7 Things Teachers Wish They Could Tell You

1. "Actually, I didn't have the summer off." A new study by Sam Houston State University showed that 40% of teachers moonlight to make extra money, and 56% of teachers have second jobs during the summer. (http://www.reporternews.com/news/2010/jul/22/more- teachers-have-second-jobs/) According to a survey of teachers by the NEA taken in 2003, 35% of teachers were participating in professional development activities and courses hosted by their school districts.

2. "School is not the place you remember." Ever since A Nation at Risk and No Child Left Behind came into play (not to mention IDEA, FERPA, and ADA), schools have been held accountable for every penny, every test, every teacher, every hour. You may remember that "Mrs. Jones" sat at her desk all day, but you would be hard-pressed to find a teacher or a classroom like that today. As schools have replaced chalkboards with whiteboards and SmartBoards, typewriters with PC's, desks with tables, coat hooks with cubbies and lockers, PA's with phones, so the classroom learning environment, teacher expectations and best practices have also metamorphosed.

Teacher Using SmartBoard
Teacher Using SmartBoard

3. "You know, just because the students are only there for 6 1/2 hours, doesn't mean that my work day is only 6 1/2 hours long." While contractual teacher workweeks range between about 32 and 38 hours a week (less than standard full-time hours), actual teacher working hours (including administrative paperwork, parent meetings, IEP meetings, departmental meetings, student tutoring, grading papers, entering grades, planning lessons, corresponding with parents, writing curriculum, reading books, etc.) are estimated by many sources at between 50 and 60 hours per week.

4. "OK, so you went to school. That doesn't mean you can do my job." About half of all new teachers quit the profession within five years, according to the NEA.

5. "Contrary to popular belief, teaching is not something you should aim to do when   you retire." In 2004, teaching and social work topped the UK's list of the most stressful   jobs. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3573075.stm). In 2008, teachers ranked #4 on Career Builder's list of 8 High-Stress Jobs (http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB- 1005-Job-Search-8-High-Stress-Jobs/).

6. "Merit pay and bonuses would not make me work harder." A new study of 300 math   teachers over three years showed no appreciable difference between the test scores of   students taught by teachers who received bonuses, and those of students taught by   teachers who had not received them. (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class- struggle/2010/09/first_controlled_study_teacher.html)

7. "I do know what I'm talking about. I have two bachelor's degrees, a teaching   certificate, and a masters' degree." Over 50% of teachers have masters' degrees. The   NEA puts this number at 57%. (http://www.nea.org/home/12661.htm) One-hundred   percent of them are required by law to have teaching degrees, and in almost every state,   this means a bachelor's degree. (Not to mention the strict requirements for tens to   hundreds of hours of coursework or professional development needed to re-certify every   few years.)

Speaking of Which...

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Comments 33 comments

breathe2travel profile image

breathe2travel 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

#4 -- I know a handful of people who went to school as non-traditional students in pursuit of a career in education. Probably 20-30% of them quit in under the first 5 years. One of them only lasted a year... it was more the politicking that she couldn't handle than the teaching.

Good insight. :)

Songbird718 6 years ago

Speaking from someone who both has worked in a school district and has grown childen who are teachers, I can vouch for the fact that a teacher's job is not done when the students leave for the day. More often than not, the good teachers are still in the school until 5:00, 5:30, or even 6:00 p.m., just in order to prepare their room for the next day. For example, organizing the different classes' assignments into folders, checking the computer for parent comments to the teacher, making follow-up telephone calls to parents (something that is difficult to do at home, if they have a life after school), and the like. Then, they take the assignments home and try to find time once they are home to grade those assignments. I know this to especially be true of English or Language Arts teachers, who often have essays or papers to grade, in addition to their daily assignment work. And, then there is the never ending grading of papers over the weekend. Just how many hours does an average teacher work??? You don't really want to know! Very good identification of what a teacher's job IS, and IS NOT, Kotori!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful hub! Non-teachers have no idea what teachers go through!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

As a former NYC teacher may I add a couple more fun, horrifying things? Unlike police officers and firefighters - we do not retire in 20 years. Also NYC has something called excessing - you are out of a job if they can't balance the budget (on the backs of those already overworked). After years of schooling then teaching - no, the job is not secure, despite what people are led to believe. The union promised no more excessing some years ago - yet a friend just emailed me to tell me she may be excessed. It's appalling. Oh, and in NYC we are required to have a master's degree.

There is a reason why 50% leave in 5 years - although I think it's higher. The objective seems to be, not to educate so much as to keep children off the street.

