1. Convince yourself to wake up—and find the coffee.
You wake up at the crack of dawn. Your alarm clock has no sympathy for the fact that you stayed up late grading papers and worrying about that kid in your 2nd period. You think of reasons why you need to call in sick, but decide that it will be more work to find a substitute than to actually teach. You ask yourself irrational questions like, “Do I REALLY need this job?” and “What will happen if I just go back to sleep?” You eventually silence the questions with thoughts of, “I have bills to pay” and “my kids would be lost without me.” You get up drudgingly and after a cup of coffee, decide that maybe, just maybe, this day won’t be so bad after all.
2. Mentally go through the day’s To-Do list.
You walk down the hallway toward your classroom with your mind working at a maximum capacity, filtering 93654578 thoughts per minute: “I need to make copies. I need to write the bell work on the board. I need to get Austin’s make-up work together. I need to catch Jenny up to speed after her surgery. We need to review thesis statements one more time before the test. I need to keep a positive attitude today and not let the little things get to me.” You flip the light on, set that second cup of coffee on your desk, and take in the momentary silence of the classroom—all before 7 a.m.
3. Do and say ALL THE THINGS.
The next few hours are a whirlwind of teaching, disciplining, counseling, and surviving. It’s a blur of raised hands and exchanged words every time you turn your back. It’s a repetitive sound machine of statements: “The papers go in the box in the front. You just used the bathroom ten minutes ago. Stop talking. Listen. Good job. That’s right. Yes. No. Yes. No. I’ll see you all tomorrow!” You’ll repeat it all every period, every day.
4. Use your planning period SUPER WISELY.
It’s your planning period! The angels sing and all is quiet again (although your room now resembles a trash can.) You stare blankly at the wall for a moment because you have lost all ability to think coherently. You regain your composure and try to decide how to spend your short time before your classroom is full again. Should I finish my lesson plans? Should I enter my grades? Should I eat a quick snack? Should I organize this unruly desk? Should I just lay my head down and soak up the solitude? And, your time is up.
You drudge through the end of the day with more caffeine-fueled enthusiasm, while knowing that the finish line is near. You feel the mental exhaustion creeping in and just when you think your head will explode, it’s time for the kids to load the buses. You think—“Did we cover everything today? Did I do enough for them?” And you did. Tomorrow, you’ll do it again.