I know what you’re thinking: Teachers love going back to school; it’s what they live for, right?
Teachers literally thrive during those first few days back, handing out eight-page syllabi, assigning social-life-ruining projects for three months in advance and absolutely obliterating the pronunciation of your last name until you give up correcting them.
At least that’s what I used to think. Until I became a teacher myself.
At 24 years old, I am a relatively doe-eyed English teacher of high school-aged students. These are students who literally could not give two sh*ts about what I’m saying during the 42-minute period I spend being the kind of teacher I always hated.
It may or may not be the reason I have a mild to moderate to sometimes severe dependency on Pinot Noir. And I’m not proud of it. But that is beside the point, and also the number one reason why my mother won’t stop calling me.
You need to take care of your body, she says. But I’m not here to tell you about my mother, my functioning alcoholism or even the best bottle of Pinot Nior under $15.00. (It’s Pinot Project, by the way.)
I’m here to enlighten you on the fact that there are plenty of teachers out there who despise the back-to-school season just as much as you do, if not more.
I’m telling you this from personal experience, and from the collective narratives of my coworkers (aka, a scathing group text that consists solely of us complaining about returning to that hell hole in the fall).
We, too, shudder at the first sight of the back-to-school sections in Target, Staples, Walmart and whatever other stores give you an immediate migraine upon arrival.
I’m not lying when I tell you I break out in a cold sweat when I see those bins full of dumbass Lisa Frank folders, tie-dye book covers and sparkly pencils.
Okay, those specific supplies are kind of fabulous, and make me so nostalgic that sometimes, I forget to break out in the cold sweat and instead daydream about stomping around these same aisles as an angelic child.
But usually I see this section of the store and am reminded once again how much I dread the back to school season, even as an educator.
1) Uh, hello! I have to go back to work.
I give full approval for you to resent me all you want for this reason because I know my entire group of friends already does.
They actually get angry when they are reminded of the fact that I spend three months of the year doing absolutely nothing besides going on vacation, cleaning my bathroom and brunching with other jobless trolls.
It really isn’t fair, but I don’t make the rules. I just enforce them, so that means I get to spend the entire summer acting like I’m still in high school (except now I can legally drink).
This hiatus, though, is always too short-lived, and as soon as August rolls around, I start crying myself to sleep at night because I know it won’t be long before I have to be a real person again.
Going to bed before 3 am, setting an alarm, making lunch... Ugh, I’m nauseous just thinking about it.
2) One word: children.
I know what you’re going to say: I’m a teacher, I should love children! They should be the sole reason why I carefully selected this profession.
I do love children. I think they are innocent and precious creatures and the future of this world. But that's children, not teenagers.
Teenagers, or as my dad calls them, “meanagers,” are exactly that. I realized pretty quickly, probably within the first hour of my first day of work two years ago, that most of them will just look at you like they wish you weren’t breathing, and that is probably what they are honestly thinking.
They will also inform you when your outfit is ugly, your hair looks like sh*t or any other small piece of information that will make you feel like the ugliest troll on the planet.
And then you realize you are letting a high school-aged person define your self-worth, and you feel even worse about yourself.
I try to remind myself about how miserable and mean I was in high school, and that usually makes me feel better for a few minutes, until one of my students tells me to go f*ck myself.
3) Two words: lesson plans.
I don’t even feel like writing about how much I hate lesson plans because it makes me more nauseous than the thought of setting an alarm for 5:30 am.
4) Grading papers that slightly resemble essays and may or may not be in standard English.
As an English teacher, I am granted the very special opportunity to teach students to read and write. I am also most fortunately given the task of assigning and grading pieces of work that may or may not have anything in common with an actual essay.
I’m talking five-paragraph term papers that somehow end up being three sentences written in World Star dialect (ex: “Hamlet b whilin” or “Ophelia is a THOT”).
The double whammy is that shuffling through this slush pile of essays helps me come to the realization that I haven’t taught my students anything; I am a completely ineffective educator and, therefore, partly responsible for the fact that the USA is something like number 15 on the global scale of students’ academic performance.
Yeah, I think I win with this one.
5) I prefer not to sweat my nonexistent balls off.
There’s not much explaining to do here besides the fact that surprisingly, I prefer the central air of my own apartment to the air conditioning-less building of my place of employment.
September, October, May and June are brutal. I’m talking, I have to take two showers a day, brutal. Like, I am a blow-out addict and don’t bother drying my hair for four months out of the year because it is so effing hot in this place, brutal. Like, I am ugly for four months, brutal.
All I can do is thank God I am not there from June 25 to September 8.
And by the way, the same resentment you people get when you realize I don’t work for three months straight boils up in me when I read these obnoxious articles about how to dress for work when it is a nuclear winter inside your office and 98 degrees when you step outside.
Grab that heinous cable knit sweater and stop talking to me.