This is my sixth full year of teaching. Compared to some people, I’m still a rookie. I like where I am right now. I know enough that I feel competent, but I’m still learning new things everyday.
On average, I think that most people value teachers. Also, generally, I think that most teachers are good teachers. Believe me, I’ve taught and attended enough schools to know that there are bad teachers, but most of us work hard and care about our students.
Unfortunately, there are people who think most teachers are bad at their jobs, work very little, and are overpaid. To those people I would like to present my arguments for why teaching is an extremely difficult job and tell them that I promise we are doing our best.
Here are the reasons teaching is difficult:
- Human Interaction – Teachers work with anywhere from 100 – 150 people a day. Some of these people are children/teenagers, some adults. There are very few jobs where you come into contact and have to personally interact with that many people a day.
- Resources & Time– We often don’t have enough resources. Kids don’t bring pens and pencils so we provide them. We provide paper and markers and labs out of our own money. When it comes to time, the day is packed so full that there are many days that bathroom breaks for teachers just don’t happen. Try to do your job well when you really, really have to pee; it’s not easy.
- Expectations – We are expected to work miracles. While I do consider myself something of a miracle worker, there’s only so much you can accomplish in a semester with an 11th grader who cannot read. They aren’t likely to pass the state test. That doesn’t mean we don’t try, we do, but sometimes the expectations can’t be met. It also doesn’t mean we aren’t good at our jobs or aren’t working above and beyond our job description.
Like Boxer from Animal Farm, my motto is “I will work harder.” Unfortunately, just like Boxer, sometimes working hard isn’t enough and doesn’t fix everything.
- Too many bosses – Most schools have several administrators and recently, instructional coaches have been added. There are also department heads and representatives from the state. In addition, we answer to parents, townspeople, students, the superintendent and the school board. Someone is always telling us to do something. Often, what they are telling us contradicts something we’ve already been told. You get very good at smiling and trying to make everyone happy.
- Politicians – It may not seem like politicians make my everyday life more difficult, but they do. Politicians are the people that mandate that we test multiple times a year. (Accountability is good, but kids are only going to improve so much in 4.5 weeks). They decide where and when kids go to school. They are the ones who often turn parents and towns against teachers. Most of them know nothing more about education than the fact that they attended school.
These are just five aspects that make teaching difficult; I didn’t mention violence, hunger, poverty, but those things impact my day, all day, too. Some people will read this and say, “This is what you signed up for” or “You can find another job if you don’t like it.” To them I say you’re right I did and I could. However, I’m not sure you want all the teachers who care to leave. I’m pretty sure we’d be in worse shape than we are now if that happened.