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An Honest Look at Back to School Time

Janelle Cox

It’s that time of year again … back to school time! Just when you were getting used to sleeping in, the alarm clock once again needs to be turned on. Forget lazy days curled up on the couch watching Netflix with your cat. It’s that time to fire up your coffee maker or make your daily run to Starbucks. Long gone are the late summer nights sitting by the campfire roasting marshmallows -- the next 180 plus days are going to be spent teaching the future leaders of tomorrow. Here’s a humorous look at the truth about back to school time for teachers.

Back to School: There’s No Time to Let Your Mind Wander

Back to school time means your attention span does not get a break. If you’re one to let your mind wander or if you like to take a mental vacation, back to school time is not the time to do that. When you’re standing in front of sea full of students’ smiling faces, the last thing you can do is think about what you’re going to make for dinner. If you do let your mind wander in front of your students, then your class will end up in utter chaos. No matter what is going on in your life at the moment, when you’re in front of the classroom you need to be present.

Extra Work Hours are Just Part of the Job

It’s pretty laughable to teachers when people say that being a teacher is easy because you only work for a 6-7 hours a day and have your nights, weekends, and summers free. The majority of teachers work way beyond their salaries, attending school events, conferences, parent-teacher meetings, and planning engaging lessons. Teachers are at school well before the bell rings and many stay well after. Working extra hours is just part of the job.

The Paperwork is Neverending

The one reprieve that teachers like the most about summer break is that they get a break from the neverending flow of paperwork. Paperwork is a teacher’s worst nightmare. From grading papers to filing them to writing student assessments and filling out forms, back to school time means the paperwork just keeps coming. When did being a teacher feel like you were a secretary?

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Working with Children is Not for the Faint at Heart

If you think being a teacher is easy because you like children, you are mistaken. Teachers see and hear everything, and being a teacher can both be a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing when you see them flourish both academically and emotionally. But they can be a curse when they are misbehaving, or when you have to deal with bullying, or when you hear about the problems in their home life that you can’t help them with. It’s great to be a teacher when it’s going good, but when problems arise, that’s when it gets tough.

Earning the Respect of Students is Harder than You May Think

As you know, respect is earned, and it goes both ways. So in order to get respect, you must have respect for the other person. The ugly truth about back to school time for teachers is that you must start over each and every year, gaining the respect of all of your students. Now for some teachers, this may be easy, but for others it’ll take a lot of time and patience. Not all students will be willing to embrace you, so it’ll take some time and work for you to get to know them. Figure out what makes these children tick -- if that means you need to have a sense of humor in order to bond with them, then do it.

You are a teacher because you like what you do. Despite all of your pet peeves and everything that may be stacked against you, you teach because it’s your calling and you are good at it. While you may live for that summer break, you wouldn’t need that break if you didn’t work your tail off all year long. Have fun, and good luck!

What do you think it takes to be a teacher during back to school time? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at