On the other hand I taught in S. Korea as well - where they actually spend money not only on education, but on quality, fresh food for lunch.

Nice to meet you by the way. I will be a follower!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America

Exactly on target. I've written about why teachers quit. I've taught and coached and I understand.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Yes, it's so true...many people think the task of a teacher is easy and the job is done when classes are out. But we know differently. Thank you for writing this all down. :)

I also would like to congratulate you because your hub made it into the Hubnuggets! Check it out: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/HubNuggets-in-... Just click that link and it will take you to an adventure. Be sure to read and vote! Enjoy the Hubnuggets.

Love from ripple-whitequeen and the Hubnuggets Team :)

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

And yet, amid all the negative notions on teaching, it is still the best profession to belong with. A very noble job at that. Thanks for this hub, Kotori. Rated it up and voted. Congrats on your nomination!!!

Kotori profile image

Kotori 6 years ago from Chicagoland Author

Thanks for all the feedback! This started out as an opportunity to vent about all of the ignorant comments people make to me, and developed into what it now is.

BKCreative, I can relate. I am an Illinois resident and we are dealing with pension system reforms statewide, and the fact that fireman and policemen have different retirement options is not well-known. Not to mention the fact that these pensions were very secure until our governors started "borrowing" from the funds. In Illinois, "excessing" is referred to as "RIFing" and it happened to my husband.

Travel_man, I agree, or I wouldn't be doing it.

bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Your hub almost made me cry! I just retired from teaching elem school, and everything you said is what I'd like to say!ESPECIALLY #6! I worked my butt off.Pay had nothing to do with it. My work ethic and love for my students were the factors.

Congrats on the nomination!Rate up!

IvoryMelodies profile image

IvoryMelodies 6 years ago

Insightful hub for all of us non-teachers. Can't say I'm surprised that those thoughts would be in a teacher's mind. I have no children of my own, but I do have a nephew with Aspergers. I thank God every day for the team of teachers and staff that have worked so diligently with him. He has integrated very well, and grown tremendously in his areas of challenge, thanks to them and a mother who stays very involved. For a lot of kids, it's not just one teacher - it truly takes a village. And I do not have those skills.

Congrats on the Hubnugget nomination!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA

congratulations for the win - education and science category hubnugget

NCBIer profile image

NCBIer 6 years ago

So true! Teachers work a lot harder than most people realize. It seems to be one of the most under-valued and at the same time, most important, jobs out there. I wonder what it is like for teachers in other countries. Thanks for writing this hub.

Congrats for the win!

Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago

Congrates ! Great hub indeed.

Teachers in Germany get paid very well, as good or better than engineers, so I was told.

SheriSapp profile image

SheriSapp 6 years ago from West Virginia

I am in my 18th year as a Spanish teacher in a public high school in the state of WV. I really enjoyed this hub as it was full of FACTS!! I recently wrote a hub about the role of parenting in the product produced by the schools, and until somebody realizes that there should be accountability for parents as well as teachers, our system will NEVER improve!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I considered going into teaching but could never quite imagine myself doing it. In my day if you went to college and were not going into a business, medical,engineering or similar fields people would say you should be a teacher.

R. J. Lefebvre 6 years ago


I always felt that teaching is not an easy job, considering: personalities, childrens living environment, recognizing childrens unique problems, i.e. dyslexic, hearing, seeing, mental stability, or dealing with parents and school policies.

Can you share your impression of what Michelle Rhee was trying to do for the Distric of Columbia school system. I wrote my opinion in a HubPage, but I confess the impression I shared in my Hub can be all wet, I certainly do not have any real experience other than as a student. We all recognize there are good and bad in every walk of life; do you think Mrs. Rhee was trying to weed out the non-committed teachers and superintendents?


jdove-miller 6 years ago

Wow! Your comments were right on the money. Made me wish I'd written this hub. I retired a few years ago and when I left I was so TIRED! No one knows what a teacher does except another teacher, and nothing makes a teacher appreciate her job like having a student(past or present) say "Thank you."

Alternative Prime profile image

Alternative Prime 6 years ago from > California

Excellent job & congratulations on your HubNugget win!

lifedancer profile image

lifedancer 6 years ago from California

Thank you for "speaking truth to power" and answering the ignorant comments we teachers get like the one about having 3 months of summer vacation. One more reason teacher leave the profession is the isolation from other teachers. Even with "mentor teachers," new teachers are mostly left to sink or swim. Everyone is so stressed that little or no sharing and caring of new teachers happens. We do it because, as you said, of a strong work ethic and commitment and caring for children.

