I Hate Teaching-Teachers Share Their Frustrations

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.

Rules

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.

Working Conditions

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.

Cross Purposes

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.

Perhaps asking why the folks directly effected by these laws have little to no say in the creation of them would be a good place to start.

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.

An Alternative

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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12 thoughts on “I Hate Teaching-Teachers Share Their Frustrations”

  1. Hello Nancy, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I remember when I was in high school, there was a teacher who always mourning he can’t wait to retire and now I can understand him. It is definitely not easy to work with so many students or kids especially today when people are so free and democracy is everywhere. Today I see many students don’t respect their teachers which is really bad, especially for the teacher. Back in the past, I envy teachers as I was thinking it is so easy to teach but now I am glad I choose another profession.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry your teacher was so miserable.  However, I do understand why he felt the way he did.  American culture has impacted education in some very negative ways.   We have students who have unrealistic expectations and a system that pretty much allows those expectations to be perpetuated.  Nothing will change for them until they go out into the work world.  It would be easier to learn those lessons now instead of on the job.  I’m glad you took the time to join the conversation.

      Reply
  2. I love this post, this is so so true. I am a teacher even though I have not  practiced teaching for a while, but I am constantly observing my kids going to school and how the whole system is set up to work, or maybe not work.
    So many changes should be implemented for the educational system to work as it is meant to be and not in an automated process which in my opinion is detrimental to the teachers and to the kids themselves.
    Kids are the future, we need to inspire them and to inspire them teachers should feel they can work in an environment and system that allows them to inspire…if this makes any sense to you. Anyway I love the post

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words.  You’re right about the system not working very well.  In it’s attempt to be all things to all people, lots of folks get less than they deserve.  Sometimes it seems as if nothing get done very well.  Because education is so important, we each need to speak up and get involved when we see things that need to be improved.  I appreciate you joining in the conversation.

      Reply
  3. I was teaching English language in China and although children there behave very well, there were couple of incidents where I had to react and remove kids from the class.

    These rules might look boring for children, but they help provide a great environment for kids who actually want to learn and they want to have focus on what is going on. You pointed out that very well. I am one of those teachers that would never force anyone on listening what I have to say.

    I always tell my students they are free to leave the class if they do not fell like listening, whenever they want. I do not want to harm students that are actually interested in what I have to say, by keeping them in the same classroom with those distractions.

    Strahinja

    Reply
    • As you’ve experienced, it’s extremely frustrating, and nearly impossible, to teach when you have one or more students set on disrupting the class.  Several years ago, it was possible to send students to other class when they just couldn’t settle down.  Now, it’s not allowed.  Often, the disruptive students get more consideration than the serious students.  It’s a huge flaw in the educational system.  Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation.

      Reply
  4. Nancy,

    I couldn’t agree more.Our teachers are getting mistreated these days. All teachers have this expectation of perfection, and at the same time they are expected to provide this to 30+ children. Society has become so inclined to be filled with positive reinforcement and the rules teachers are trying to enforce become even more difficult. When your child gets in trouble, the first thought that comes to a parents mind is “it’s the teacher”. There are so many teachers who have to deal with unrealistic and overly inflated expectations and requirements, sometimes it’s difficult not to get jaded at times. Instead, we should all take a step back and think “how did my student make this worse?” or “how could they have done better in the situation?”. Parents need to use some of these items as a learning opportunity. Besides the parents, and the difficulty of teaching children, who all have different personalities, the districts need to think about the teachers, and not just how to get more children in the door.

    Reply
    • It can be extremely difficult to work with other people’s children.  Schools expect that all children will show up with similar upbringings and expectations.  The reality is often very different.  Add to that the fact that no one wants to hear that their child was bad.  Instead of seeing it as a learning curve, too many parents feel they are being attacked or singled out as a “bad parent.”  It’s a challenging way to make a living!  Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

      Reply
  5. The level of entitlement out there today is quite shocking. We live in a time when reproduction can have financial benefits. This is not a sustainable trend. World population in 1950 was 2.5 billion people, in 1970 3.7 billion, in 2000 6 billion. This trickles down to the classroom level, where we see overcrowded classrooms. I agree that general rules could be more lax as they seem outdated, and discipline should never fade away. I think the fate of the world and thus the classroom lies in the people themselves to be responsible. Time will tell. This is an important topic as I feel teachers deserve more respect and I appreciate you sharing, well done.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words.  You bring up an important piece of information.  As the number of people needing to be educated rises, so does the cost to educate them.  There should be no argument with the need for an educated populace.  However, it may be time to begin discussing new models for accomplishing the task.  Thanks for joint the conversation.

      Reply
  6. Hi; you have touched down on some of the most provocating reasons why some teachers have to develop the hatred for the profession. In my country, there are still a couple of schools who rules includes the wearing of a hat during school hours and within the School’s uniform.

     However, believe it or not, not every head is comfortable with/without a hat. Therefore, it will be hard for teacher whos’ head is uncomfortable or comfortable wearing a hat, to enforce the school’s hat law on the student.

     On the other hand, one teacher having twenty-five or more student to educate, should not be penalized for a student misconduct od eating or drinking in class, as there are much more important things for the teacher to attend to enforcing education in a student.

    DorcasW

    Reply
    • I love your comparison of the hat.  It should be obvious that since we are all individuals with different needs, likes and dislikes, we will not respond in the same way to the same rule.  In its search for uniformity, schools sometimes focus on issues that don’t seem to make much sense.  By the way, I would be very uncomfortable if I had to teach all day in a hat.  Thank you so much to joining the conversation.

      Reply

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