I Love Teaching But This Year, I Dread Going to Work Every Day

I’m a teacher and I dread going to work every single day. I know I’m not the only teacher who feels this way. And I also know I’m not the only one who is filled with guilt and shame about it. But you know what? We have nothing to feel bad about. Being a teacher is really hard right now – actually it downright sucks. Of course, we dread going to work.

Teaching has never been an easy job. The responsibilities are massive. Endless amounts of patience are required. The workload is often overwhelming and intrudes on our lives outside of school. However, there are usually so many little things that make it all worth it. Those pieces are much harder to find this year.

I’ve been teaching for a long time. I know what it’s like to be stressed, exhausted, and overworked as a teacher. I’ve had rough school years where I feel frustrated, unappreciated, and unsupported. But I’ve always been able to find those little pockets of joy and lightness that keep me going. Sure, I’ve had a recurring daydream about running off to a tropical island where kids aren’t allowed, but I’ve never actually seriously thought about quitting my job. Now it’s almost all I think about. 

I cry many mornings as I get ready for the day and am certain the kids would be better off without me. How much of a positive impact can I possibly be making when I’m so unhappy? I no longer feel confident in my abilities as a teacher. It’s harder every day to find joy in my profession, which makes me dread going to work.

You see, even on the rough days in previous years, there was always something to look forward to within a few minutes. Yes, Billy forgot his medication at home and was bouncing off the walls, but PE was coming up and Coach would help him run off some energy. I’d be able to snag another of Mrs. K’s famous chocolate chip cookies from the tray in the teacher lounge on my planning period. The PTA was setting up a taco bar for lunch. Some girls would show me the latest TikTok dance craze between classes. The hard-earned lightbulb moment would flash on faces all around the room. 

But pandemic teaching has taken away most of the moments of effortless connection, positivity, and lightness that make all the hard stuff so worth it. Now we just have the hard stuff. And it’s harder and heavier than we ever imagined possible. 

While I understand and agree with the measures put in place to keep everyone safe and healthy, teaching behind screens and masks just isn’t the same. It takes so much more energy and effort to engage with students now. If that was the only thing we were tasked with, we’d probably gladly do whatever it took without missing a beat. 

Unfortunately, in a situation in which connecting with students is harder, yet even more important than usual, we have little time or energy to focus on building those relationships. Instead, we’ve been thrown into navigating waters we’d previously only known as brief mentions in educational journals: hybrid models, asynchronous instruction, distance learning, remote teaching. There is so much new technology to learn – programs and apps we’d never heard of before. We’re rewriting lesson plans over and over as we try to provide our students with the best possible education. There are so many parent emails and calls to answer. And not enough Lysol wipes in the world to ease our minds.

I dread going to work because I don’t know if I can handle whatever chaos or crisis is waiting for me. Is a coworker in the hospital with COVID? Am I going to have to teach extra classes because there are no subs? Am I feeling feverish or just exhausted? Did one of my students’ parents lose their job – or their life? Will the wifi hold up? Is my administrator going to pop in for an unannounced observation when I’m struggling to keep both my online and in-person students engaged at the same time? Will I make it through the day without tears?

I’m doing the best I can. Every teacher I know is doing their best. Most of us are doing our best to hold on to hope that this difficult time will pass and we can find joy in our profession again. In the meantime, we need to be honest with ourselves because sugarcoating only hurts us more. Teaching in 2020 is not what we signed up for and it should be no surprise to anyone that we dread going to work.


I Love Teaching But This Year, I Dread Going to Work Every Day

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