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Old 04-07-2014, 07:35 AM
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Is being a teacher so bad?


I have a friend who is a teacher and is looking to get out of the profession. She likes the kids (mostly) but what with the meddlesome parents, bad administration, unrealistic expectations, and tuned out coworkers, she's decided it's just not worth it. The school she's at is considered average-to-good - i.e., she's not fleeing some terrible "blackboard jungle" situation.

Privately, I wonder if she's making a mistake. She makes a decent living (earns more than I do, drives a nicer car, and lives in a much nicer apartment), is off this week for spring break, and is counting down to her 2 1/2 month summer vacation. (A paid one, if she chose to take her salary on a 12-month schedule.) On the surface, it sounds pretty good to me.

Plus, the way I see it, there are bad bosses, coworkers, and clients in every profession. I worry that she'll learn that the hard way, only after having given up the benefits of education. Also, she still likes the idea of teaching, even if she's exhausted by the reality, so the core interest is still there.

On the other hand, stories of teacher burnout like this are pretty common. So my question is for those of you who've taught and had some other career as an adult: are the frustrations of being a teacher really that much worse than what one faces in every other career? In what way? Did you move to teaching from the other career, or vice versa? Are you glad you made the decision you did?
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:35 AM
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I'll start with the obligatory "I'm not a teacher, but"... the but in my case being that my family is about half teachers (two cousins, two aunts, an uncle and my grandfather).

I think part of the issue is that teachers end up with at least 3 bosses. The administrators, the parents, and politicians on the school board. They also only have so much control over their end product - whether the students or the parents are involved will make a bigger different than almost anything the teacher can do. So, in that sense, it's a bit different from being a regular office drone, where you usually have only one boss, and while someone else can affect the quality of your work, nobody is actively trying to NOT get the work done.

That being said, there are good teachers and bad teachers, like in every profession. I had a couple of friends that went into teaching. One of them went in because she liked music and wanted to be a band director. Our entire peer group though this was a bad idea because she was very quiet and shy and there was no way she'd be able to control a class on hormone-laden teenagers. We were right - she lasted one semester and then drifted among a half-dozen jobs before settling on something totally unrelated to her teaching career.

The other is a sweet girl, but has the ability to be tough as nails and in your face as need be when the situation calls for it. Sure, she complains about her students, but she's been doing it for 6 years now and is handling it just fine.

As far as different jobs - both the uncle and grandfather were retired military when they went into teaching. They said that handling the kids was no different than handling a bunch of rowdy privates - generally you got them to do their work, occasionally you used your command voice, but the same no-nonsense attitude from a previous job was fine. The problem for both was the administration, which was more concerned with metrics than with the students actually learning. The cousins both left teaching for something else (real estate and accounting), and have never looked back.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:09 AM
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I've never wanted to do anything else. Finishing up year 27 and it's still as fun as it was at the start.

Some people just don't have what it takes.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:19 AM
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When I was still in K-12 (about two years ago) there was an opening for a regular ed 3rd grade teacher position. 300 qualified people applied. 300 people who had the education and licensing needed to do the job. The job went to the son of the Asst. Superintendent.

So a lot of people think that being a teacher isn't so bad IMHO.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:28 AM
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I've never wanted to do anything else. Finishing up year 27 and it's still as fun as it was at the start.

Some people just don't have what it takes.
I think its a calling. And its one of those jobs that you imagine, when you go into it, that its going to be quite different than what it is. Few people think about administration politics. Or IEP red tape. Or having to deal with parents - both of the helicopter variety and of the really crappy human being variety.

A friend of mine is on the verge of quitting after 25 years - and she has a pretty great job (studio art teacher at a school for the arts). But she has a inept and/or corrupt (both from what she says) administration. If it were her, her kids, and her subject matter, she wouldn't be burned out.

Another moved to teaching at a community college, where the students are making a choice to be there.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:30 AM
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I've never wanted to do anything else. Finishing up year 27 and it's still as fun as it was at the start.

Some people just don't have what it takes.
Not that easy an answer, I think. Do you have adequate support from parents,and the school board back you up when difficulties arise? Are politicians trying to cut your budget? Are you allowed to teach the subject, or are you being forced to "teach to the test"?
What I am trying to say is that some people may have what it takes...but are prevented from giving what they've got.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:33 AM
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is off this week for spring break, and is counting down to her 2 1/2 month summer vacation.
Is she really off?

All the teachers I know work 60+ hour weeks (they don't have time to grade or lesson plan during regular school hours), aren't actually off during spring break like the students, and usually also do some school related work during the summer, including summer classes and some administrative work.

