The 4 Stages of “Sunday Scaries” When You’re a Teacher

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Everyone knows that no matter how much you enjoy your career, Sunday is an anxiety-inducing day filled with impending doom. For teachers, Sunday has morphed into an extra day of the regular workweek and has lost that sweet weekend feeling. Instead of lounging around, participating in festivities with friends or getting out into the world for activities, teachers can typically be found holed up in a cave made out of student papers that need grading, lesson plans, paperwork, and intense regret on a Sunday afternoon.

Stage 1: Denial

dragon queen in the fire from Game of Thrones

The first stage of teacher-Sunday is denial. “Of course I can go get brunch with friends! Obviously five hours this afternoon is enough time to plan lessons and grade papers! I can have a social life! I’m a normal human who can do all the regular human things that other humans do!” WRONG. SO VERY WRONG. We have all made this mistake in the past and have been up into late hours of the night trying to make up for our innocent optimism and naivety. As they say, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt my friends, it’s also Stage 1 of teacher Sunday.

Stage 2: Rage

pheobe from Friends screaming

After the initial denial wears off, the rage starts to settle in. This rage is completely irrational and is usually aimed at yourself since you know…you’re the one who decided to take the noble path of educating the youth even though you knew it meant losing most of your weekends, evenings and sanity while making very little money and having few opportunities to pee during a school day.

At some point during the rage-filled monologue that occurs in your head, you direct it away from yourself and towards every non-educator who thinks teaching is an easy 8am-3pm job. The anger only increases when you think about all of the people out there making six figures while you’re living on Ramen noodles.

Stage 3: Anxiety

spongebob squarepants panicking

The only thing that finally allows you to move on from your rage is the feeling of 20 bricks laying on your chest as you remember all of the tasks you need to get done before Monday. “Did I make all of my copies?” “Are my lesson plans adequate?” “Will the kids be engaged in the lesson?” “What if I have an unannounced observation tomorrow? Did I cover all of the domains?” “What if I get pulled from my prep to cover someone else’s class and then I don’t have enough time to make my copies and my entire lesson is ruined?” “WHAT IF THE KIDS DON’T LIKE MY OUTFIT?”

There are so many details that go into each day and if you forget one, it may very well throw off your entire lesson. As teachers, we learn to improvise and keep our cool but older students can sense when you’re “faking it till you make it” and they know when you’re flailing around like a car dealership blow up man in the wind. Once you finally lay down for the night, any attempt at solid sleep is gone.

Stage 4: Acceptance & Gratitude

will smith happy clapping hands

Stage 4 usually occurs as you walk into the building Monday morning and see your colleagues and a bunch of awesome kids barreling towards you wanting to tell you every last detail about their weekend. Some people envy the summers off and think, “I should’ve been a teacher” but truthfully, if you had the ability to be a teacher, you’d already be one. This is not a stepping-stone or a “do it for the money” kind of job. This is a calling that once it’s been embraced, you know you could never be as fulfilled doing anything else. I love these little spawns as if they were my own and would do just about anything to see them succeed.

Your colleagues and students become your second family. Each time you watch another batch of them move on to the next grade, or graduate onto a new school, a piece of your heart goes with them. Every time a child or young adult tells you, “you helped me,” “you inspired me,” or “I couldn’t have done it without you,” steps 1 through 3 become completely worth it. You forget about the social events you’ve had to pass on, the long paycheck-less summers, the hurtful criticisms from parents that cut you to the core, and the thankless hours of work that occur after hours and you feel extreme gratitude that you are one of the lucky few who is built for this career.

This article was written by Lindsey — a middle school Social Studies teacher who enjoys writing, reading, politics and using humor to cope with life.

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