“Sometimes, kids make me cry.”
“I forget to eat lunch most days.”
“My anxiety runs my life some days.”
These are just a handful of the confessions that teachers have shared as part of the #TeachersAreHuman movement that’s making waves on Instagram. The intent of the movement is to give society (and fellow teachers!) a gentle reminder that teachers are more than just teachers—they’re humans, too. Humans with lives, families, passions, and flaws.
Often, these confessions are raw, personal, and emotional, addressing some of the dark corners of the education industry that can be hard to talk about (like anxiety, teacher burnout, and school climate). But mostly, these confessions are real and honest in a cathartic and refreshing way.
The Confession That Sparked a Movement
Let’s #TBT (that’s “turn back time” in Insta speak) to the post that sparked the #TeachersAreHuman movement.
On October 22, Megan Fairchild, an eighth grade English/language arts teacher in Topeka, Kansas, posted on @MissFairchildsMuggles about how difficult this year has been. Fairchild’s Instagram posts are usually about her favorite books, reading strategies, and teacher life. She’s known for her funny and relatable Instagram stories and creative approaches to ELA curriculum.
But this post was different. In it, Fairchild was candid about some of the struggles she’s been facing this year at school and in her personal life.
“I’m not sure what it is but it just feels like something isn’t clicking in the classroom,” said Fairchild in her post.
She said she texted her principal asking for a last-minute personal day to take care of her mental health.
“I need time for myself. I needed to go for a walk with my sister’s dog. I needed time to sleep,” said Fairchild. “And you know what? That is OKAY.”
View this post on Instagram
A week or so ago I shared my #teachersarehuman post and the response just blew me away! It was so comforting to me and all the other teachers to see, hear, and connect with teachers about our humanity! Because of the response, my friend Mike- @its_mr.mcgowen – reaches out and discussed how we could make even more teachers be heard. So here we are: our #teachersarehuman campaign!✊🏼 For too long the humanity has been taken out of teaching and teachers. They spend their days working with youth from so many backgrounds, and their work often comes home with them. It’s important to remember that #teachersarehuman & they are more than just a teacher. I love being a teacher, but I also love being a human and my life outside of teaching. That’s why I teamed up with the AMAZING @its_mr.mcgowen and other amazing educators to share what makes me, and you, and us, all amazing HUMANS! So, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! What makes YOU a human?! Screenshot the image when you swipe on this post OR print a copy for yourself from my shared Google Drive! Share & this image with the hashtag #teachersarehuman and tag @missfairchildsmuggles and @its_mr.mcgowen
A post shared by m e g a n (@missfairchildsmuggles) on Nov 7, 2019 at 3:27pm PST
What Happened Next
It took a lot of chutzpah for Fairchild to publish the post. She admitted that she’d debated even posting it in the first place.
Why is it so “gutsy” to admit to needing a mental health day?
Why must teachers sacrifice their own mental health and well-being for their students, day after day?
Fairchild put herself out there for all to judge—but that’s not what happened. Instead of judgement, Fairchild’s post was received with love and support. Teachers commented, reminding her that she is not alone.
“I thought it was just me,” one teacher replied.
“Sometimes it really is hard to remember that I do have a life outside of teaching,” commented another teacher. “I spend so much of my time in the classroom and prepping for it out of the classroom. It is hard for me to accept that I am a human outside of it all sometimes.”
The post resonated and sparked conversation with many educators who felt the same way. It particularly struck a chord with Mike McGowen, a second grade teacher in Township, New Jersey.
“I, personally, have struggled to find that work-life balance, ask for help and separate myself from my classroom and students,” said McGowen.
He reached out to Fairchild to share how deeply the post had impacted him.
Fairchild and McGowen put their heads together to launch the #TeachersAreHuman movement as an outlet for educators to break down barriers and share their humanity. They designed a template for teachers to print out and share their confession. Then they asked a close group of teacher friends to be the firsts to share what makes them human. It wasn’t long before hundreds of other teachers joined in.
The Goal of #TeachersAreHuman
Fairchild and McGowen have a simple goal to celebrate imperfections and acknowledge the struggles that educators face.
They want educators to know, “You’re not alone, it’s OKAY to not be perfect, and it’s okay to share those imperfections with others,” said McGowen.
“It’s been so refreshing to see teacher voices centered and shared in such a real way,” said Fairchild.” It’s created a sense of community among teachers—new and veteran alike—and it has been amazing seeing all the posts shared.”
8 #TeachersAreHuman Posts That Caught Our Eye
To date, there are nearly 500 public posts on Instagram sharing the #TeachersAreHuman hashtag. The confessions range from emotional and poignant to funny and relatable.
We selected a some posts that stood out to us.
1. Teachers need SEL strategies too.
“The expectations of teaching can be overwhelming & more often than not, we are working overtime and/or on weekends. (I try not to!)” writes Tamara Moore, aka @ifpencilscouldtalk “It’s important that we remember that #teachersarehuman and sometimes we need a little extra love, too!”
2. Lawmakers, students, parents (and yes, teachers) need to remember that #TeachersAreHuman.
“Teachers are human. You’re probably thinking that’s an obvious statement, but I think sometimes people forget.” writes Camile, aka @inliteralcolor.
