed through my garage door in the morning.
Yelled student names at my dogs and vice versa.
Stopped at a stop sign and waited a very long time for it to turn green.
Put a box of panty liners in the fridge.
Took a shower with my bra on.
Stared at a blank wall in my apartment with my mouth hanging open for an hour.
Sprayed my armpits with hairspray.
Tapped on a page of a physical book to turn the page.
Tried to pinch and enlarge a picture inside a physical book.
Drove away from the gas station with the pump still in my car.
Fell out of my chair and screamed fuck in front of a class full of 7th graders.
Got into the passenger side of my car and waited a while for the driver until I realized it was me.
Drank hand sanitizer because I thought it was my water bottle.
Fell asleep on the toilet.
Took a bite of chalk instead of candy.
Rang my own doorbell and waited for someone to buzz me in. I live alone.
Packed a hard seltzer for lunch instead of a V8.
Drove over a mailbox.
Shaved half my face.
Walked out the front door with no pants on and didn’t realize till I sat in my car.
No Tired Like Teacher Tired
Can you top these teacher tired moments? Comment below with everything you’ve done as a result of being absurdly tired from teaching!
If you’re looking for a way to laugh off the exhaustion, check out our most popular Teacher Memes here at Teacher Misery. We know teaching can be…well…a lot, so we’re here to help you find humor in the daily misery.
Jane Morris is the pen name of a teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself, but she is afraid she’ll lose her job. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in writing from an even fancier (more expensive) university. She has a loving family and cares about making people laugh more than anything else.