One thing that is well known to all teachers but not the outside world is the pure exhaustion that comes over you towards the end of the semester.
I didn’t have a full semester. Just ten weeks. I didn’t have a full class, just 10-15 kids. I wasn’t truly teaching, just explaining and playing, no test or homework. And yet, at week nine, I was beyond exhausted. Every day was a struggle, every class was a struggle. Coming up with lesson plans and teaching kids was becoming exponentially more difficult, every day, every hour.
Your immune system comes down, your patience wears out, your ability to be attentive and compassionate is virtually gone. Teachers become more quiet in the break room, often avoiding each other, in need of quiet time between classes. The tensions flare between administrators and educators. Tensions flare between students and teachers. I cannot imagine grading final tests and my guess is that grades often reflect this. The kids are tired too. They have been learning non-stop for weeks, they are looking for that break and the last test must really wear them out.
School is hard, school is hard for everyone. Most jobs can be year-round jobs with a small vacation, not teaching. This is because teaching is a high stress all the time job. You’re watching dozens of children, who are evaluating your every move, who are trying to do their own thing, who you are performing for 6 hours every day. Every day is a battle and the stress is ever-present, even on days off as you await the Monday.
I remember my energy being so low during the ninth week that I just couldn’t do it anymore, I had to take the last week off. After a week of good rest and normal sleep, It was like being a new human being. I came back to chaperone a field trip and I had new energy and vitality.
I’ve had many jobs, hard jobs, physically and mentally. But no job drained me like 10 weeks teaching kids. No job felt as rewarding either.