Yes, yes, to the comment about parent accountability.

taniaalicia profile image

taniaalicia 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

In Australia having a masters degree in Education counts for Zero. You get the same wage and privileges as one who has only achieved a graduate status. Just curious, is this the same in other parts of the world?

ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 6 years ago

Thank you so much for writing this hub! You took the words right out of my mouth. I especially appreciate this line: "Not to mention the strict requirements for tens to hundreds of hours of coursework or professional development needed to re-certify every few years."

Kotori profile image

Kotori 6 years ago from Chicagoland Author

Taniaalicia, having a masters degree doesn't count for much in the US. I can't speak to other parts of the world. But for example, a special education teacher requires a masters degree to practice.

Ronnie, I am not up to date on the current situation with Michelle Rhee, but I did read about her two years ago, and saw a special about her. My impression of her at the time was that she really was dedicated to weeding out the bad teaching, and being a teacher in what is called an underprivileged area, I have seen a a lot of that. I think that technique tends to look very good on paper, but that governing by fear always has inherent drawbacks, especially in a love-governed field. It seems to me that her technique was rife with political motivations from the start, and this is unfortunate.

MythiliK profile image

MythiliK 6 years ago from India --> Switzerland

Teaching is like a meditation. Needs patience and effort to win :-)

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Congratulation on the HubNugget Award! This is a right fine Hub here. I enjoyed reading it. And I agree with you. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

Kotori profile image

Kotori 5 years ago from Chicagoland Author

Thank you, everyone, for your highly intelligent commentary. It was a pleasure to read.

artlader profile image

artlader 5 years ago from Aiken, South Carolina, USA

Thank you for this post, Kotori.

The only thing I would add is that we teachers need to remember that almost everyone else is working very hard, too, and dealing with frustrations we know nothing about.

What you see your doctor doing, or an engineer, or a work-at-home mom, or the owner of a small shop is usually only the visible tip of the iceberg. (Cliche, but apt, IMHO.)

Sometimes, we teachers seem to forget that.



Kotori profile image

Kotori 5 years ago from Chicagoland Author

Absolutely, Art. This article is not to minimize others' career-related frustrations, which I happen to know are many! Teaching is definitely not the only job I've had. My students, in fact, remark rather frequently "Is there anything you haven't done?" But more to the point, I do think that people are more likely to maximize in their minds the imagined frustrations of those who earn lots of money than those who don't, and thus this hub was born. Stay at home moms, secretaries, restaurant servers, etc. have some of the most frustrating jobs, in my opinion. I think the thing that stands out about teaching compared to other underestimated careers is the inaccurate perception of reduced working hours, which was one of the things I set about to correct in writing this. Certainly the contractual hours have very little to do with the actual working hours of the job.

artlader profile image

artlader 5 years ago from Aiken, South Carolina, USA

"I think the thing that stands out about teaching compared to other underestimated careers is the inaccurate perception of reduced working hours"

Well, you are certainly right about that, Kotori, and you do a good job addressing that issue.

This perception that teachers are slackers has frustrated me since the beginning of my career.

Do you not think, though, that there is also a perception that we are whiners? I cannot tell you how many times I have encountered that.

- Art

Kotori profile image

Kotori 5 years ago from Chicagoland Author

YES. Although, admittedly I probably get less of that than most teachers because of the perceptions about the community in which I teach. I have literally been asked by outsiders whether of not I "carry a gun" to work. Seriously, yes. I wish I was exaggerating. So people tend not to think of my complaints as whining, because they believe my school to be extremely dangerous.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

AMEN AMEN AMEN!! I can't say anything more than what has already been said. At one time it was viewed by society as a noble profession. Now it is just a dumping ground for all of society's problems. Just blame the teachers they must not be doing there jobs. Excellent hub!

Terri  5 years ago

I agree with all that was said, but I would add one more. Teachers not only have to know how to handle their students but also the parents of their students.

drbruce profile image

drbruce 5 years ago from Singaraja, Bali

Well said, especially now when it seems to be popular to blame teachers not only for the problems in American education, but for the financial crisis as well.

dkm27 profile image

dkm27 4 years ago from Chicago

I received merit pay three times. Colleagues were not happy about the fact that the same individuals received that honor again and again. Too many complaints ended merit pay. Did receiving merit pay improve my teaching? No, it did not. Just kept right on teaching to the best of my ability. Even without merit pay, committed teachers just keep on getting better and better. Money does not do that.

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