“I think lawmakers forget we are human when they pass yet another policy without consulting us. I think some parents forget when they ask for unreasonable things or blame teachers for everything. I know students definitely forget (or did they ever really know?) because in their minds we are some sort of other worldly beings who exist only at school. And I think we forget too. We forget because every day we are asked to do the impossible. And then when we do it, we get asked to do even more.”
“But ya know what? We need to remember that teachers are human. Because maybe if we did, we would have a whole lot more happy teachers, which would lead to a whole lot more joy and learning for everyone. So here’s me admitting that I’m a human. I’m not perfect, and I don’t ever want to be. I’m whole and awesome and capable. I’m exactly who I’m meant to be.”
3. Everybody farts.
“Yes, sometimes a fart slips out during a lesson and I blame it on whoever is closest to me. We’re in 5th grade so it’s believable!” confesses Autumn Rodriguez, aka @imwithfifth.
“All jokes aside, I’m a teacher but I’m also human. Sometimes I think we are held to higher standards than what we are given. I’m messy, I feel lazy sometimes, my students push my buttons-even when I love them so much I can squeeze them, and I’ll have papers to grade until I retire. Does that make me a bad teacher? Nope! It just makes me human.”
4. Being a parent and a teacher is hard.
“My little guy had to help me explain what makes me human: I don’t want my maternity leave to end,” shares @llamawithclass.
“While I LOVE teaching, I don’t want to miss a single snuggle. I am so, so anxious about how in the world I can be a good teacher while also being a good mother.”
5. Students say mean things.
View this post on Instagram
#teachersarehuman Love Actually style. I will share the video to my story as well so I can slow it down a bit. Honestly, I just have too many things to say on this. I think it was the first time that I ever saw myself on a “rate my teachers” page that I thought… It just feels wrong to rate human beings. I chose this job, that’s hard as hell by the way, because I wanted to help kids, and they’re saying nasty things about me? I have to constantly remind myself that they’re just immature, underdeveloped people, even at the high school level. They aren’t always there yet, so sometimes they struggle to realize how they treat others. However, that doesn’t make it any less painful. I’m a person who takes things VERY personally all the time. If you and I go to the movies, and I pick the movie, and you don’t like it…? I’ll feel like I let you down. I try to create meaningful work with a purpose and you choose not to do it? I’ll feel like it’s my fault. Teaching is hard for me because I’m constantly shouldering too much blame when things go wrong; it’s who I am, and it’s unhealthy. I’m human, but I live in a world that seems to expect me to be an emotionless perfect robot. I just can’t meet those expectations. #teachersofinstagram #iteachtoo #iteachhs #2ndaryela #englishteachers #elateacher #teachergram
A post shared by MS. JACKSON-SCHULTZ (@thatawkwardteacher) on Nov 9, 2019 at 5:33am PST
“I think it was the first time that I ever saw myself on a “rate my teachers” page that I thought… It just feels wrong to rate human beings. I chose this job, that’s hard as hell by the way, because I wanted to help kids, and they’re saying nasty things about me?” shares Ms. Jackson-Schultz, aka @thatawkwardteacher.
“I have to constantly remind myself that they’re just immature, underdeveloped people, even at the high school level. They aren’t always there yet, so sometimes they struggle to realize how they treat others. However, that doesn’t make it any less painful. I’m a person who takes things VERY personally all the time. If you and I go to the movies, and I pick the movie, and you don’t like it…? I’ll feel like I let you down. I try to create meaningful work with a purpose and you choose not to do it? I’ll feel like it’s my fault. Teaching is hard for me because I’m constantly shouldering too much blame when things go wrong; it’s who I am, and it’s unhealthy. I’m human, but I live in a world that seems to expect me to be an emotionless perfect robot. I just can’t meet those expectations.”
6. Nothing truly prepares you for being a first-year teacher.
“I don’t believe there is any amount of schooling that can truly prepare you for your first year of teaching,” said Erik Perez, aka @third_grade_perezident.
“There are so many beautiful moments and breakthroughs, but also some significant lows that stem from stress, self deprecation, and other stressors in your personal lives. I am always trying to balance personal stressors with work and unfortunately, I feel guilty for doing things for myself. Although some of my little ones think of me as super human, I’m only human. I have limits, I have needs, I am flawed, but I am me – and that’s enough.”
7. Teachers are dealing with real stuff.
“Sometimes being human means you do what you have to do, even if you live a double life,” shares Julie, aka @thebestdaysclassroom.
“#TeachersAreHuman means we have real stuff in our lives that students don’t know about! How do I manage it all? I remind myself that students don’t need to see a teacher in distress! Plus, a dose of humor helps every time!”
8. Teachers can be proud of their bodies.
“I am NOT a robot. I’m a young vibrant woman full of LIFE and possibilities!” says Shari G., aka @shecanteachtoo.
“I set boundaries for myself, I can rap almost every @yogotti song word for word, and you might see my midriff or a thigh on the weekends. I AM HUMAN! Don’t hold teachers to unrealistic expectations that you don’t even hold for yourself. If my language or outfit offends you while I’m out being a GROWN UP, honey just look the other way because I’m not changing a thing!”
What makes you human? Download the template and share your confession on Instagram with #TeachersAreHuman.
Plus, know that you can always find help and support in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.