To Every Teacher Going Back to Work This Week

Hey teacher,

It’s almost noon on Sunday and I am still in my pajamas sipping from a mug of coffee.

Tomorrow at this time, I will have seen over 85 students, 3 different classes, and will probably even be in real clothes, potentially even with my hair done and not slicked back in a messy ponytail. #ambitious

It seems a little daunting. I don’t even remember how to pack a lunch. Do I really shape young lives for a living?

After two blissful weeks of vacation, holiday and family time, and lots, lots more sleep than I am used to, the thought of walking into my classroom tomorrow, flipping on those lights and welcoming little bodies into my room is enough to make me crawl back into bed.

I can count the number of times I have worn makeup during this break on one hand.  I didn’t use my teacher voice. I didn’t hear “Ms. Wiley” at all, and I didn’t touch a lesson plan.

I watched 17 episodes of “Lock up: Women behind Bars” on Netflix and didn’t set an alarm when I went to bed #lifeontheedge.

I got a flat tire late in the evening, but didn’t have to stress out because it wasn’t a “school night” and I hadn’t set an unrealistic bedtime for myself.

It was wonderful.

But it’s not what I was born to do.

I’m a teacher, and these breaks are absolutely necessary and totally key in our mental, physical and emotional health, but now it’s time to go back.

It’s time to walk back into your classroom and do what you love to do.

Because you do love it.

At the core of what teaching is, you love it.

At the beginning of the year, we are sun-kissed and fully rejuvenated. In September, after a long summer break, our classrooms are organized and our outfits are picked out and that “new school year buzz” circulates around the building.

Heading back to work after Winter Break is a whole different ballgame.

We face the dreaded winter months. The Holidays are over and the only visions dancing in our head are hopes for a snow day…or six.

But still, we press on. It’s time to go back to work.

You see, teacher, you have a high and holy calling on your life.

Through all of the turmoil in the education system, through every long day and working lunch, one thing makes it worth it for me every time: the faces.


Forget about the “extras” for a second with me.

Just picture the faces.

The ones of kiddos that even though they wouldn’t admit it, cannot wait to see you tomorrow and have spent break feeling alone and unloved.

The ones that have made you those drawings of unidentified objects on ripped out pieces of lined paper and check back a week later to see if you still have it.

Think of the face of the student that needs an excessive amount of hugs every day because she doesn’t get any at home.

Picture the face of the studious, high achieving student that lives and breathes for school.

Remember what it feels like to read the words of a letter a student wrote you, telling you how much you mean to him/her and how you’re their favorite teacher (who cares if they say it to their teacher every year. It’s your year).

Picture the crocodile tears of a student who can’t handle his emotions and just needs to cry to you because he can’t find his lunch card.

Envision the look a student has on his face when he finally grasps something he has been struggling with for months.

Just for a second, forget about the “other stuff” with me.

Just for today, focus on the faces. The faces of those little, or big, kiddos that you are entrusted with this year.

You mean the world to them. The calling on your life right now is to walk back into your second home, your classroom, and love and teach those kids with everything in you.

It’s exhausting and the days are long. You might go in when the sun hasn’t even risen and go home long after it’s gone down, but you put in those hours because of one reason: love.

Like it or not, school starts again tomorrow, and if I have learned one lesson from my short 5 years of teaching, it is that attitude is everything. I have had days I taught with a horrible attitude, and days I taught with a fantastic attitude.

I bet you can guess which days went well.

Tomorrow we will be tempted to complain to each other about how break was too short and we aren’t ready to be back.

Of course we will miss family time and sleep and being a normal-functioning human, but instead of feeling a little bit of dread or uneasiness about going back tomorrow, let’s face it with excitement.

It’s not a new school year, but it’s a new year. A new start. No matter how the first part of your year went, this is an opportunity to have a fresh slate and begin again.

