The Personal Lives of Teachers (Or: The Personal Lives? Of Teachers?)

One of the big underlying themes of my novel, Adequate Yearly Progress, is how teachers’ personal lives impact their teaching, and vice versa. I’ve written elsewhere about some of the problematic portrayals of teachers in the media: single-adjective characters who, whether they appear in inspirational edu-dramas or comedies about role models acting badly, never quite turn into people.

Even the most well-meaning and complimentary descriptions of teaching lack a certain complexity. Teachers are so patient. They’re essential workers. They are heroes, responding to a calling expressed on the side of a tote bag that you can read thanks to a teacher who was created because God couldn’t be everywhere.

All of the above is lovely. And it’s not wrong, exactly. Teachers are great!

But teachers are also people. They spend just as much time thinking about family, friendship, fitness, and finances as people whose jobs are never described as a superpower or a “work of heart.”

“Personal life? What’s a personal life?” you just asked, with a knowing, bitter laugh.


Maybe classroom difficulties are sapping your confidence. Maybe some combination of exhaustion and a never-done to-do list makes you wonder when you’ll have time to meet and date people, or whether your existing relationships and friendships will last, or whether you’ll have time to spend with your own kids. But also, maybe the school bell is about to ring in three minutes to start yet another day, and you don’t have time for existential questions right now.

Rare is the teacher who can walk into class at her best when things aren’t going well personally, or who can fully leave behind a chaotic day of teaching when he goes home. And sometimes teachers’ professional lives can mirror their personal lives in unexpected ways. On a normal day, hearing a highschooler call your class boring might be a forgettably small bummer. It hits harder when you’re going through a breakup and your ex is “looking for someone more spontaneous.” Likewise, calling a parent because a student is misbehaving feels much more fraught if you’re fielding similar calls from your child’s teacher.

See Me After Class Office Hours are a form of one-on-one professional development that sometimes focuses purely on a classroom concern. Other times, teachers are looking for tools to manage the blurry lines between their personal and professional lives. It may be that your real question is about finding ways to enjoy teaching more so you can be a happier person—or, on the flip side, addressing a personal problem that’s finding its way into your classroom so you can become a better teacher.

Either way, I’m here for you, and I’m happy to talk about whatever is on your mind.

If you’d like help setting up a game plan specific to your own life and classroom, you can book a session of See Me After Class Office Hours using the calendar below.

Office Hours can help you regain perspective and help you figure out how to take care of your students, and yourself, and your life outside of teaching. Because, yes—you are supposed to have a life outside of teaching.

Simply choose one of the options below and click the “Book Me” button to select an available time from the calendar. If you experience any technical difficulties, you can also try this direct link to the booking page.