There are plenty of people who work those kinds of long hours in other fields, but we aren't shocked when some of them burn out.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:40 AM
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Not that easy an answer, I think. Do you have adequate support from parents,and the school board back you up when difficulties arise? Are politicians trying to cut your budget? Are you allowed to teach the subject, or are you being forced to "teach to the test"?
What I am trying to say is that some people may have what it takes...but are prevented from giving what they've got.
Sometimes, sometimes, always and always. So what? Name a job that doesn't have its difficulties and obstacles.

I've never bought the whole "teaching to the test" kerfuffle. EVERY teacher teaches to some test or another. The people who bitch and moan just complain because they don't get to set the test any more. Good teachers can teach the subject and the test simultaneously,because believe it or not, the tests usually cover the subject. At our school the English department bitched because several of the teachers couldn't teach their favorite books any more. Aww...poor babies. They forget that they aren't composers. They are fiddle players.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:01 AM
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They forget that they aren't composers. They are fiddle players.
The fiddle players don't get to choose the music, but they do get to choose their fiddle. Your post indicates you think the book is the music; I think the lesson is the music and book is the fiddle.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:07 AM
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So, in that sense, it's a bit different from being a regular office drone, where you usually have only one boss, and while someone else can affect the quality of your work, nobody is actively trying to NOT get the work done.
That is just not the case; lots of job s are fraught with political weirdness. I personally have three official bosses and two de facto bosses, depending on what I'm doing. If you think this sort of nonsense is unique to teaching... well, that's just crazy talk. Terrible bosses, awful customers, organization confusion, backstabbing, insufficient resources? Welcome to life.

The question of whether being a teacher is all that bad is rather easily answered; it is generally not, as evidenced by the fact that there is no shortage of teachers. (There may be local shortages in some places but in general teachers are not in short supply.) If it was that bad people would not want to do it.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:34 AM
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The fiddle players don't get to choose the music, but they do get to choose their fiddle. Your post indicates you think the book is the music; I think the lesson is the music and book is the fiddle.
They've been told to play the violin and they want to pick up a bass guitar. If you are going to play in an orchestra, you play the music that is selected and you bloody well play it the way the conductor tells you to play it or you quit. If you want an extended solo and the ability to jam, go get hired at a fairly liberal college.

Good teachers can make the most mundane music sing, for both themselves and their audience.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:51 AM
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It can be quite bad, but that doesn't make it unique. Other professions may have similar levels of burn-out, but they're not as easy to track.

I think what teaching shares with other "caring" professions is that it's soul-tiring. I mean that you are in contact with people who have really serious shit going on in their lives, like abuse at home, learning difficulties, etc. And you can't fix it.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:57 AM
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I would love to be a teacher. I think it is one of the most important jobs out there.

But as an outsider looking in, it seems like they are just mindless automatons. They get told what to teach, who to teach, when to teach it, exactly how to teach it, and with what materials. Might as well install a robot in the classroom. Burger flippers seemingly get more creative control over their work output.

College professors avoid this, but academia has its own mess of problems. I just decided to be an engineer and try to get really good at mentoring and explaining concepts to others.
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:21 PM
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I've never bought the whole "teaching to the test" kerfuffle. EVERY teacher teaches to some test or another. The people who bitch and moan just complain because they don't get to set the test any more. Good teachers can teach the subject and the test simultaneously,because believe it or not, the tests usually cover the subject. At our school the English department bitched because several of the teachers couldn't teach their favorite books any more. Aww...poor babies. They forget that they aren't composers. They are fiddle players.
Thank you. First, for being a good teacher. Second, for making that point.

I have a lot of friends and aquaintences that are teachers. The ones that make the "teaching to the test" complaint, I want to ask, "What in the world were you teaching before the test?"

If I may hijack a bit, if I were a magic genie and I came along to grant you one wishful change to the whole system, what would it be?
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:21 PM
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Hopeful future teacher here: I acknowledge nobody gets into education to get rich. It also is a huge time consuming job. When I was in school most teachers were still on campus an hour after school ended, sometimes running a club, but mostly correcting tests/papers.
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:34 PM
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I've read quite a few teacher complaints about Common Core. They are required to pretty much teach and prep the kids for those tests. I've seen reports of experienced teachers retiring because they don't like prepping kids for a set of tests. I guess theres no time to teach anything else.

heres one perspective.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...think-teacher/
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The strategy, summarized, requires the following: 1) Read the text to get the flow, or feel of the piece; 2) Re-read to identify important or unfamiliar words; 3) summarize, or write the gist of portions of the text in the margins; 4) record the text’s key details and important information. These are the habits good readers use to understand complex information and, yet, the examination designed to evaluate whether students have developed these habits makes no time for close reading. Ninety minutes, six passages, 42 multiple-choice questions. Go!

