10 Big Issues You Probably Didn’t Know Teachers Handle Every Day
Teacher’s Appreciation Day may be a few months away, but we’re celebrating early!
Unlike most other professions, teachers don’t get to “leave work” when they head home for the day. Work just comes home with them!
The next time you find yourself envious of a teacher’s ability to “get out of work early” and “take the whole summer off,” read this post. Teachers are the unsung heroes in our workforce for so many reasons—here are some things teachers do on a daily basis for the love of teaching.
1. Teachers handle mountains of paperwork every day.
“Do teachers have too much paperwork?”
If you laughed when you read that headline for an article in the Washington Post, you’re probably a teacher. Few teachers have access to teacher aides, and parent help is infrequent, leaving teachers to handle piles of paperwork on their own. On a given night, you’ll find many preschool, elementary, and middle school teachers preparing craft supplies, grading papers, or working on a curriculum change (see #9).
2. Dealing with parents can be harder than dealing with kids.
Of course teachers are happy when parents take a genuine interest in their own child’s education. But when your child must get an A at any cost, and you approach teachers as if they’re at a WWE wrestling match, it’s a problem. Few behavioral problems in the classroom require the amount of patience it takes to listen to a parent rant and rave about the “messy” glitter used in his child’s craft. It also costs teachers valuable time they could spend—you guessed it—on paperwork.
3. An average public school teacher’s classroom is packed.
For most U.S. schools, underfunding and overcrowding are huge problems. There just isn’t enough room in the classroom to accommodate 35+ kids, and no money available to expand classrooms or buy enough seating. Not even babysitters are expected to be responsible for that many overexcited 2nd graders—much less teach them actual lessons. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that teachers have very limited bathroom breaks. It’s not an easy job!
4. Frequently, a teacher’s money goes right back into the classroom.
How do teachers deal with a tiny school budget? Often by pulling out their own wallet. All those fun Pinterest projects that require googly eyes and cotton balls were most likely brought to you by your local teacher’s pocketbook. That color-coded folder your child received on the first day of school? Just go ahead and write her teacher a check!
5. Teachers are pros at filling out grant applications.
While we’re talking about money, let’s talk about grant applications. Not only are these forms long, they often require paragraphs of answers to questions. Nonprofits are nearly synonymous with grant writing, but you might not be aware that public school teachers are grant writers too. In fact, they could probably get a career in it if they wanted to. Many teachers turn to sites such as GoFundMe to supplement their classroom budget, as it’s slightly easier to get funding.
6. Sick days aren’t any fun for teachers.
When office workers get sick and use a sick day or two, they end up with extra emails, missed meetings, and shorter timelines on projects. For teachers, sick time actually means double the work. Not only do you have to get a sub approved, but you have to create lesson plans for all of the days you’re out. Teachers are pros at “sucking it up” to avoid dreaded post-sick-day fallout. Don’t worry, they also tend to wash their hands religiously.
7. Support from upper management really matters.
There are two kinds of principals in the world: those who side with teachers, and those who side with parents, no matter what. If you’re a teacher, you know how invaluable a principal who looks out for teachers first can be. This doesn’t mean they don’t care about weighing situations carefully and looking out for a student’s best interest. It partly means fewer headaches from#2.
8. Work doesn’t really end at three.
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions about teaching—the idea that teachers get off work at exactly 3:00 p.m. while the rest of the world continues to slave away at their real jobs. In fact, teachers are more likely than any other professionals to take work home. On top of this, 17% of teachers hold another job on top of teaching. Still envy a teacher’s work schedule?
9. Curriculum changes are a never-ending process.
“No Child Left Behind.”
“Every Student Succeeds.”
Bills that get passed in Washington affect teachers in a big way. On top of revising lesson plans and curriculums, teachers must adhere to new teaching standards and requirements. It’s kind of the law! It’s not that they’re not excited about changing teaching methods that will improve every child’s learning experience—it’s just tough to keep up!
10. Teachers are not just teachers.
Teachers may have one job title on LinkedIn (or even two, see #8). But they’re more than just teachers while they’re at work. “Teachers are nurses, counselors, cheerleaders, and advocates for children,” says Alissa Lee, a 1st-grade teacher in San Diego, CA. If your child is in elementary or middle school, teachers spend just as much time with your kids as you do!
Why do teachers put up with it? Well, luckily, for the love of teaching. The next time you talk to a teacher—whether it’s your child’s teacher, your friend, or a fellow teacher—make sure to thank them for all of their hard work.
Teachers, what did we miss? Is there anything you deal with on a daily basis for the love of teaching? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Want to learn more about effective teaching methods and classroom ideas? Check out these recent ECR4Kids blog posts:
- Overcoming Classroom Challenges
- Give Your Child a Boost with These Great Children’s Books
- Building Optimal Environments for Learning and Development