Teaching is a wonderful job. My first ever blog post outlined the 5 top reasons why I love being a teacher. However, there are many things that make amazing teachers hate their job and leave the profession.
According to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the “5-year teacher retention dropped again in 2018-19. Just 51 percent of teachers hired in the 2013-2014 school year were still in Hawaii classrooms five years later, down from 54 percent the previous year.”
Spooky, I know.
Especially since I am a part of the 46% teachers still working who were hired in the 2012-13 school year.
So why are teachers leaving the profession?
Many people think the pay is the worst part of the job – it’s not. That’s saying a lot because, as mentioned in my post called Why Teaching? 5 Reasons why I love being a teacher, Hawaii teachers are paid the worst in the nation.
Now, this post is not intended to scare you out of teaching. However, it’s important to have a realistic view of what the job entails before diving in head first.
You don’t want to get your degree and start teaching only to discover too late that it’s not the job for you.
This post is to help give you a taste of the dark side of teaching – 5 reasons why I hate teaching (sometimes).
1. Never Ending Job
Teaching is a never-ending job. It may seem like a dream job with the school day typically being only 6-7 hours.
That doesn’t allow time to do lesson planning, grade papers, respond to parent emails, attend meetings, and the list goes on.
To finish all the things that must be done, there are several options for teachers:
- Get to school before the crack of dawn
- Stay at school until the sun goes down (or later)
- Bring things home to complete at night or over the weekend
Whichever option you choose, that ultimately means time away from your family in addition to your normal work day.
For the first 6 years of my career, this wasn’t that big of a deal because my husband is also a teacher. We both had to bring work home and didn’t mind spending long hours in our classrooms.
Our mindsets and priorities changed this year when we adopted our son.
Now we want to rush home as soon as we can and not have to worry about schoolwork while enjoying quality family time.
So how to do you get everything done?
We have had to become crazy efficient with every second of our day. This means giving 110% while we’re at school to maximize our time.
Cutting the fluff and keeping the stuff.
I still want to be an awesome teacher and want to do my job to my best ability to glorify God (Colossians 3:23).
When I come home, I want to be the best wife and mom which means giving them my wholehearted attention.
This means parents might not get an immediate response to the message they sent at 8 pm. It means I’m not going to spend hours creating cute anchor charts when I can quickly create them on the computer. It means I’m going to update last year’s unit on animals instead of revamping the whole thing like I would in the past.
Every teacher has to make similar choices if they want to keep any semblance of a normal life outside of school.
Teaching is an all-consuming occupation – if you allow it to be.
“But you get summers off!”
I often hear this from non-teachers. This may be true.
But, imagine yourself driving a car at 100 miles an hour for 10 months then coming to a dead stop at the beginning of June. That two-month vacation is not a luxury — it’s a necessity if you don’t want to burn out.
I often spend a lot of time during the summer preparing for the next school year because I know there won’t be enough time to get everything done during the 2 teacher work days we are given at the start of each school year.
I also have a long list of things to finish for school before winter break is over. It’s easier to get stuff done with I’m not actually teaching all day.
If you’re considering a job in teaching, prepare yourself for a never-ending job.
2. Overall Stress
Being able to work under pressure is crucial if you’re going to be a teacher. You also have to have an amazing memory and the ability to multitask.
Here’s a (short) list of things a teacher does in a day:
- Manage the behavior of 25+ students
- Settle arguments
- Grade homework
- Remember who needs to stay in for recess because they didn’t finish their homework
- Change tomorrow’s lesson plans because of something unexpected that happened today
- Figure out why a child is crying
- Figure out why their stomach hurts
- Respond to a parent’s email
- Collaborate with coworkers about how your unit is going
- Monitor students at recess
- Send homework for a sick student
The list could go on and on.
Oh, and I forgot to add actually teaching.
Gotta call in sick? That would entail writing sub plans and preparing all the materials for someone to come in and do all the things on the list above (and more). Sometimes, it’s easier just to tough out a sore throat and runny nose (although we’d highly recommend students stay home with those symptoms).
Given the high demands on teachers, it’s not hard to imagine why so many teachers get burnt out and leave the profession.
3. Constant Change
In my last post, I wrote about how this can be on the plus side of teaching.
Always learning and being able to try new things in your teaching certainly can be refreshing and exciting.
However, it can also be exhausting and frustrating.
Teachers are often mandated to attend new training sessions and try new methodologies, some of which they may not agree.
Once you finally get used to the current “fad,” the pendulum shifts and a new fad arises.
This also entails organizing and utilizing all of the new materials and skills you’ve learned. This will ideally happen when you return to your classroom and settle your students after their day with a sub (remember those sub plans I told you about?).
Now that I’m in my 7th year of teaching, I understand the feeling that more veteran teachers have when they’re told to stop doing what they feel works and try something new.
Teaching is also a profession that must keep up with the latest technologies. I personally love using technology in the classroom and have worked hard to organize things for my grade level on google drive.
I know there will come a day when I’m the teacher asking for help on the computer (or whatever technology will rule our profession in the future).
I fear that day is not too far in the future.
Just this week, I had to ask my niece to come over and show me how to use my graphic drawing tablet and give me some tips on web design (she’s studying graphic design and computer science in college). *sigh*
4. Lack of respect
Teaching can feel like a thankless job. Between disrespectful students, difficult parents, and the incessant workload, it’s easy to feel unappreciated.
This is also a profession where everyone has an opinion on how you do your job.
Even family members!
I know they can mean well when giving advice, but it can be fustrating at times.
Another area where teachers can feel underappreciated is in regards to funding.
I have been very blessed to work in schools where the working conditions were quite good. However, I know this is not the case for many teachers.
Large class sizes, hot classrooms, damaged and mismatched furniture, and inadequate supplies are the reality for many in our profession.
Check out this BBC video featuring the difficulties of being a teacher in Oklahoma.
5. Not being able to stop
I already addressed how teaching is a never ending job. But my final point for you is how teaching can be so all-consuming, that it’s hard to know when to stop.
As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I rush home after school to spend quality time with our son. However, after we’ve eaten dinner and tucked him into bed, my husband and I often spend a few hours doing school work.
There’s always one more worksheet to make, grade to test, or lesson to improve.
We’ve had to make it a rule that we’ll stop working by 8:00 so we can spend time together as well.
It’s very easy for your students and your never-ending to-do list to be constantly on your mind.
- When you’re at the store – ooh, I should get this for my classroom…
- When you’re waiting in line – maybe I’ll reply to a few emails…
- When you run into a coworker at the mall – Could you give me some advice about..?
I have had to make very clear rules for myself in those regards to help me stop working and start enjoying my life.
It’s great to love your job, but it’s a totally different thing for it to totally consume your life.
So those are my 5 reasons why I hate my job (sometimes). If you’re considering becoming a teacher, just make sure you’re aware of what the job calls for.
But don’t just take my word for it.
I’m sure you probably know many teachers yourself. Just go a pick their brains for a bit. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to share with you.
If you still decide to become a teacher – great! It’s a meaningful and fulfilling profession!
Just be prepared for what the job requires of you.
What do you think? Are there any other dark truths about teaching someone considering the profession should be aware of?
I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below 🙂
And don’t forget to subscribe below to stay up to date with my latest teacher tips and ideas!
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!
Work smarter, not harder
Stay up to date with my latest blog posts by subscribing.
Words to live by
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”