This is not how I teach, nor how I want my children educated. And yet, another testing session has concluded to evaluate another year of teaching and learning (yes, the beginning of April is when the state assesses students’ ELA skills to gauge the success of the school year that concludes at the end of June).

Last edited by aceplace57; 04-07-2014 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:41 PM
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I have a little over five years experience as a teacher, but I'm currently working in a different field. If I could find the right teaching job, I would go back in a heart beat.

Job #1 - the perfect job. I knew I had it good. I just didn't realize how good. My principal was insanely good. The superintendent and district staff backed the faculty to the hilt. The kids were pretty good, and while there were some difficult problems, it was never like the other jobs I had. I left to move to another state and regretted it. However, the year after I moved, the superintendent left and was replaced. The new superintendent got rid of the principal, and it went downhill.

Job #2 - one of the worst jobs of my entire life. The district was huge and had a long history of incompetence and corruption. The principal was a con man. The percentage of good kids and parents was about the same, but the number of really troubled kids and parents who didn't give a damn or were outright insane was much higher. I left at the end of the first semester after I was physically assaulted by a student and the administration made it clear they didn't care.

Job #3 - teaching at an Orthodox Jewish school. Part fascinating cultural exchange, part nerve-wracking, stress-inducing trial. The school had a very difficult time keeping any non-Jewish teachers for more than a couple of years. I had the feeling that the parents were responsible for much of it, using "they don't understand our culture" as an excuse to get rid of teachers who wouldn't capitulate to demands for perfect snowflake culture. I ended up leaving before the end of the year because I'd developed a bout of severe depression which interfered with my responsibilities in the classroom and caused me to behave in an unprofessional way (yelling at the kids). I wish I'd been able to end the year.

The thing is, when a teaching job is good, it is very, very good - fulfilling, adventurous, and good service to the community. When it's bad, it is soul destroying. Shortly after I walked away from Job #2, a friend had to be admitted for in-patient treatment of her severe depression. She told me later that during group therapy, a third of the patients were teachers from that district, and all of them said they'd leave teaching forever rather than return there.

I love working with the kids. I'd say at least 85% of them are genuinely good, interesting people, and having the opportunity to help them develop into healthy, contributing adults is a privilege that I treasure. Around 1-2% of them are damaged in such ways that I could not figure out a way to reach them, let alone help them, and they were better off under the care and guidance of a medical/mental health professional. The remaining kids needed their teachers to work together to provide consistent disciplinary and educational interactions. Very, very rarely, I would encounter a child who was a perfectly fine human being but managed to rub me so wrong, I couldn't stand being around them. As a teacher, it was my job to grit my teeth and deal with it.

Parents are partners, and the vast majority of my dealings with them were positive. Most of them are thrilled to have a teacher who welcomes them, wants to work with them, and likes their child. Many of them were relieved that I could validate their experiences, reassure them that they were doing the right thing, and provide them some other resources. Occasionally, I had parents who didn't care, and it broke my heart. Rarely, I ran into parents who were overtly hostile or abusive.

For me, what made or broke a job was the administration. A school's culture is dependent on what the principal and his/her staff allow, embrace, and reject. The second school I taught at, a student was raped by a staff member (it later came to light that the rapist had a prior history, but the background check the district paid for didn't check ALL 50 states), and the principal was more concerned that faculty and staff not talk to the media and make the school look bad than he was about helping the victim or protecting the students in general. It was sickening. He declared that teachers were not allowed to assign a failing grade to any student during the first six weeks because he wanted the football team to have a full roster. The administration was very supportive, but they just didn't see the demands of the parents to make exceptions and excuses for their child as unsupportable.

I love teaching. Currently, I'm getting my fix by teaching religious education (Sunday school) at my church. If I could land a teaching job at a good school, I'd be thrilled.
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:42 PM
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But as an outsider looking in, it seems like they are just mindless automatons. They get told what to teach, who to teach, when to teach it, exactly how to teach it, and with what materials. Might as well install a robot in the classroom.
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I've read quite a few teacher complaints about Common Core. They are required to pretty much teach and prep the kids for those tests. I've seen reports of experienced teachers retiring because they don't like prepping kids for a set of tests. I guess theres no time to teach anything else.
I have heard my brother, a high school English teacher, complain that it has recently become more and more this way.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:24 PM
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That is just not the case; lots of job s are fraught with political weirdness. I personally have three official bosses and two de facto bosses, depending on what I'm doing. If you think this sort of nonsense is unique to teaching... well, that's just crazy talk. Terrible bosses, awful customers, organization confusion, backstabbing, insufficient resources? Welcome to life.

