Teachers’ Workload is Bigger Than Ever Before and It’s Taking a Toll

Teachers' Workload is Bigger Than Ever Before and It's Taking a Toll

“Teachers just get the rest of the year off.”

“It must be a great time to be a teacher.”

“What are teachers even doing now with parents now teaching their own kids?”

Everything. It feels like we’re doing everything.

You see, many of us have our own kids, myself included. We are teaching them—and believe it or not, we ARE teaching your kids, too.

We ARE working more than the 45-minute Zoom calls where you see us. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t logging out of Zoom, closing our laptops, and immediately grabbing a margarita to spend the rest of the day poolside. 

You see, it starts the night before for me. My husband is an essential worker; therefore, it’s just me. Well, me AND my two kids. The night before, I lay out coloring books for my toddler to keep him busy during my online lessons. On a good day, they’ll keep him busy long enough. Some days, I have to excuse myself from the computer screen to throw more distractions his way while I stressfully try to juggle the needs of my kids AND my school kids. I’ve always been “mom” and “teacher”, but never have I been so deeply immersed into the two roles at one time.

After the call, I log my second grader onto our computer and get him started on his work—while still simultaneously entertaining the toddler. In the gaps between “mama, mama, mama”, I check on my students’ work status the best I can, respond to parent emails/texts, and just try to find a moment to breathe. 

It’s frustrating to even think that some believe this is easier. It’s not. Every day feels like I’m stuck in a never-ending tornado of uncertainty and unlimited boxes to check off. When I’m spending time on my school kids, I feel parent guilt. When I spend time with my kids, I feel teacher guilt because I’m always behind on something for work. There aren’t enough hours in the day and there certainly isn’t enough time to be “bored”. 

I had no idea just how difficult it would be to separate home and work until I was unexpectedly handed both batons and told I couldn’t afford to drop either one. In all honesty, some days I have to choose. Some days, my kids get the better version of me, and some days I spend more time catching up on work and grades and emails. Some days, I am in full survival mode and I don’t excel at either role. On the best days, I somehow manage to keep everything afloat. 

My students? Many are receiving the much-needed family time they deserve and I couldn’t be happier for them. Me? Well, you might find me at my desk teaching and parenting, or you might just find me locked in the bathroom for a moment of peace from the craziness.

The physical demand is taxing, to say the least. I physically have little hands tapping my shoulder asking for another snack, or some help—and rightfully so, they deserve my attention. I also have little voices asking questions from the other side of the computer screen. They, too, deserve my attention. Somehow, my physical inability to meet everyone’s demands become my own mental issue. It weighs on my heart more than any little person on my lap or pending checklist on my screen.

It’s this feeling of wanting to do my best but feeling incapable of doing everything that’s expected of me. The feeling never goes away; it’s constant from the moment I wake up to the moment I start rolling through our plans for the next day. Though my eyes could use more rest and my body would benefit from being more relaxed, it’s absolutely my state of mind that may eventually get me. I can feel it creeping up on me and I’m fighting it constantly. My students seem well—but I’m not sure I’m okay. 

I wish I knew how to fix it; I wish I knew how to make it easier, but even in pajama pants—one the hardest job there is just got even harder.

Also Read:

Teachers' Workload is Bigger Than Ever Before and It's Taking a Toll

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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