Amber Guerreiro felt exhausted one Friday night, so the Greenville Middle School teacher wrote her thoughts down, titled “A Day in the Life of a Teacher,” and put it on Facebook. She thought a few teacher friends might relate. Her post went viral with more than 108,000 shares.
What was it that resonated with so many people? I think for teachers to see what their workday looked like in a list almost justified the extreme mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that teachers face on a daily basis. It makes you realize, “Gosh, I am doing a lot.”
Non-educators commented also. It was encouraging to hear from people who are not in the field but are relatives of an educator, or have a child in school, or even remember a wonderful teacher, and hear them say, “I had no idea what a teacher’s day looked like until I saw this list.”
Did you read all of the comments? It felt overwhelming, so I could not read all of the comments. I would love to do that someday. But I received 40 or 50 personal messages through Facebook Messenger, and responded personally. The majority said, “I needed to read this today. Thank you.” And some of them were so positive and inspiring. It was sweet for people to take the time to send a note of encouragement to a stranger.
Many commenters thanked you for speaking the truth. I think there’s a collective fear with educators to talk openly about the expectations and demands of their job. Many people shared potential repercussions they feared if they were to speak up. That being said, there were administrators and superintendents who messaged to say, “This is our reality, and just know we are all on the same team.” And I do know that. Everybody is trying their hardest to find a balance between meeting what our state is saying is a requirement but also providing the best education possible for our students. I just think somewhere it was forgotten that teachers are only human.
If you could change one thing about the state of public education, what would it be? I wish that we were not such a standardized-test-driven nation. I wish that the data weren’t the only reflection of our school systems that the public saw. I wish instead people understood the true heart of their children’s teachers and how we are attempting to meet the needs of all of our students because we care about them and want them to learn. It just feels like the standardized tests have become what education is centered around instead of the child.
Why do you keep teaching? What feeds you? It’s the connection with my students—100 percent. It is not only getting to know my students as people but helping them realize their teachers are regular people too and that we truly want what is best for them. I think every student that comes into Greenville Public Schools knows that.
What has been the reaction in your community? People have been very receptive. I was surprised at the number of parents that contacted me with a note or face to face to give words of praise and affirmation. I was also excited to hear from other teachers that parents of their students had made an effort to say how much they appreciate them. That made my heart happy.
Is it tiring to have this attention on you? Yes. I feel like as teachers we are under the microscope, and with this the zoom was turned on, but I’m willing to be put out of my comfort zone if it makes a difference.
Has anyone read it that you really wanted to see it? Hmm. I was hoping that maybe Ms. DeVos would give me a call and ask to meet for coffee. But she has not reached out yet!
Does all of this reaction make you feel hopeful? It does. I feel excited because teachers are incredible problem solvers, so when we are feeling united in this journey to truly provide the best education possible for our students, it gives us a little burst of energy to look at ways to do things differently that are within our power. I also read quite a few comments about setting priorities and boundaries, and I’m trying to be more proactive in that. It’s difficult, but I’m trying.