The question of whether being a teacher is all that bad is rather easily answered; it is generally not, as evidenced by the fact that there is no shortage of teachers. (There may be local shortages in some places but in general teachers are not in short supply.) If it was that bad people would not want to do it.
Yeah, having worked in the corporate world, in not for profits, in (currently) higher ed and (previously) in public k-12, there is no way K-12 is unique in having those issues. In fact, I found it pretty simple compared to working for a larger corp. or a large university system.

Generally, I have found that when a teacher complains about Admin, it is just because (gasp) Admin wants them to do something they don't want to do.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:25 PM
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That is just not the case; lots of job s are fraught with political weirdness. I personally have three official bosses and two de facto bosses, depending on what I'm doing. If you think this sort of nonsense is unique to teaching... well, that's just crazy talk. Terrible bosses, awful customers, organization confusion, backstabbing, insufficient resources? Welcome to life.
I will disagree with this. Sure, there are office politics, but I have worked in the most corporate of corporate cultures and nobody gets pulled in as many directions, or has as many indirect bosses as teachers. I'm willing to give them this one.

Plus, if you work for a company that has a bonkers structure, you can change companies and get away from it. Teachers are going to have parents and politicians no matter where they teach (Private schools have donors instead of politicians, but the point stands).

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The question of whether being a teacher is all that bad is rather easily answered; it is generally not, as evidenced by the fact that there is no shortage of teachers. (There may be local shortages in some places but in general teachers are not in short supply.) If it was that bad people would not want to do it.
There's no shortage of people that want to be rock musicians either, even if the vast majority of them have to take a second job or live on poverty wages. That doesn't mean it's not a rough life.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:31 PM
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That is just not the case; lots of job s are fraught with political weirdness. I personally have three official bosses and two de facto bosses, depending on what I'm doing. If you think this sort of nonsense is unique to teaching... well, that's just crazy talk. Terrible bosses, awful customers, organization confusion, backstabbing, insufficient resources? Welcome to life.

The question of whether being a teacher is all that bad is rather easily answered; it is generally not, as evidenced by the fact that there is no shortage of teachers. (There may be local shortages in some places but in general teachers are not in short supply.) If it was that bad people would not want to do it.
I love being a teacher. But it's not true that there is no shortage--something like 50% of new teachers leave the profession after 5 years, and in our district, at least, there are literally hundreds of classrooms, mostly in elementary schools, that have had subs all year. Urban and rural districts have tremendous problems finding bodies, and in certain areas--math, science, special ed, bilingual education--everyone scrambles to find people. And even when their are applicants, it can be tremendously difficult to find good people--almost every interview cycle I've been part of has come down to "least terrible".
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:34 PM
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Your friend sounds EXACTLY like how I felt a few years ago. Good to average school, loved working with the kids, loved being able to do my job, but HATED the lack of respect/support from parents, admins and others. I got out and couldn't be happier and make a lot more money to boot. I still miss the kids, but it was not a mistake.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:37 PM
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They've been told to play the violin and they want to pick up a bass guitar. If you are going to play in an orchestra, you play the music that is selected and you bloody well play it the way the conductor tells you to play it or you quit. If you want an extended solo and the ability to jam, go get hired at a fairly liberal college.

Good teachers can make the most mundane music sing, for both themselves and their audience.
Sure, if a teacher wants to teach Science and is told to teach English instead, that's a problem for the teacher (although, why a district would hire a science teacher to teach english is beyond me, but then I don't know why an orchestra would hire a guitar player to play fiddle).

If a district needs a teacher to teach English, great. If the district thinks the teacher cannot effectively teach English unless he ditches To Kill a Mockingbird in favor of The Scarlet Letter, the district is not thinking very well.

We hire teachers (and musicians, incidentally) because they have a certain subjective skill that makes them great. Then we want the teachers to turn into objective automatons that teach things in exactly a certain way. That's a disconnect that needs to be resolved.

