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5 Things I Hate About Teaching In A Public School

29 Apr

If you’ve noticed, my intermittent absences on WordPress eventually took on the form of a 5-month hiatus. And there was a perfectly good reason for that…

Once I passed the hurdle of getting accepted into medical school, I knew that there was the other problem of deciding on what to do during my gap year. For some reason, the spontaneous haphazard little voice in the back corner of my head–the same one that advises me to waltz into Sephora because my points game was weak–thought that it would be a fantastic idea to teach for a year.

So when I found an interim position to cover another teacher on maternity leave, I decided to make that leap.

I had the preconceived notion that everything was gonna be as smooth as butter on a stack of pancakes, but little did I know I was in for the big surprise. And when I strolled into the classroom in my brand new set of H&M pantsuit and matching heels, I felt like Jasmine thrown into A Whole New World; the only difference was that she had Aladdin and I had no one.

Here are the 5 main things that I absolutely hate about teaching:

Class sizes are too big

I taught a science course ranging from 9th-12th grades–5 periods, each with 35+ kids. Since we were on block scheduling, I had two different classrooms for different days. And both sucked. One being a tiny heat box just barely able to cramp all 37 desks together, the other was a huge art classroom (I taught science, for goodness sakes) with desks arranged so further away that if little Johnny was playing Candy Crush in the back during my lesson, it would be hard for me to notice because he’s a mile away. On the special days right before the Christmas break though, I would have no problem engaging 100% of the kids because all of the 15 eyes present are directly on me.

Low, Low Pay

It’s hard to appreciate the sacrifices and efforts of a teacher unless you step into their shoes. The meager salary of $37k-40k just isn’t worth all the grade A bull$#*t that teachers constantly put up with: kids with behavioral issues, angry parents who think their children are angels, pressure from administration, standardized testing, etc. I’ve known many teachers who, after treading through an 8-hour day of nonstop instruction and class management, report directly to a second job elsewhere (at a local supermarket or tutoring center) because they gotta put food on the table for their families. With that salary, you would be better off working a desk job because you’ll be entitled to as many bathroom breaks as you want.

Burn Out

A common misconception that makes teaching appear easy is the 7/8 hrs work-day. For many teachers, the day doesn’t end when the bell rings at 2:20 pm, simply because there’s either so much grading to catch up on (think 200 essays with 2+ pages each), lessons/activities to plan, and parent-emails/conferences that need resolution. In my case, I was constantly burnt out, the weekends were nonexistent, sleep was a blessing, and alcohol-mixed coffee was a novelty that made all my problems go away.

Lack of Respect

From experience, I can say that freshmen are the best when compared to mean-spirited, homework copying, complaining, lazy upper classmen tainted by senioritis. The majority of freshmen are curious, motivated, respectful, and all-around bright little souls who’ve just entered high school and want to make you proud. Yet, it’s downright sad to watch the bubbly innocence that they once possess transform into a lurid cauldron of I-don’t-care attitude over the next four years. Of course, this isn’t always the case; there are those few exceptions who never lose their passion for learning. But the majority of upperclassmen–once they think they know how to play the game–won’t give a crap about talking/sleeping while you’re teaching, what your classroom rules are, and why they can’t interrupt your lesson to use the bathroom for 15 minutes only to come back with a bag of chips and a diet coke (Since when did bathrooms have vending machines).

Angry Parents

During my time as a teacher, I’ve encountered many receptive parents. Thank God. In one case, I had a student on the verge of failing. The problem: constant talking and no note-taking. So, I called the father, who was very understanding and immediately pulled him out of football until something changed. In the coming weeks, his grades went up. Everyone was happy. The father even called afterwards to check on how his kid was doing in class. Not all parents show this type of involvement. Some parents like to put their kids on a golden pedestal. Little Johnny cheated on a test? But that’s impossible because I KNOW my kid would never do that. (I hope you’re rolling your eyes because I am too)

The worst experience I’ve ever had was when an irate mother yelled at me over the phone for giving her daughter a C on a group project. Now, the assignment was easy, mind you. And the rest of the class got an A+++ because it was so easy. All they had to do was compose a skit and include the main points on a rubric that even a fifth grader could understand. But of course, the kid decided to slack off and ignore the rubric all together. What she ended up turning in was a pile of recycled trash that would’ve gotten an F if I didn’t find the leniency in my heart to give her a C. Reading her work almost gave me cancer because of how much bullshit radiated from the page. With that said, after many futile attempts to get me to bump up her grade, she decided to get Mama Crazy involved. Of course, my grading was fair and square. And when I referred her to my Principal, she then decided to laugh it off and said it would be best to put this behind us.

If she was an Instagram hashtag, it would be #WasteMyTime2017.

To Sum Up

Now, I’m not saying that teaching is a profession that all should avoid. There were many good times I had with my students and occasions where class discussions relevant to the lesson made me wish there was more time in the period because everyone in the classroom was so cohesive as a unit that I could talk about the subject forever. But do I view this as a long-term profession that I could manage? Not in a million years.

Props to all the strong teachers out there who brave through the everyday frustrations and hardships inside the classroom. It’s always easier said than done.

More posts on makeup and hauls coming soon. Thank you for hearing my $0.02!

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