Interview With a Teacher #11: Ms. D.

A big thank you to Ms. D for being the first teacher to participate in my second round of interviews. I admit, I got tired just reading about your day. I never thought I was cut out to be an elementary teacher, and this interview confirms it. Your students (and their parents) are so fortunate to have you caring about their mental and emotional well-being. I wish I could gift you more sick days. ❤️

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A Note About These Interviews:

I taught seventh grade for almost twenty years and was constantly surprised at the difference between what friends, family, parents, neighbors, and community members imagined my job was like and what it actually was like. The few times I had the privilege of inviting a friend or family member to visit my classroom, they always left wide-eyed and exhausted. The purpose of these interviews is to allow the world a glimpse inside the lives of current educators. Now that I’ve quit teaching, I want to do what I can to support all the teachers still fighting the good fight, and I don’t want to forget what life is like inside a school.

All questions are optional. For confidentiality and privacy purposes, the name of the teacher’s school will not be published, and they may choose how they refer to themselves. (Full name, initials only, or even simply “Teacher.”) Participants have been asked to refrain from using student names or to change names.

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Interview With Ms. D:

A bouquet of weeds, picked at recess and tied with a paper towel from the bathroom, left on Ms. D’s desk next to her lunch.
  1. What is today’s date?

    February 16, 2023

  2. How old are you?


  3. How many years (total) have you been teaching?


  4. In what city and state do you teach?

    Kyle, TX

  5. What is your current salary?


  6. What grade(s) and subject(s) do you currently teach?

    5th grade ELAR & social studies

  7. How many students do you teach total?


  8. How many conference periods do you have per day?


  9. If you teach multiple classes, how many students are in your smallest class and your largest class?

    Smallest: 22, Largest: 25

  10. Tell us about your day today. 

    After being up from 3-5 AM with my 1-year-old, I got out of bed at 6. I got to school at 7:05, running late as usual. At 9, we took our students on a tour of the middle school they will attend next year. The visit made my heart hurt a little since I spent my first 13 years teaching 7th and 8th grade, and I really do miss it. Our kids were so excited and nervous. One of my students puked in the bleachers. I hadn’t planned much for the rest of the day when we got back because I didn’t know how long the tour would take or how much time we’d have afterward, and that turned out to be a good thing. They had lots of questions when we returned like if they’d have recess, what locker rooms are like, and if they could date people in middle school. Then, I took them outside to write messages of kindness on the sidewalks with chalk. At least 5 of them wrote “Your awwsome” or some misspelled variation. At lunch I had leftovers from our Valentine’s party the previous day, and at recess a kid ran around me in circles for several minutes while 3 others told me about the drama they were having with a friend. I had to send at least 5 students to the nurse for various medical complaints — something is definitely going around. My partner teacher was sick too and had a sub, so my afternoon class came to me with all sorts of reports about bad behavior and complaints about each other. I spent the rest of my time with them playing counselor and having a whole-class meeting. We rolled out our “Peace Path” and I mediated conflicts ranging from “She patted me on the head, and I didn’t like it” to “They were talking when the sub told them to stop” to “I hated it when so-and-so tried to join my conversation with my friend.” After dismissal, I monitored students in the gym while they waited for parent pick-up.

  11. What’s the best thing about being a teacher?

    It truly never gets boring. There is something new and challenging every day, if not every minute. I am constantly learning something new about my content, a student, or myself, and I get to be creative to tackle new situations. Plus, kids keep me entertained! They are weird, funny, and they see the world in a totally different way.

  12. What’s the hardest thing about being a teacher?

    I could answer this question differently every year (or even every day), but in this moment, the hardest part is the way it drains my emotional resources. I expend so much patience and empathy throughout the day with my students, I have little for my own family or even myself by the time I get home. I feel wrung out.

  13. What one thing would make your job better? I’m sure there are many, but if you could choose only one, which would have the biggest impact?

    I suppose my biggest gripe right now (and for the last 4 years, really) is the lack of family leave offered to parents. I had been teaching for 9 years before I had my first child, and I had lots of PTO saved up. Between the births of my 2 children and their endless illnesses, I ended last year having used up all of my days and having money deducted from my paycheck for the days I didn’t have but “got” to use because of FMLA. I started this year with 10 days, and I had used 7 of them before November because of my kids getting sick. Taking personal time or mental health days is completely out of the question.

  14. How satisfied are you with your current job? (1 = not at all satisfied, 5 = very satisfied)


  15. As of right now, do you plan to continue teaching next year?

    My answer to this question also changes every week, but right now I am seriously considering a different career for next year. However, I know with certainty that I will miss parts of teaching, and I do have hopes that I’ll want to return someday.

Teacher, I want to tell you something, and I want you to listen. You are amazing. You are creative and smart and hardworking and beautiful. You are valued by those who are paying attention, and you deserve so much more than you receive from society. You are a superhero, and the world is a better place with you in it. Thank you for everything you do for your students, your community, and your fellow teachers. I appreciate you and this glimpse into your world. ❤️

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If you are a current teacher who would like to be interviewed for my blog or if you know a teacher I should interview, contact me!

Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, and The Ghostly Tales of Burlington in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

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