And incidentally, having been a musician, some pieces of music are beyond redemption.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:38 PM
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I've read quite a few teacher complaints about Common Core. They are required to pretty much teach and prep the kids for those tests. I've seen reports of experienced teachers retiring because they don't like prepping kids for a set of tests. I guess there's no time to teach anything else.
No sympathy. There is always time if you get over yourself as a teacher. The truth is a majority of teachers are just as inefficient as the rest of the work force, and waste time with stuff that isn't important that they could be using constructively towards the goals of their classes. That just might mean dumping that favorite lesson they've been teaching for years. Sucks, but you are in this job for the kids, not for your jollies. If you can find fulfillment at the same time, good for you. It's not like everybody else in the world is grooving on their jobs and you aren't. It's a Common Condition of Mankind. Deal with it.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:48 PM
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That is just not the case; lots of job s are fraught with political weirdness. I personally have three official bosses and two de facto bosses, depending on what I'm doing. If you think this sort of nonsense is unique to teaching... well, that's just crazy talk. Terrible bosses, awful customers, organization confusion, backstabbing, insufficient resources? Welcome to life.

The question of whether being a teacher is all that bad is rather easily answered; it is generally not, as evidenced by the fact that there is no shortage of teachers. (There may be local shortages in some places but in general teachers are not in short supply.) If it was that bad people would not want to do it.
You have to remember that teachers are subjected frequently to ridiculous levels of scrutiny, though. I mean, if your widget ends up coming out slightly wonky because the customer's spec was asinine and you were fighting to reconcile it and your personal business model nothing but the reputation of your company suffers and maybe your individual employees suffers. If a teacher screws up, real damage to a child can be done.

The problem with this is, despite mounds of research, we still don't have a perfect idea of how to best do education, and everyone has an opinion, often a strong one. Combine this with the fact that even research and expert opinions can be contradictory and unclear. So a teacher isn't just getting inconsistent demands, opinions, and data, and being forced to reconcile it with their own personal ideas and experiences about what works well -- every single one of those instructions and opinions comes with a very strong moral judgment attached.

If your class does worse than expected on some new test, not only do you feel like a failure like you would in any industry, but you're stuck with the burden of feeling like you possibly just ruined 30 children's lives. And due to the data, it's almost impossible to tell if this happened because you yourself did poorly, or because the principal told you to do something dumb, or because those "tests" the politicians approved were bullshit, or because those problem parents forced you to lower your standards so Mark and Ted didn't get a D so they could stay on the football team.

It certainly has similar stressors and problems to many other jobs, but the stakes are higher (or at least society makes it seem that way).

Last edited by Jragon; 04-07-2014 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:52 PM
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In Spring of 1990, I was finishing my undergrad and working in a library part time. I was in the teacher ed program and finishing up my student teaching. All I had to do was send in the paperwork to be certified to teach, and I could start making $20-22K a year in the fall.

I never sent in the forms, and opted instead for $12K a year, because I saw how miserable I would be teaching.

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Old 04-07-2014, 02:03 PM
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No sympathy. There is always time if you get over yourself as a teacher. The truth is a majority of teachers are just as inefficient as the rest of the work force, and waste time with stuff that isn't important that they could be using constructively towards the goals of their classes. That just might mean dumping that favorite lesson they've been teaching for years. Sucks, but you are in this job for the kids, not for your jollies. If you can find fulfillment at the same time, good for you. It's not like everybody else in the world is grooving on their jobs and you aren't. It's a Common Condition of Mankind. Deal with it.
How much of your own money do you spend for class supplies?
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:05 PM
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Generally, I have found that when a teacher complains about Admin, it is just because (gasp) Admin wants them to do something they don't want to do.
And why is that such a surprise?

I've had a principal tell me I had to give failing students a passing grade. Not failing with a 59%. Failing with a 23%. In one case, the student was failing with a 4%. The vice principal told me that I should hold an impromptu parent-teacher conference in the middle of class because the parent had shown up unannounced and demanded my attention. When I pointed out that I could not discuss the student in question with his father in front of other students, because it violated privacy policies, she told me to take the discussion into the hallway. When I pointed out that, by law, I couldn't leave the students in my classroom without supervision, she got angry with me.

I've had an administrator tell me that I was going to take that maxed out class at the end of the school day, filled with kids who defaulted to art because they couldn't be bothered to fill out their preferred class assignments, on 1/10th the budget a regular art class would get, with no lesson plans, no support from the department head, and three days to prep before school started. Was I obliged to do it? Sure. Did I complain. You betcha.

