There are few other professions where people think they know it all even if they have never been trained. Teaching is one of them. So what do teachers wish the world knew about being a teacher? A lot!
New and veteran teachers shared with us some of the things they wish the world knew about teaching. Some of their concerns were poignant. Some were lighthearted. And some of the things they wish the world knew were born out of frustration at being in an undervalued yet invaluable profession.
What Teachers Wish the World Knew About Being a Teacher
The Mountain of Responsibilities Isn’t Easy to Climb
Many people think that teaching is merely writing a lesson plan and magically getting students to listen and learn. While writing lesson plans is part of it, there is also the researching, sourcing of materials, creating activities, differentiation of lessons, and more that goes into each class. Being well-versed and continually learning new classroom and behavior management strategies is also vital.
But, for teachers, the responsibilities don’t end there. Committees, meetings, IEPs, evaluations, assessments, data collection and analysis, collaboration, parental contact and involvement, recess/lunch/bus duty, and more are also part of the typical teacher’s day. As one veteran teacher said, “I want [the world] to understand how the list keeps growing every year. I’ve been teaching for eight years, and every year, we are expected to do more with less.”
Politics are the Norm
Think schools aren’t political? Think again! Politics inside and outside of the school dictate a large portion of what is taught, what agendas are addressed, and what activities occur. From school boards to administration, politics play a huge role in what happens in schools.
Teachers Spend A Lot of Money
They spend a lot of money, but the majority of it isn’t on themselves. In fact, teachers spend hundreds to thousands of dollars every school year purchasing materials and supplies to provide a safe and happy learning environment for their students. Schools are often lacking essential supplies, and teachers are the ones who fill in the gaps. From crayons to food to books to technology, teachers spend an extraordinary amount of money on their students and classrooms. In few other professions, are employees expected to fund their work environment with their own money.
State Testing Drives Decision-Making
While politics play a role in teaching and schools, it is second only to its equally unpopular cousin, state testing. As one teacher explained, “Teachers make VERY FEW curriculum decisions for their students. The state test drives all decision-making.”
Weekends are for Working
Forget relaxing on the weekends. Teachers spend hundreds of hours outside of their contract days preparing lessons, creating resources, writing notes, grading papers, and planning. “Even on vacation, I’m looking for ideas and planning ways to better meet the needs of my individual students,” one teacher said. Others agreed. “I spend every night and weekend working on planning and paperwork.”
It may be easy to clump teachers together, but they want the world to remember that they are human. “We are humans with feelings and are not perfect,” expressed one teacher.