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There’s No Tired Like Teacher Tired! (REAL Stories from REAL Teachers)

There’s No Tired Like Teacher Tired! (REAL Stories from REAL Teachers)


Look, we all know what it’s like to be really tired. But do you know what it’s like to be teacher 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.

A tired teacher asleep at her desk while eating an apple.
Sleep it off, sister!

Teaching is Exhausting

My first day of teaching was at the tender age of 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.

Teacher Tired: A Whole New Level

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.)

A female teacher yawning while laying her head on a desk, exhausted from teaching.
Today’s lesson? Naptime, Billy – today’s lesson is “How to Nap: 101”.

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, which is usually unaccounted for in your teaching salary.

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!

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Consequences of Being Teacher Tired

In my first year of teaching, the exhaustion and stress of teaching 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.

Vintage photo of a tired teacher slumped in a chair.

Another thing I learned that day was that nipples bleed way more than you would expect! That nipple wound bled right through about five 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!

Quotes from Tired Teachers

Chronic exhaustion is a classic symptom of teacher burnout. Stay like that too long, and you’ll find yourself smothering toothpaste into your armpits (or potentially much worse places!)

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!

Here are my favorites:

A meme of a tired teacher alseep in his chair with the words "Teaching Got Me Like".
  • 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 replied 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, but at least the students had a funny story to tell!
  • 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.

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There’s No Tired Like Teacher Tired

Don’t knock it until you try it!

If you’re going to stay in this profession, it’s crucial to understand the impact of teaching on fatigue. Even more importantly, you need strategies to manage teaching exhaustion.

Make time for self-care and rest. Automate what can be automated in your work and admin-life. Hell, maybe go on Fiver and hire yourself a Virtual Assistant.

But above all, prioritize yourself. You only get one life.

And it would be unfortunate to walk through it with nipple-cuts 24/7. (Although minty armpits aren’t so bad!)

A dog and a small girl asleep on the living room couch.
There’s no fix like a good night’s sleep. (Or 20!)

Attention! Some of the links present in this article may be affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through the link, we might generate a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the links. All of this revenue goes back into Teacher Misery and the mission of improving it and the lives of teachers everywhere. As always, thank you for all your support! :)))

Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. 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 and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.


Sunday 8th of May 2022

Drove home from work and immediately fell asleep parked in my driveway. Then woke up to the gentle nudge of my car “crashing” into my house. I had fallen asleep with my foot on the brake before putting the car in park, and my car slowly idled until it was stopped by the bumper meeting the exterior wall of the house. There was no damage to the car or the house, only to my dignity.


Saturday 7th of May 2022

I put the Kcup into the Keurig machine, pushed the button, and let the coffee run out while I was holding the mug in my hand.


Saturday 7th of May 2022

Stopped at the drugstore after work to run in for a prescription. Took my wallet and keys, but left my car door WIDE open (not unlocked, OPEN) with my purse on the front seat. With my phone on the front seat. With all of my belongings (since I work three jobs) on the front seat. Thank the Lord I got in and out fast….then shook my head at myself.

Jessie Kelly

Saturday 7th of May 2022

I drove home after school. I pulled into the driveway. We'd moved six weeks earlier, this was not my house anymore!


Saturday 7th of May 2022

Not me, but a coworker walked to her car and got in without a shirt, just a bra. Multiple times, I have forgotten to rinse the shampoo out of my hair in the shower. I tried to open my mailbox at home with my house key. If I don’t see my car right away in the parking lot, my first thought is wondering if I left it at home.