Sometimes, what an administrator tells a teacher to do is illegal, unethical, immoral, unnecessary, or just stupid. Sometimes, administrators suck at their jobs and the fallout lands on the teacher. Like I said, administrators make or break teaching jobs. Good administrators hire good teachers. Bad administrators get rid of good teachers and tolerate bad ones.
  #29  
Old 04-07-2014, 02:12 PM
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IANAT, but I spend quite a bit of time involved with our communities schools, public and private. There are some really good teachers and there are some really bad teachers and lot of mediocre teachers out there. The really good ones have a passion for teaching. For a lot of teachers, it's a paycheck. A big part of the problem that burns a lot of good teachers out is that they spend the majority of their time dealing with the discipline problem kids and not being able to teach. The school system has to figure out a better way to deal with the dip shit kids if our education system wants to be more successful.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:14 PM
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When I was in school most teachers were still on campus an hour after school ended, sometimes running a club, but mostly correcting tests/papers.
Why were you staying an hour after school?
  #31  
Old 04-07-2014, 02:24 PM
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How much of your own money do you spend for class supplies?
Straight from the teachers' mouths. It is NOT like any other job...unless you work in an office where upper management expects you to pay for office supplies out of your own salary for those that work under you.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 04-07-2014 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:41 PM
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Straight from the teachers' mouths. It is NOT like any other job...unless you work in an office where upper management expects you to pay for office supplies out of your own salary for those that work under you.
I guess I need it explained to me why teachers are willing to buy supplies out of their own pocket.

Last edited by Sicks Ate; 04-07-2014 at 02:41 PM.
  #33  
Old 04-07-2014, 02:45 PM
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I guess I need it explained to me why teachers are willing to buy supplies out of their own pocket.
Because if they don't they're heartless monsters who won't make a small sacrifice for the children. After all, what's more important? Getting a new TV or making sure 30 kids succeed in life!? [/moral hysteria]

I mean, when it comes down to it, the teachers do it to themselves to at least some degree. But guilt is a strong motivator. Similar to what I said in my earlier post: if you need a new computer to do your job, if you stonewall your company by refusing to buy your own the company's profits are going to suffer. If a teacher refuses to buy necessary supplies for their students, they have to live with the guilt that they may not be giving these students the best education possible. Sure, they can complain to admin, but when it's clear that admin can't or won't do anything about it it's completely up to the teacher.

Last edited by Jragon; 04-07-2014 at 02:46 PM.
  #34  
Old 04-07-2014, 02:50 PM
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Thing is, if my boss is pissing me off, I can shut my office door, put on a Prince CD, and fume all day, if I want.

Teachers can't do this. They are expected to perform all day long. That's why I would be a horrible teacher. I like being able to be in a bad mood whenever I want to.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:29 PM
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OK, I didn't read the whole thread, so I may be repeating what others said. Teaching high school for 26 years was fun sometimes and hell other times. Here are some things that made the difference:

1. Administration- if they won't back you up on discipline and you have bad kids, it can really suck. I have seen administrators "out to get" certain teachers fill classes with thugs and not back up any discipline referrals. Administrators who back up the teacher and realize that kids can really be terrible are a blessing.

2. Students- hey, some are better in class than others. By the 8th and 9th grade, unfortunately, there are some kids who would rather cause as much trouble in class as possible than cooperate in any fashion. Most of these either drop out, are arrested, or improve their behavior by the 11th grade. Having a class full (or worse, day full) of these kids can make life miserable. One year, I had the worst batch of 8th graders I'd ever seen. At least a dozen of them went to prison within the next three years- theft, breaking and entering, meth lab, and murder among the charges.
On the other hand, I also have had some cherry-picked honors classes that made me really want to get up and go to work in the morning.

3. General stupidity: OK, so we're all held accountable for test results. Fine, my classes usually did much better than the state average. But noooooo- you have to write a freakin' book for planning one lesson. Doesn't matter that the school district spent millions on textbooks that provide useful, professionally written plans aligned to the state standards and ready to print out- you can't be a good teacher if you don't rewrite them into the obfuscatory language favored by the district, county, or state this year, add in five subjective rubrics to assess the feelings of your students toward thoroughly objective topics such as ionic bonding, and be forced to waste three weeks of your summer vacation trying to word physical science objectives in a manner that pleases administrators that don't understand the standards.

The amount of paperwork that teachers do that has nothing to do with student's progress and understanding has exploded recently. It is probably the biggest reason for teacher dissatisfaction.
  #36  
Old 04-07-2014, 03:33 PM
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Why were you staying an hour after school?
If etv78's anything like I was (in elementary school, anyway), the answer is "grading papers for a teacher who'd rather pay me a quarter than stay 2 hours after school."
  #37  
Old 04-07-2014, 03:38 PM
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And why is that such a surprise?

