Dear Guys On The Train,

I must apologize for starters. It’s all my fault. I was eavesdropping. I tend to do that on the red line. Unlike most folks who keep their earbuds in and their music up loud, I don’t want to miss anything. I’m a chronic people watcher. And lately, I’ve found that paying attention can be a ministry in itself. So, that’s really all I was trying to do.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about you guys.

I heard you, the one with your tie loosened up wearing the Rolex, ya you, talking to your other friend in the nice suit. Talking about your other friend, Josh. Your conversation went a little something like this:

“Dude, he never goes out anymore. Ever. He’s like a hermit.”

“I know, bro. He acts like he’s so busy. He teaches f**king third grade. His day ends at like 3, haha”

“God, I wish he knew what it was like in the real world for a day. He thinks his job is so hard.”

*Insert awkwardly long laughter*

“Ya, and he’s been a cheapskate ever since we left Ann Arbor.”

“Seriously. Try living with him. But he can’t expect to make as much as we do when we work our a**es off year round. It’s only October and I mean he’s got fall break coming up and he’ll be off for Thanksgiving and he gets several weeks off at Christmas time, yet he thinks he’s got it rough.”

“If only he knew…”

“Ha.” *Checks phone* “Wanna grab a beer? Taylor just texted me and said they’re going out.”

“Hell ya, man. I’m down.”

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Then you guys got off at the stop before mine and I was left thinking. The more I thought about it and replayed your conversation in my mind, I knew I had to write you.

I don’t know your other friend Josh, but he’s clearly not as cool as you guys going out on a Wednesday night at 10 ‘o clock for beers with Taylor. (Whoever he/she is.)

From what I gathered, you guys are sick of your teacher friend. You’re annoyed at how frugal he is, how early he goes to sleep, and how much time off he gets.

The thing is, I wanted to speak up so badly, but I suppressed my inner thoughts, which were bursting at the seams, and withheld from butting into your conversation.

Until now.

You see, I wanted to inform you that I was a public school teacher for several years. That I taught high school, 6th, and 1st grade. That I resigned after this past school year ended because I couldn’t take it anymore. That I wasn’t cut out for it even with 2 doses of Lexapro each day.

I wanted to ask you if you’ve ever had to run on a treadmill for 8 hours straight on a speed that’s just a tad too fast because that’s the only way I could describe the physical exhaustion of being a teacher.

I wanted to correct you in your assumption that Josh’s workday ended around 3pm. [As a former teacher, I can’t help but offer you a mini-lesson: Teachers arrive before school begins and stay long after it ends. They spend countless hours in the evenings, on weekends, and especially during their “long breaks” completing lesson plans, grading assignments, filling out behavior charts, calling parents, scheduling meetings, updating IEPs, preparing for standardized tests, writing out goals, changing the theme on the bulletin board, buying supplies for a science experiment (in an effort to make learning fun and hopes that the kids will love it), coaching sports, tutoring, entering grades, cleaning their classroom, filing paperwork, communicating with necessary colleagues about specific student needs, etc. I guess it’s not a mini lesson after all. Oops.]

I wanted to challenge you to work all day without using the restroom once, to eat your brown-bagged lunch in less than 7 minutes, and to stay patient when you have twenty-something students in desperate need for your attention and you just want to reply to an email.

I wanted to break it down for you so that you could better understand why Josh is frugal. Why, aside from being utterly exhausted, he doesn’t go out as much anymore. For pennies each hour per student, he’s busting his butt to ensure they are not only educated, but taught to be kind and courageous, and are safe and loved.

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I wanted to reminisce on my time in the classroom and share with you about the students whose home lives kept me up at night and the emotional toll this took on me and my marriage.

I wanted to make you ponder the differences of your job and his, but I’m afraid we would’ve run out of time. I’ll just throw this one out there: you can get away with being tired and hungover, whereas Josh has to be ON from the minute those kids arrive in the morning.

I wanted to tell you that, in case you weren’t aware, teachers don’t fill out expense reports at the end of each week. It all comes out of their pocket. And only a guy like Josh would be cool enough to sacrifice a beer in order to buy scissors for his 3rd graders.

I wanted to give you a hundred ideas for how you could be supportive of Josh and the selfless job he’s chosen. 

I wanted to acknowledge that your jobs are probably hard, too, but gently remind you that at least you’re respected and compensated. Teachers can’t earn bonuses or raises. The incentive to be the best boils down to the heart and a strong dose of integrity.

I wanted to let you know that I now work in “the real world” as you put it and it’s only reaffirmed my once biased belief that teachers have one of the hardest, most important, undervalued and underpaid jobs in the world.

Sincerely,

The Ex-Teacher On The Train (and an advocate for all Joshes in this world)

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325 comments

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Mmmm yes. I feel this exact same way working in social services. When everything is working against you ( time, resources, money, lots of times your own clients …). Being paid very little and always overworked. As a professional, always being put into a box. Services can ALWAYS be better but it’s money of all things keeping them from really doing lasting good. Billions of dollars are being poured into entertainment outlets such as sports teams when local organizations that work with and love on girls who are “throw aways” and used only for their bodies are fighting to stay alive. Yes, people who don’t do this work will never understand. And the respect will never be on the same level as cooperate jobs. I struggle with this every day.

