6 inconvenient truths about teaching

Inconvenient truths about teaching

Yes, there are truths about teaching that one may not be comfortable with. Although teaching may be one of the noblest professions, teachers are the first to be scapegoated when something is wrong. Teaching may also be the cause of so much heartache. No matter what a teacher does, no matter how hard he works, only few people will see the difference he/she can make in students lives.

1. Ingratitude

In spite of all the hard work that teachers do, they will always be subject to criticism. If the educational system is flawed, it’s the teachers fault. Teachers may also be judged  to be the most ignorant of all professions. You can have a look at one of Larry Ferlazzo’s posts that show this heart breaking ingratitude and scapegoating teachers.

2. Stress

Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs. teaching can do so much harm to your health. Here is a post by Sean Banville where he is alarmed by his health condition after a visit to the doctor. Teaching is a hard mission. Here is a quote by Donald D. Quinn that show how stressful teaching may be:

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”

3. Savior

You may think that a teacher’s job is to instruct knowledge. Yes, it’s true. But that’s not the only mission. Another very important teachers role is to light the fire! Teachers must awaken pupils creativity, highlight their strengths and improve areas of weakness. But the catch is that this mission is not always achieved as there will always be some students lagging behind. Teachers  have no magic wand.

4. Poverty

Poverty plays an important role in school achievements. Students coming from rich families do better than thos that come from poor ones. An unfair deal! Socioeconomic factors play an important role in school performance. A teacher has very little to do about this!

5. Lonely fighter

A teacher takes in charge the responsibility of all the students in his class. The problem is that the responsibility is overwhelming and she/he has to assume failure or success ALONE.

6. A never-ending goodbye

It is, as ddeubel says in his post “an unbearable lightness“,  we finish a school year only to start a new one. We say goodbye to the faces that we have become so accustomed to see for a whole year:

“People come and go like ghosts, it is over. We await the “new” and September when there is rebirth and the cycle starts again. And that’s how school is.”

These are some of the inconvenient truths about teaching that come to my mind. If you think that I missed anything please feel free to post it in a comment!


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5 Responses

  1. I would add that another inconvenient truth about teaching is that no matter how hard you work, you will never feel like you did enough. You’ll never feel “finished.” There’s always one more intervention to try, one more child to reach on one more day and on and on.

  2. Hi Mohammed,

    It was only after I left teaching that I really learned how true #5 is. No matter how much a teacher engages with others (in a PLN or otherwise), the daily work that a teacher does is often alone. You share your stories and collaborate with colleagues as much as possible, but the highs and lows are yours.

    This can be very good. When a student finally grasps a concept or uses a phrase that s/he has been struggling with, you feel great going home. When a real teachable moment is taught, it makes the rest of your evening.

    It can also be very bad. When a lesson just doesn’t work or a student is particularly frustrating, it can ruin an entire week.

    It makes for very high-running emotions, but it also makes for endless chances to start again. I hadn’t read David’s post on this type of unbearable lightness, but I will. I will also say that working in an environment of drawn-out projects can make you miss the time when each lesson was its own beginning and ending.

  3. Hi John!
    Yes the highs and the lows are yours. The time you plant a seed and see it blossom in front of you is just a MAGIC moment. But when a lesson is a fiasco, THEN it’s the heartache…for YOU only YOU. The blame is yours!

  4. Hi tami!
    Thank you for adding a seventh inconvenient truth. I would like also to add a #8 one:
    Teaching is one of the lowest paid professions.

  5. Hi Si Mohammed,
    That’s really a good job you’re doing. Keep up the great job.

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