I've had a principal tell me I had to give failing students a passing grade. Not failing with a 59%. Failing with a 23%. In one case, the student was failing with a 4%. The vice principal told me that I should hold an impromptu parent-teacher conference in the middle of class because the parent had shown up unannounced and demanded my attention. When I pointed out that I could not discuss the student in question with his father in front of other students, because it violated privacy policies, she told me to take the discussion into the hallway. When I pointed out that, by law, I couldn't leave the students in my classroom without supervision, she got angry with me.
My girlfriend's (corrupt and inept) principal made a declaration that all parent emails would be answered within 15 minutes of having arrived in the teachers in box between the hours of 7am and 7pm. When it was explained to him that 1) they had lives and 2) for part of that day they were, well...teaching children and not looking at their email, he did not back down. Instead, he started firing teachers for non-compliance to policy.

This was the same bozo who insisted that all teachers have a Facebook page and friend their students and parents. Like that is going to be a winning situation when someone tags a photo of you with the huge appletini.
  #38  
Old 04-07-2014, 03:40 PM
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How much of your own money do you spend for class supplies?
If I ever actually added it up to the penny I'd probably quit. But it is mostly on my debate kids, so I really don't mind. When you get down to it, 30 kids' education is more important than me getting a new TV. You try not to let it get out of hand, but if I was out to get rich(er than I would be otherwise) I would have stayed in the private sector running my own business(es.) I teach because I am good at it, I have always wanted to do it, and because it has to be done, and done effectively. If not by me, by who? There are times you just have to suck it up and take one for the team. I don't get trinkets so other people's kids learn. That's a pretty good trade-off in my book.
  #39  
Old 04-07-2014, 03:53 PM
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I taught in a small, mainly German farming community for a brief period of time when I finished my undergrad degree. My students were well-behaved and the parents cooperative for the large part.

The hours I spent in the classroom were enjoyable. I didn't mind the extra hours at home doing prep work and grading papers. It was the administrational aspects of the job that I hadn't been prepared for. The apathy and actual interference in the teaching process were a deal-breaker for me.
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:30 PM
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I left teaching many moons ago because, at the time, there were little to no jobs available in my discipline. The most I could get was substituting in three different schools in one particular district. I did that for three years based on the "promise" that I'd be hired FT when a position opened. It opened, and I later discovered I hadn't been considered because I was supposedly "such a good sub".

I had an evening/weekend PT job during this time. When a FT position opened at the company, I applied and got it. I made more money in that position than I would have if I had gotten the FT teaching position. I also didn't want to sub anymore.
  #41  
Old 04-07-2014, 04:44 PM
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Not that easy an answer, I think. Do you have adequate support from parents,and the school board back you up when difficulties arise? Are politicians trying to cut your budget? Are you allowed to teach the subject, or are you being forced to "teach to the test"?
What I am trying to say is that some people may have what it takes...but are prevented from giving what they've got.
Yeah, some districts have a morale problem.

http://paulharrisonline.blogspot.com...n-america.html

http://paulharrisonline.blogspot.com...e-testing.html

http://paulharrisonline.blogspot.com...bad-tests.html
  #42  
Old 04-07-2014, 04:50 PM
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My daughter is in her 6th year of teaching, and she's looking for a job in another field. I think the straw that broke the camel's back was when the Board of Education declared that no student would ever be given a grade less than 50. That on top of all the other crap she's had to deal with, including rude, disruptive kids, parents who don't give a damn or who can't believe their special snowflake is anything but angelic, being out of pocket for supplies, the number of hours she has to put in at home... It's really unfortunate, because she's a good teacher. I've helped her out in her classroom on many occasions and she is very creative and enthusiastic when she can get the kids to behave.

This year, she switched from 5th to 7th grade, and I'm sure that's part of the issue. She was hoping that having older kids would mean she could teach more in depth (she teaches science) but she said her students now (in Florida) are about on a par with the 5th graders she taught in Virginia. She's been working on her resume and thinking about what she'd rather do. I suspect if politicians would let educators manage education, she might consider sticking with it. Maybe...
  #43  
Old 04-07-2014, 05:02 PM
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/ I suspect if politicians would let educators manage education, she might consider sticking with it. Maybe...
Amen. You can't learn how to educate. It's an amalgam of natural gift and learning from experience. Who better to explain what they need? Which from my perspective was mostly to leave me alone and let me teach.

