There are plenty of reasons for teachers to say, “I Hate Teaching.” Some may seem like minor nuisances, while others are much more serious. However, being faced with only a few of these issues day after day, week after week, throughout the school year can take its toll on even the most laid back teachers. I Hate Teaching-Teachers Share Their Frustrations covers a few of the classroom disruptions that cause teachers to cringe.
Teachers’ days are filled with rules and the enforcement of those rules. While some of them are necessary, others become just one more way to harass and exert control on teachers and students.
Cell Phones. Let’s start with one of the biggies that won’t be settled anytime soon. There are numerous ways that cell phones can be useful in the classroom. Teachers attend various training and conferences that teach ways to utilize cell phones to encourage student participation in lessons. Yet, teachers in many schools are not allowed to have students use their phones. Instead, teachers face discipline if they buck the system.
No hats. Some schools have given up on this one, but not all. I personally spent over 10 years in a district/division that insisted teachers give a warning and then take the hat if students didn’t remove them from their heads before entering the classroom. If it was the first offense, the hat was returned at the end of the period. If this was the second or greater time it had been taken, it went to the office until the end of the day. I still don’t understand how aggravated, angered students were expected to do well in class after this type of event.
No gum. OK, it can be messy and some students use gum as their way to get back at the system. However, many schools have discovered that if you make gum a non-issue, it becomes a non-issue. Imagine that! Also, see the note about food in the classroom.
No food in the classroom. This rule runs counter to the research. Hungry students just don’t pay attention. There’s also research that shows that eating (this includes chewing gum too), or drinking while studying improves memory of the material being studied.
We should be handing out the popcorn and beverages as students walk into class instead of being required to write up detentions for hungry students.
No drinks other than water in the classroom. Why? If a student spills, have them clean it up. Otherwise, this should be the same as no food.
No restroom breaks during the first 15 minutes of class or 15 minutes before the end of class. I once had a professor tell me he never got involved in trying to control the restroom needs of students. I decided if this worked for him, it would work for me. If nature calls, it doesn’t matter how important the fact the teacher doesn’t want you to miss may be. You are not going to pay attention if your heavy bladder, or worse, is calling you.
Dress code violations. Being the fashion police is not why I spent an obscene amount of money to get a teaching credential. However, most of us are required to make clothing decisions for other people’s children and penalize them if we think they’ve stepped over the line. There must be a better way to instill a sense of decorum, as it relates to wardrobe choices, than sentencing a girl or boy to a day of detention.
Some of the conditions teachers work under can be downright demeaning.
A life controlled by the bell. It dictates when you can:
- Take a coffee/tea break
- Eat your lunch and be back to your room
- Go to the restroom
Extra-curricular activities. Teachers talk with anger about being required to teach/sponsor clubs with no stipend, and when they balked, being shamed with the “its for the kids” line.
Class sizes. This is major complaint for many teachers. I suppose it’s easy to assume if a teacher can deal with 25 students, 29 or 30 should be doable. In the larger districts/divisions, those numbers can be much greater.
What these folks don’t seem to understand is the make up of the students in each class. To get a real feel for what teachers are dealing with in overcrowded classrooms you must consider the variety of students you are charged with educating. The basic breakdown will be similar to the following:
- Students at grade level
- Students above level
- Students below grade level
- Students far below grade level
- Students with special needs, maybe IEPs
- Some will have emotional issues
- Some will have emotional and behavioral issues
Every class has students with skills and abilities are all over the board. Anywhere up to half can have no interest in participating. It’s not unusual to have one fifth of the class refusing to join in. They often entertain themselves by engaging in behaviors that can shred event he best planned lesson.
Planning periods are almost always inadequate for putting together lesson plans for this diverse a group. At that point, a teacher’s personal time and well-being is impacted by the numbers.
Teachers, please pardon this interruption.
These interruptions by administration range from the request to send one student to the office, to general all-calls directing large groups of students, scattered throughout the building, to a special meeting in the auditorium.
These disruptions are made more aggravating when you consider that teachers are constantly being reminded that all students must be engaged in the lesson every minute of the class period. Many teachers still work under the directive to teach “bell to bell.”
Yet, students are delighted to have these unexpected announcements break in on their lesson, and are often reluctant to return to it. They would much rather remain on this unexpected interlude. Even worse, the learning moment that minutes earlier was enveloping the class, is lost forever.
Spending your days working at cross purposes can make the most dedicated teacher hate what they’re doing.
Become a human being to your students. Sounds good. However, when you are also the individual that carries out the discipline for all but the most egregious offenses, you cease being a friend. You’re a representative of the system.
A sense of entitlement. Children, and sometimes parents, believe that by virtue of warming a chair for the required number of minutes, they are entitled to a passing grade.
Challenging students who can destroy the learning environment. The following three examples are among the most cited:
- Students who refuse to work
- Students with such severe emotional issues they can’t function in class
- Students who know their bad behavior won’t be dealt with in a meaningful way
Why It Matters
Our society agrees that we need well-educated students. Everyone is in favor of children receiving a quality education. However, we need to take a look at the layers of laws that educators must contend with on a daily basis.
The lives of teachers and their students are impacted daily by the ideas of people who have never been in a classroom, or moved on to other endeavors years ago.
Many of these well-meaning laws create situations in which:
- Good students who want to learn can’t work to their full potential
- Teachers can’t teach to their full potential
- Everyone is diminished in the process
As a result of the current environment, even discipline problems sent to the office are seldom improved.
You get a few minutes of respite while the offender is out. If the offense was egregious enough, the offender might get a day of detention. Then you quietly celebrate, and make the most of the time with the other students.
Teaching is often a thankless job that sends many people into some level of depression. It’s no wonder that many hate what they are doing. It’s hard not to drive home at the end of a day feeling like a failure when the message is always that you are only as good as the success you have with your worst performing students.
Are the frustrations about to push you out of teaching?
You don’t have to stay in a thankless environment. Take a look at my #1 recommendation for escaping the classroom. It’s a great resource for learning how to promote yourself, your aspirations, and your special concerns.
It’s the place where I have learned everything you see on this website. See you there!
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