'Dear Teacher, I see you – and I thank you.'

Dear Teacher, 

I see you.

I see you waking up, your thoughts immediately sifting through today’s mental to-do list. 

The printer was out of toner yesterday. Fingers crossed you can print today’s activities before your morning meetings. 

Ooft, you forgot to reply to that email from Lily’s mum. Must do that as soon as possible.

I see you munching your cereal and scrolling Instagram. Oh, your kids would LOVE that number activity – click SAVE. What a brilliant hack for letter reversals – SAVE.

I see you spending your commute mentally rearranging your classroom seating plan. It’s only 7:30am but the school car park is full. The office staff aren’t here yet – the printing will have to wait. No problem, there’s plenty to do in your classroom. Ha, think again! 

One of those pesky pigeons was locked in the building all night. It’s pooped everywhere. 

Teacher? Add animal wrangler and cleaner to that job description.

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I see your flurry of activity for the next half hour. 

Engaging activities are lovingly set up. Desks are swapped around – you cross your fingers that it leads to improved focus. Small miracle – someone’s replaced the toner, so you hurriedly print today’s lessons. 

You run through the timetable. At least, the plan that’s on paper. In reality, you know you’ll be re-calibrating and adjusting the entire day.

Your computer spends the entire time simply booting up.

I see you taking some deep breaths before collecting Robbie’s parents for a meeting. You pull out the detailed notes that you prepared yesterday evening. However, they don’t want to discuss strategies for supporting Robbie’s learning at home. They want your advice on his tantrums at night. Robbie’s mum begins to cry. As they gratefully leave your classroom 30 minutes later, you dash to your staff communication meeting.

Teacher... And counsellor.

I see you sitting through a meeting that could have been an email.

I see you heading outside to pick up your class. Your heart expands as you spot your little crew of adoring fans! They’re excitedly telling you about lost teeth and other monumental events in the life of a five-year-old. 


Rose reminds you it’s now 43 days until her birthday. Various mums "quickly mention" that Grandma is doing afternoon pickup. Jude has lost his seventh hat. Noah is nervous about delivering news today. You smile and nod, desperately hoping that these little nuggets of information won’t fall out of your brain the moment you walk away.

As you enter your classroom, I see you cheering up a teary Lettie while raising an eyebrow at Charlie, who’s contemplating rolling under a desk – he decides against it. Jeremy is telling you about his third favourite reptile, Tilly, needs a Band-Aid – and don't forget, the roll MUST be marked by 9:05 if you want to avoid the name-and-shame over the school PA system.

Teacher? Add comedian, nurse and admin officer to the CV.

I see your morning pass in a blur. Lara has an 'aha' moment as you read with her, and you feel a rush of satisfaction – THIS is why you do what you do.


Tim beams from ear to ear as you show his work to the class. You begin your writing lesson, but immediately realise it’s too tricky, so you switch gears and adapt the lesson on the spot. Noah nails his 'news' and looks completely chuffed.

Teacher? You’re also a coach, cheerleader and so flexible that you’re practically a gymnast.

I see you at recess, sprinting to the bathroom before setting up your maths activities. You ambitiously pull out your assessment book, hoping to jot down some anecdotal lesson observations for upcoming reports. I see that book remain on your desk throughout the lesson, as you instead respond to student needs, manage a disagreement over who won a game, fix the glitching smart board, solve the mystery of the missing eraser... Oh, and teach.

Teacher? Add detective, mediator and computer technician.

I see you on your lunch break, which isn’t a break at all. Julian forgot his food, so you make him a cheese sandwich. You’re constantly triaging while you’re on duty – which battles to pick, which ones to ignore? You’re called in to determine which group of Year 4 boys won a very tense game of handball.


Teacher? Add cook and referee.

I see you scoffing your sandwich as you take your students upstairs after lunch. 

I see you delighting them during story-time and demonstrating the patience of a saint as you navigate an afternoon filled with paints and excitable little bodies. I see you trying not to laugh when Florence tells you her mum thinks the sports teacher is ‘very handsome’.

Teacher? Add performer, artist and accidental confidante.

I see you navigating the end-of-day chaos like a pro. Bags on backs, hats on heads, hugs and high-fives all around as your little cherubs head home. You’re desperate to clean up the paint explosion in your classroom, but it’s grade meeting time.

You spend the next hour discussing all the diverse learning needs of your students, assessment and reporting deadlines, and divvying up jobs for the week – excursion plans, Grandparents' Day assembly, K-2 athletics carnival roster.

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Teacher? Add an assessor, reporter and event coordinator.


I see you, finally back in your classroom, wondering why you ever thought it was a good idea to pull out the paints today. I see you completing mountains of required admin – registering lessons, annotating programs, marking books, and completing a compulsory online training that you’ve just realised is due tomorrow.

I see your thoughts ticking over as you drive home and cook dinner, brainstorming ideas to try with that particularly cliquey group of girls. I see you on the couch after dinner, reading up on strategies for supporting students with ADHD and jotting down fine motor tips to help your kids struggling with handwriting.

Teacher? Add a psychologist, researcher and occupational therapist.

I see you crashing into bed, wondering why you’re so exhausted before you remember that the average teacher makes 1,500 decisions per day. Ahhh, that could be it. As you drift towards sleep, you remember that you FORGOT TO REPLY TO LILY’S MUM!

You’ll do it first thing tomorrow morning.

Dear Teacher, I see you.

And I simply want to say… thank you.

Tamsin Milledge is a former assistant principal and co-founder of The Hive, an online platform of educational resources for teachers. Follow her at @MrsLearningBee.

Feature Image: Getty.

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