All three of my main life's jobs have been working for the government and this was my major complaint in all three. The people dictating to the workers have no clue. And when you adjust to all the new guidelines they change them again depending on which way the political wind is blowing.
  #44  
Old 04-07-2014, 05:23 PM
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Four years in the classroom.

I loved the act of teaching. It's exhausting, exhilarating, challenging and eye opening.

I didn't like being a teacher. I disliked the way the years rolled past, one after another, all different but all kind of the same. It always felt so depressing to start another year-- which would be just one of a pretty set number, up till I retire. And all that on a pretty set pay schedule. It all felt depressingly low on outlets for ambition.

If the pay were better and I'd have had freedom to develop my own curriculum, I might have stuck with it. It wasn't a bad gig, but it was a lot of work for something that was a bit of a dead end job.
  #45  
Old 04-07-2014, 05:27 PM
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Your friend sounds EXACTLY like how I felt a few years ago. Good to average school, loved working with the kids, loved being able to do my job, but HATED the lack of respect/support from parents, admins and others. I got out and couldn't be happier and make a lot more money to boot. I still miss the kids, but it was not a mistake.
I went back to my old high school to work as an interpreter about 12 years, and the ones who had been there a long time said that in recent years, there had been a change in parents' attitudes. Parents no longer seemed to assume that teachers wanted what was best for the kids, and seemed often to be on the defensive from the first day; parents blamed teachers for everything that went wrong: if a kid was getting bad grades because he never even went to class, that still must somehow be the teacher's fault, because the class wasn't interesting, or the teacher was making thew child feel unwelcome, or something; it couldn't possibly be a discipline problem the parent needed to address.

This was around 1998. I can tell you that in the mid-1980s if I were caught skipping class (something I did exactly once), I would have been grounded for a first offense, unless I was sick, or something, and grounded meant I couldn't go anywhere but school or synagogue, and couldn't do anything at home but homework, chores, or read Torah and other religious books. I got grounded exactly once, and because I skipped gym, I also had to do exercises in the morning. Believe me, I never got grounded again. This was my aunt and uncle, who were a little old-fashioned, but I think most parents were something like this.

If the trend has continued, parents and teachers are sort of adversarial. My son is only in the first grade, and likes school, so I haven't seen it yet, but I know teachers seem surprised when I say I will address something at home that happened at school.
  #46  
Old 04-07-2014, 05:34 PM
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Why were you staying an hour after school?
I had clubs I participated in.
  #47  
Old 04-07-2014, 05:38 PM
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If etv78's anything like I was (in elementary school, anyway), the answer is "grading papers for a teacher who'd rather pay me a quarter than stay 2 hours after school."
Exactly! And meant HS moreso. BTW, I mentioned up-thread, and in another, that I'm a hopefully future, not current teacher.
  #48  
Old 04-07-2014, 09:19 PM
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I guess I need it explained to me why teachers are willing to buy supplies out of their own pocket.
I guess you should ask my wife why she was willing to give winter clothes out of own closet to students who were too poor to be able to dress properly.

Answer: Because some people don't like to see children go without necessities. And - surprise - many of those people gravitate into teaching.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:47 PM
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I’m a after school teacher, so I get 1/3 of the stress of the teacher but with the teaching experience and experience dealing with the parents. I love the children and I want them to learn. However, Friday is my last day since there are parents that make me want me to punch them. I have had parent ( known to be unstable) yell at me and tell me I'm a horrible person. I see kids that can curse like the sailor and yet they cannot write the alphabet. There is one parent who expects me to raise her child since "I'm the teacher”. I see parents that can afford fancy shoes and clothes and their kids do not have the proper school supplies. There kids are not the problem but the parents are.

Don't get me started on the administrators.

Last edited by claramorena; 04-07-2014 at 10:48 PM.
  #50  
Old 04-08-2014, 01:19 AM
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I love being a teacher. But it's not true that there is no shortage--something like 50% of new teachers leave the profession after 5 years, and in our district, at least, there are literally hundreds of classrooms, mostly in elementary schools, that have had subs all year. Urban and rural districts have tremendous problems finding bodies, and in certain areas--math, science, special ed, bilingual education--everyone scrambles to find people. And even when their are applicants, it can be tremendously difficult to find good people--almost every interview cycle I've been part of has come down to "least terrible".
Might I ask where this is? Around here in the midwest they can get dozens of applicants for every teaching job including those harder to fill areas.
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