We will spend the next few months zipping up coats,  tying shoelaces (sometimes wet shoelaces), helping kids find their mittens, giving directions to change from their boots to their gym shoes, counseling friend problems,  taking patient breaths when a student says

“I have a connection…” and oh yeah, teaching.

Remember your calling. Embrace it.

And  if all else fails, text me your coffee order. I do deliveries.

Go change some lives tomorrow. Maybe there will even be a few straggler presents that they forgot to give you before break #dreambigforgiftcards.

We will start the Spring Break Countdown in February and I will hit you with another post for the homestretch πŸ˜‰

And if you need just a LITTLE bit more of a reminder why you should get up tomorrow, check out 11 Reasons Teaching is the BEST! You haven’t lived until you have been told you look like a burnt hotdog.


Teach on, Teacher Friend. Start tomorrow with a dance party.


Would love to hear from you! I am treasuring EVERY single message, comment and post from people all across the country. My little blog has been shared all over, and my heart gets a little fuller with each message and story I hear. I would just love to hear from you. Teaching is the best family. 


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Third graders know exactly how to write encouragement cards.

You heard the girl! Reach your heart out and be a diamond!

And never forget to reach for the stars for your life!


135 Comments Add yours

  1. elisesilvey says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. We had a work day today, so I feel a bit more prepared for tomorrow’s arrival of my kiddos…but still anxious like the first day! πŸ˜› I’m a first year and it’s so hard to just focus on the “faces” and not everything else. Thanks for your reminder! Here’s to tomorrow, a new year, a good attitude, and 6:00 a.m. mornings! πŸ™‚


    1. jennakay says:

      The 6:00 am morning was what I had pep talked myself for….until it was 7:15 and I was still in bed this morning! HA! Hope your exit from bed was a little more graceful than mine and you had a great first day back! πŸ™‚


  2. Carrie says:

    I am not a teacher, no where in the vicinity. I am a welder, but first I was a student. I am 42, and I can remember all of my teachers and what each meant to me. I had something of a troubled home life that no one knew anything about. School was my escape, and at times heavenly sanctuary. I liked all of my teachers, and along the way I would cross paths with a few that I very much connected with. Some I didnt realize how much I cared about, or how much they cared about me, until many years later. Many of them I have reconnected with via Facebook. I was astounded that some of them even remembered me.
    Your post touched my heart, and made me laugh. We get breaks at my work around the major holidays, and lets faceit, who ever really wants to go back to the grind. So I thank you and all teachers past and present for making the sacrifices that you do. For teaching beyond the the academics, for taking the time to care, and for sometimes unknowingly and simply by your actions, example and generosity of spirit giving lost or broken children the hope and encouragement they need to believe the are intelligent. To belielve that things won’t always be bad, and that safety and love can be found in this world. To give them the foundation academically, mentally, and emotionally to grow up to become fully fuctional, fearless, and successful adults.
    Once again, and tearful thank you to all of my former teachers, even the tough ones, and a sincere heartfelt thank you to all teachers everywhere that believe in what they do and why they do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jennakay says:

      Carrie, I hope you don’t mind, but I shared your message with my entire teaching staff. Your words and anecdotes about your time as a student are the perfect example of why teachers do it. Thank you SO much for sharing your story and for reaching out to me and all teachers. I can’t tell you enough how touching this was to read…you put tears in MY eyes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am very happy to be a substitute(supply) teacher. I get the best of both worlds. Teach when I want, days off when I need them. πŸ™‚

    Great post.


    1. jennakay says:

      You have SUCH an important job…Thank you for all you do for teachers and students! Thanks for the encouragement!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kimberly says:

    This was awesome!! Thank you! I feel a little better about going to work with the students I teach. Yes, I have been back now for 2 days and I still get the extra couple hugs from high school students saying they missed me over break. That’s the “good extra stuff.”


