Despite the popular belief, a teacher’s struggles have nothing to do with teaching.
We already know how to teach. We’ve studied years and years of psychology, pedagogy, class management and all the modern methods available out there to be fully prepared to teach and serve.
Unfortunately we were never prepared for the real struggles. And if we would have been warned about all these, I’m not sure we would’ve been as enthusiastic about working in education.
- PLANNING. You learn how to meticulously plan your lessons and how to structure the entire curriculum for an entire year (which sometimes is hard enough, especially for music, 1h/week), but no one tells you you’ll never have the time to actually write down the plans. So you have to sacrifice the small breaks between classes to get something done, you’ll have to spend your evenings and weekends writing down and if you thought you were done in two months, you’ll have to go over your plans all over again and modify every small change that occurs. And they do occur. Best case scenario, if you don’t sacrifice your personal time and your holidays, you’ll probably be done with the planning by the end of the school year.
- SCHOOL MANAGEMENT. As if teacher life hasn’t disappointed you enough so far… The school management can become a dreadful problem when people forget why they became educators in the first place. When they are motivated by money and status, everything goes south: communication, attitude, interest…everything. Teachers are no longer treated with respect, they are not encouraged to pursue excellence, the passion for teaching dims down and everything becomes a drag.
- PARENTS. It’s incredibly hard to leave your child every day in the teacher’s care, trusting that he will still get the same love and support you provide for him at home…so hard. I wish I could say that all the mean and inconsiderate comments that we receive sometimes are simply coming out of that fear. Sometimes parents lash out on us because they had a bad day or sometimes they just blow a situation out of proportion. The teacher absorbs everything. We feed on the feed-back. We rarely get feed-back and when we do it’s probably some complaint. And it’s amazing how one little mistake, one day, one event can drop a huge shadow over all the other 200 school days.
- SCHEDULE. Being a teacher is not like any other job. You have your weekly schedule set up. You have to live with it the whole school year. You are irreplaceable. If you miss one day, your classes will be held by other teachers that are on break. They’ll have to go to your spare folder with lessons especially prepared for such an occasion and all the lessons there have to be assignments and individual work because no one else can teach your subject. And when you come back you’ll have to rearrange your lessons because you lost one, for every single class that day. Imagine missing one week. A nightmare. You are not allowed to get sick. If you can stand, you can teach. Try to get pregnant according to schedule. 3 pregnant teachers at once is unacceptable. Having to go on maternity leave in the middle of the school year is unacceptable. Your mom needs to be picked up from the airport? No. There are no emergencies, there are no personal days, there are no bills to be payed and no doctor appointments, you can’t leave earlier and complete your hours the next day, you cannot escape your schedule. Your life is not a priority anymore, your classes are. Everything revolves around them. And somehow you have to fit your life into this schedule and find the time to enjoy it.
- MONEY. To this day I can’t understand the criteria they use to assign salaries for teachers. I’d say if I have to put my life on hold for this job, I should at least not have to worry about next month’s rent or buying a new winter coat. It’s ridiculous.
So as you can see we don’t become teachers because it’s so convenient, so well paid, we are so well-treated and it’s so, so easy.
You know what I always say? If you can’t help me, at least don’t stand in my way!…