If I Could’ve Warned Myself About What Going Back to School Would Be Like

If I Could've Warned Myself About What Going Back to School Would Be Like

It was 10 pm on a sweltering late August night. I was sitting alone on my couch, watching Netflix on the last night of the summer. School would start again in a few short hours. I was filled with the kind of nervous resignation familiar only to professional educators and cavalrymen who have just been ordered to charge into enemy artillery. All that was left was to pick out my best back-to-school clothes and get some sleep when suddenly, in the center of my TV screen appeared a familiar face: my own!

“Hello? Hello? Dang it, I knew I shouldn’t have done this over data.” I recognized my own voice coming through the speakers, though it seemed muffled.

I blinked. Then blinked again.

“What’s up?” the TV face said to me.

“That’s it,” I thought “No more Star Trek for me.”

“Who…who are you?” I stammered.

“I’m you, doofus! What do I look like, the Tiger King? I’ve come from the future with a message for you and I spent my entire paycheck to get here so you’d better listen up!”

“…The future?”

“That’s what I said, dude! You’re going back to school tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah…” I began.

“Shave!” He interrupted, his eyes wild, “Shave your face! Otherwise, your mask will shove every single beard hair back into your skin for ten miserable hours! You’ll feel like you’ve been kissing a porcupine! And don’t get me started on the acne. Or as the kids call it, ‘mask-ne’!”

“Mask-ne? Ten hours?! Hold on, contract time is only from seven to-“

“You still believe in contract time?!” The entity on the TV burst into laughter, shaking the entire TV.

I was annoyed now. “What do you mean?” I asked hotly, “Start at seven, go home at three.”

“You really think you can teach seven classes, run three online classes, grade assignments on paper, email AND Canvas, sanitize thirty-five desks, answer at least seven school nurse emails and teach an army of parents how to use Zoom and Canvas for the thirteenth time in as many days and still leave at three?!”

I just stared, open-mouthed. “Well…I thought…”

“Boy, you’re not getting out of that place until the stars are out! And you’re the lucky one! The English teachers have to grade essays; they never leave. Monday through Friday they sleep on cots in the faculty lounge and shower in the locker rooms!”

“Wow…” I murmured, dumbstruck “Well, surely we’ll be paid extra once people realize…”

The TV shook with laughter again.

“Paid extra?! Come on, man! You’ve been a teacher for years. You know better than that.”

“But I’ve seen the Facebook posts! Teachers are heroes! We’re appreciated now!” I said lamely.

The Future Me on the TV smiled a sad smile. “You must have not been on Facebook for a while. Those days are over, my friend.” He sighed, “You either retire a hero or you keep teaching long enough to see yourself become a villain.”

“How is everyone dealing with all of this?” I asked.

“Just keep swimming.” He replied simply.

“What?” I asked, perplexed.

“It’s from that Disney fish cartoon, Finding Nemo. You know, the song they sing? Anyway, it’s basically the official motto of teachers everywhere. It’s hummed behind every mask, included in every staff email and immortalized in a mural the art teachers created in the faculty lounge. ‘Just keep swimming’ is our new gospel.”

“I see..” I said, though I didn’t. “What’s it like teaching in a mask all day?”

My future self grinned a sly grin. “I’ll show you.” He tied on a mask with a fish on it. I’ll let you guess which three words were written next to it.

“Mmff fmmf fmmf? Fmmr mmf nmmf mmf fhtm grmmf!” He said through the layers of cloth.

“What?!” I cried, “I can’t understand what you’re saying!”

“Exactly,” he said, removing the mask, “and neither can anyone else. You have no idea how hard it is to teach when everything you say comes out as ‘Wmmffmmf rmmf fmmf Rmmfmmommf?’.”

As my future self continued to ramble about the woes of teaching behind a mask, the TV began to flicker and the face of my Future Self started to blink in and out of the picture.

“Er…you’re starting to look like the school WiFi connection,” I said, “You’re turning on and off at random.”

“Darn it, I thought I’d have longer than this. Listen, it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s really nice to have such small class sizes and every time anyone coughs half the school freaks out and stays home for a couple of days. Classroom management is actually…well, manageable. Except for the kids hiding their phones in their masks and doing whispered live streams of class. Keep an eye out for that, unless you want the ‘Epic Teacher Voice Crack’ version of your lesson plan posted on all the meme pages.”

A loud beeping sound came through the TV. My Future self’s eyes widened.

“Woops! My battery’s toast! Gotta go, pal! One more thing before I go…”

“Just keep swimming?” I ventured.

“Just keep swimming.” He nodded. “I think you’re gonna be ok.”

The TV flickered off.

Also Check Out:

If Teachers Went Back in Time to Warn Themselves About Distance Learning

If Teachers Went Back in Time to Warn Themselves About Distance Learning

Going back to school

Like it? Share with your friends!


Senior Member

Andrew is a Jr. High Spanish teacher. He loves rock 'n roll, Chinese food and collecting military antiques. When he's not teaching teens that "¿Cómo se llama?" has nothing to do with Peruvian quadrupeds, he can be found hanging out with his family, playing drums, buying old Russian helmets and plotting the downfall of internet translation apps.

Choose A Format
Share your amazing stories, tips, opinions, and other stuff that matters.
Upload your funny, inspiring, DIY, or informative video(s) for the world to see!
Personality quiz
Leave the serious quizzes at school, these are strictly fun! You make the questions and pre-define the results.
Trivia quiz
Time to test your friends' knowledge! You choose the subject and have fun seeing who scores the highest!
Pose any question to millions of educators by creating your own polls/surveys, whether for research, for fun, or for the sake of curiosity!
Share your classroom decor, costumes, funny classroom antics, silly grading moments, or other teacher life shenanigans!