As students, it can be easy to have a rose-tinted idea of what the future will look like: no more late-night studying or working. Instead, your new routine will be waking up early for some morning yoga and coffee to prepare for a day teaching little ones.

But once graduation is complete, and we’re fully-fledged elementary school teachers, the reality and our vision of the future don’t add up. Morning yoga and time for coffee? Throw that out the window for last-minute marking. Arriving at work poised and ready for the day? More like running in last minute without even running a brush through your hair.

Instead, a standard morning consists of:
  • Wake up in a panic, realizing you forgot to complete my lesson plan from the night before
  • Forgo the pressed coffee at home in exchange for a Starbucks special on the way in
  • Rush into class just before the kids to find the whole room in disarray from the previous day
  • Rinse and repeat

Teaching is way harder than was suggested. But we wouldn’t change it for the world. So for the average elementary school teacher, what does our morning look like if it’s not full of sunshine, coffee, and plenty of planning time before the day ahead? We all like to think that we’ll have a solid classroom morning routine in place, but often that’s not quite the reality. Here’s a sneak peek into what the average morning looks like for a real-life elementary teacher:

Playing catch-up is part of day-to-day life

Life as a teacher when you’re single or coupled-up can already feel like playing catch-up. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. But on the plus side, during the times you did get ahead and become organized, you feel like you’re on top of the world. But throw your own kids into that mix?

If you’re lucky enough to have some little ones of your own, then catch-up and the constant feeling of trying – but not quite managing – to get ahead is a common one. Whether it’s lesson planning, last night’s marking or an event the following week, a spare minute is never a spare minute. That’s just something all teachers get used to when it comes to their mornings.

Admin is a million miles away

We all dream of waltzing into the classroom a half-hour early, plenty of time to make an excellent coffee and set ourselves up on the computer to sort through our inbox. But the reality is, with such an early start, we often find ourselves dashing into class a mere few moments before our students – or making up for the prep work we didn’t get around to the previous day.

Mornings are not an admin-friendly time. Instead, relegate them to after-school hours, and you’ll be left with a far greater chance of success.

You’ll never look as polished as you do in your head

It would be wonderful if we were all the image of Miss Honey from Matilda 24/7, but when dealing with a group of rowdy elementary school students, that just doesn’t match up to reality. You might start the day looking polished and professional, but by the end of your first lesson that won’t be the case.

So instead, we throw on whatever’s clean, hope our hair is presentable and make our way to the classroom without too much fear of the visual consequence. Unless it’s observation day, of course, which we always forget about until about 30 minutes beforehand.

What does your morning look like as an elementary school teacher?