    1. jennakay says:

      2 days down! Today was great for me…I have my prep at the end of the day and by the time it hits 2:45 I pretty much just stare blankly at my computer! HA! So many sweet little faces and hugs today for me too πŸ™‚ Have a great hump day tomorrow…then it is Friday eve! Thanks for the comment, Kimberly!


  5. Tami Lake says:

    This is so very perfect!! Also, the “I have a connection” part….so funny and so, so true. πŸ˜‰


    1. jennakay says:

      Oh those little words that seem to take us on a tangent we couldn’t possibly dream of! LOL thanks for the comment, Tami! Have a great rest of the week πŸ™‚


  6. MP says:

    Thank you so much for this! This is my first year, and I left in December feeling guilty about how excited I was to not see my kids for 2 weeks. But this reminds me why we entered into that crazy world called Education and gets me excited for the kids to come back tomorrow! πŸ™‚


    1. jennakay says:

      Never feel guilty for needing that break! It is how we make it! ESPECIALLY during year 1. Hope your year is off to a wonderful start and thanks for reading and comments! πŸ™‚


  7. Sherri says:

    Great post to read before going back!


    1. jennakay says:

      Thank you for reading, Sherri!!


  8. Andie Johnson says:

    Thank you for this inspiring message. As I lay here, trying to get some sleep, all I can think about are my school babies. I truly love what I do and love my kids. Yes, I will miss my own girls; however, knowing I am making a difference keeps me going. Thanks again! Andie


    1. jennakay says:

      I don’t have kids of my own, but I have a special respect in my heart for Teacher Moms. They are truly the heroes of the world!! Have an amazing week with those sweet babes!!


  9. Paula says:

    Thank you so much for writing these encouraging words. Sometimes as a teacher you don’t see how you effect others and these words bring forward the reason why we are teachers or in some capacity work with children.


    1. jennakay says:

      It is SO hard to see past the daily grind. Thank you for reading and heading back to your kids with an awesome attitude!! Good luck this week, Paula!


  10. Thank you for this! I teach in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. So your blog gets around. 😊 What a blessing to read and relate to every word. This is only my second year teaching but your blog is so relevant! Bless you dearly. Teaching is family.


    1. jennakay says:

      That is so amazing!! Teaching is family- even when we are continents away!! Thank you so much for reading and commenting:) Have a great week bad with those sweet ones!!!


  11. dazzles012 says:

    Love, love, love this! Thanks for sharing!


    1. jennakay says:

      Thank you!!! Good luck with your kiddos πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jami Burtis says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have been a teacher for many years, but this year was personally a challenging year. Maybe that contributes to the reason it had been a more difficult year professionally. This is what I nweed though…fresh start with those faces tomorrow!


    1. jennakay says:

      Yes! New beginnings tomorrow! I am sorry to hear it has been a challenging year- praying for a peaceful and wonderful rest of the year for you!!!


  13. rachellerose3 says:

    Thank you for this! Truly.
    I’m a first year teacher and the fall, well…it had its ups and downs. I’m so excited to go back and start fresh. This semester things will be great! Because those faces need it and deserve it. Thanks for the pep talk!


    1. jennakay says:

      Oh girl! The second half with be SO much better! If you made it through the first half of your first year, you’re basically a veteran teacher;) It gets so much better!! Have an awesome week- I love “because those faces need it and deserve it” So true.


  14. Thanks. I needed that. I have 26 students this year……17 of which have received special services at some time in their academic career. Today was one of those days when I’m about ready to pull my hair out if one more kid says my name one more time…..and then, little Johnny pulls out the picture he drew for me over break. There’s a Christmas tree with no gifts underneath, no cozy fire, no other people, but just me and Johnny. I have my arms stretched out and Johnny is about ready to run straight into them. “Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Williams.I missed you so much,” he’s saying. “Okay little Johnny,” I thought,”You can say my name as many times as you want to.” Welcome home my cantankerous, aggravating, noisy,demanding, children. We are a family.


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