Teachers provide new perspective on back to school

An inside look on the teachers’ views of coming back to school


Arianna Jones

Teachers fictitiously gather to share their opinion on the transition between summer and back to school, shedding some light on how stressful it can be for not only their students, but for them as well.

Aspen Earnheart, Reporter

“Stressful”, “Optimistic”, “Excited”. When our own Taylorsville teachers were asked to describe how they felt about school starting again in one word, those were their answers. It’s easy to see how these differ from what a student’s answer would most likely be. Probably something along the lines of “exhausted”, “hungry”, or “homework”.

So the real question here is, are these truthful answers? Are the happy faces that teachers put on genuine, or do they wish they were in bed as much as their students?

One of the most common student complaint about back to school is, of course, the lack of sleep. To gain insight on the teacher perspective, the first place to look would be the classroom.
“It takes awhile to adjust, normally I wake up a little later in the day..I just try to get to bed a little earlier than I did in the summer,” This was Biology and Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Ahmed’s, description of the changes her sleep schedule has undergone with the returning to school.

Ms. Jones, a Health teacher at Taylorsville, had a similar response, “I try to go to bed a lot earlier, so I can get up.” This seems to be the logical thing to do; need to wake up earlier? Then go to bed earlier. However, for teens, it may be easier said than done.

A circadian rhythm: it sounds almost like some rare insect or maybe a New-Age punk band. Don’t be fooled, it is neither of those. A circadian rhythm is your body’s natural wake and sleep cycle, also referred to as a “biological clock”.

According to the Sleep Foundation, adults’ strongest sleep drives generally occur between 2:00-4:00 am and 1:00-3:00 pm. Teens, however, undergo a shift in circadian rhythm during adolescence. “This shift in teens’ circadian rhythm causes them to naturally feel alert later at night, making it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11:00 pm,” states sleepfoundation.org.

With this shift, teens don’t hit their strongest sleep drive until 3:00-7:00am, pushing their sleep cycles close to 4 hours past adults. If teenagers have a hard time falling asleep before 11, and need to be waking up around 6 for school, that leaves them with close to 7 hours of sleep.

“The average amount of sleep that teenagers get is between 7 and 7 ¼ hours. However, they need between 9 and 9 ½ hours,” according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This can explain why it seems that students’ most popular grievance with school is sleep.

We’ve established that students are affected by the shift from summer to school, but are the teachers as well? When asked how her life changed between school and summer, Ahmed provided a new perspective. “Stuff like Mommy and Me time at the library, or going for walks on a trail by my house, those are things I do more often in the summer that I don’t necessarily get the chance to do during the school year.”

“[This summer] I hung out with my kids all the time, just swimming, at the park, riding bikes, and playing outside,” said AVID teacher Jen Johnson when asked how she spent her summer. In response to how her life was affected by the school year, she said, “Going swimming with my kids every day, that’s about the only difference. Just hanging out with my kids more.”

Students often see teachers as robots who live at the school, but that is not the case. They do have families and personal lives that can be altered by school. Something interesting, not taken into account, is the fact that teachers do not work “normal” full time jobs. They do get 3 months off a year to spend with their families, and then abruptly have to return to working 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week. This can be compared to the dramatic shift that teenagers have to make in their sleeping schedules.

This new perspective on teachers can definitely help explain how teachers manage to be so enthusiastic on the first day of school, while students are still dragging from their 4 hours of sleep the night before. Teachers and students are perceived as living in almost completely different worlds, with decades separating them. It’s true, teenagers and adults are hardwired to sleep and wake up at different times. More often than not, school and the working world are centered around the average adult cycle. This makes adjustment for teenagers extremely difficult. However, teachers also face their own obstacles in balancing school and work. Either way, that 5am alarm on a Monday morning comes early for everyone.