How many faces does a teacher need for the first day of school?

People often wonder how a teacher can come home from a short Friday morning at school (08:00-13:00) utterly exhausted.

If they could count the number of different faces I needed this morning, maybe they would understand.


The first face is the obvious one, the one needed by all students, in all classes:

The Welcoming Face – “how are you” “how was your summer vacation” “such a nice haircut you got” “have you seen the New-Year’s Greeting waiting just for you?”


Then there is the pupil who comes to the classroom during the break to tell me that she has already (first day! before her first lesson!)gone to the class website to see which homework I’ve put online for her. She needs to see The Impressed Face – “it’s so nice to see that you are motivated, that you have come to school all energetic”…


Then there are the two 10th grade girls who waltz in on their first day of school eager to test my limits. One tries to make a case for eating her sandwich during the lesson and the other proceeds to pull out hand cream, lipstick and her cell phone. They need The Stern Face.


Then there are the kids who transferred from a regular school, where they were the only kids with a hearing problem in the entire school. Some are a bit in shock either from the behavior of some of the other kids (those limit-testing ones) or from the low level of some of their new peers (I teach EVERY imaginable level!). They need The Reassuring Face – “ this is a learning center, everyone has their own learning plan, you progress at your own level disregardless of whom you sit next to” “everyone will settle down after the initial excitement”…


Then there are the 11th grade students who are disappointed they aren’t going to be studying for the level of “exit exams” they desired (these kids expectations are totally unrealistic). They need The Motivating / Energizing Face – “you know, it is all up to you. the exams are modular and if you study you can progress to the next level”…


I needed The Don’t-Show-Your-Real-Feelings Face for the 10th grader who complained that her New-Year-Greeting wasn’t as pretty as another student’s greeting (I pasted the same text for all onto different colorful photos).


There are more but I feel I am getting tired all over again just thinking about it all. I guess that’s the face I wore on the way to the car: The Tired Teacher Face


Perhaps YOU have faces to add?

8 thoughts on “How many faces does a teacher need for the first day of school?”

  1. I’ve got one to add, Naomi. The face of “Omg – where’s the nearest superhero to break up this fight between kids?”

    that face looks like a combo of split IDs – one frozen in place watching to see if they’ll emerge out of this alive – and the second off at superspeed to produce an iron fist from some other well-muscled colleague.

    It’s an interesting face – requires animation which i’m not equipped to provide – but i think it fits in nicely with your collection.

    recover well. think of the Larger Picture!

    best to you and all of us

  2. Hi Naomi,
    Another great idea 🙂 My ‘face’ isn’t for the first day, but it is one I feel like I’ve been using a lot recently…the ‘it-doesn’t-matter-how-many-times-you-ask-me,-you’re-still-not-ready-to-go-up-to-the-next-level’ face!
    Thanks for making me smile 🙂

  3. I might add the “Fun Face”. Yep, it’s going to be challenging, and yep it is school, but we are going to have fun.I would suggest another title which highlights the underlying theme of all of your faces: “Teachers’ Faces of Love”, because without a doubt, even your “Tired Face” is coming first and foremost from love you definitely feel towards your students. Good luck 🙂

  4. Oh, you are all so right! No wonder we usually have such heavy school bags – there are so many more faces we use a lot!
    Yes Judih, I, unfortunately, use the OMG Face sometimes too, but thankfully had no need it for it on the first day. Haven’t seen the yard duty schedule yet…
    Sandy – oh yes, I use that one over and over with some kids. They seem to think that the way to go up a level is to wear me out, not work!
    Judy – Thank you again for being so encouraging and supportive! You are right, I didn’t get to the “fun face” at all on Friday, and didn’t even show the new kids any of the fun stuff yet. Second lesson is good too I guess!
    Brad – I wish I had a different hat to put on my head for each situation but faces are our working tool! I bet you do it too!
    Thanks all!

  5. Hi Naomi,
    Great post! I love looking at the teaching job from all these different angles. Never thought about the faces thing before but it’s so true. And if it were just the face, like a selection of cardboard masks you pull out of your bag for the occasion. Oh no! Behind the face that’s where the real turmoil takes place, right:-)
    BTH I wrote about my most recent inner and outer battle in my first blog post (have a look) – the feelings inside and what we let show.
    I often have this “trust-me-I know-what-I’m-doing” face…(whisper: even though sometimes I’m a little unsure inside…)
    Till next time

  6. Sorry, me again…but I forgot to clarify that my insecurity comes mostly on occasions when I have to be this tough and strict teacher. The one who needs to put on a stern face and determined look. “No, you can’t have another week…” “Well, you should have asked before…” , you know, something along these lines.

  7. So glad you could relate to it too!
    I’ll check your blog out soon!
    thanks for taking the time to comment.

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