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YES! I could not agree with you more. I wish there was a way to shake this world and reevaluate how we compensate and -in general- treat our educators, social workers, non-profit organizations, etc. It’s always been a struggle of mine. I know so many people who are in the corporate world who have the utmost respect for people in these types of professions, but unfortunately there are still some out there who just don’t have a clue. 🙁

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Thank you so much for this post. I am a first year teacher in one of the toughest districts in the nation. It has been really rough so far. I now suffer from anxiety attacks and overwhelmed with the amount of work I have. I teach three grades and three different curriculum. As a result, my relationship is falling apart because I no longer have time even for myself. Nobody understands how much work goes into being a teacher. I immeditely sent this article to my boyfriend and family so that they could understand that being a teacher is not as easy as it seems and that I’m not exaggerating. Reading this brought tears to my eyes because all I could think of was “yes! Finally someone understands!” Thank you so much

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Im a teacher the best advice i can give u is plan plan plan and try to keep all grades on similar standards. Ots a lot easier

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Shavon,

As a 4th year, special education middle school teacher in NYC, I feel your pain. The first year is very difficult on your relationship, your nerves, emotional well-being, and in my case getting rest because of insomnia where I would literally sleep no more than 3-4 hours a night till the December break. The first year of teaching sucks, I’m not going to candy coat it, BUT it gets so much better, I promise. You’ll notice, as you get through winter and into spring, you really start getting the hang of things and your second year of teaching compared to the first is like night and day. You will have moments where you really connect with a student, or see one have a genuine “ah ha” moment that make all the work and sacrifices seem worth it.

I will say having to teach three different grades and curriculums seems ridiculous and I’m not sure how a principal in good conscious would have a first year teacher take on that Herculean task (although I did teach Math, Science, ELA and Social Studies my first year to a self-contained 6th grade so I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount curriculum you must learn in order to teach it.) That being said, find the teachers in your school that are cool and willing to share their resources and advice, and maybe even let you observe them and vice versa for feedback. Seek out a teaching mentor you can lean on and look to for help. Do what ever you need to do to make your job easier, even if that means buying books from Amazon that have differentiated lessons and content, or a site such Teachers Pay Teachers for lesson plans, or superteacherworksheets.com where you can give them work tailored to their needs if they finish early or need practice in a particular area. Make sure your students have longer projects to work on where they do research, drafting, and presenting, as it’s good for them and gives you a chance to breathe and not be on stage every day. Also you have to take some time for yourself every week even if it’s just 4-5 hours out with your significant other for dinner and a movie on a Saturday. Believe it or not, but your pedagogical execution in the classroom will suffer if you are just school 24/7 without giving yourself a break.

I could go on and on with the advice, but I’ll leave you with this: be kind to your kids. They will remember you for how you treat them as opposed to some lesson you created. I’m not saying let them walk all over you, as classroom management is arguably the hardest part of teaching, but paramount to having a successful school year as you can be firm and give clear structure (kids actually crave it) and still be a caring teacher. Best of luck!

– Tim

From one middle school special education teacher to another…well said! 13 years for me and I still love it.

Tim,
For a 4th year teacher, you really do have the insight required to make it as a teacher. I am a 29th year special educator. It really is so important to make time for yourself/your family. I also agree about seeking advice/expertise/historical knowledge from colleagues and anywhere else you can beg, steal, or borrow it!
Good Luck to you both!

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Hi Shavon,

I’ve just finished reading the article, and then read some comments. I had to respond to yours!

I really hope your first year in teaching is a success. My first year was rough too, and ended up moving to another school who luckily were very supportive and brilliant. I achieved great results there. After a few years of teaching though, I quit and am now a self employed artist. I still work in schools as a supply teacher and enjoy that too. I am much happier now, and so is my husband (now that I don’t stay up until midnight working everyday, and have stopped stealing stationery from home).

Try and hang in there for the first year, because then you’ll have passed your NQT year and have other options. If you need a break, personally I love supply teaching.

I hope your family can accept you’re going to be a hermit for this year at least! Also, I know you have about 30 kids to worry about, but remember to think about what you need too.

Best wishes.

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Hi Shavon,

Just read the post and then some comments, and had to reply to yours!

I had a rough NQT year as well (I assume you’re in your first year teaching, not teaching the first year). I hope I’ve understood that right. I ended up moving to another school who were very supportive and brilliant, and I achieved great results there. However after a few years I quit (yes I am a statistic), and am now a self employed artist and supply teach too. I am much happier, and so is my husband now that I don’t stay up until midnight working everyday and have stopped stealing stationery from home.

I hope your first year teaching is a success. Once you’ve done that year, living as a hermit, hopefully you will think more about what YOU need or want. Whether that is finding a way to work in a more manageable way as a teacher, or have a break and do supply (which I love), or do something entirely different! I know the kids are important, but so are you.

Look after yourself. 🙂

What’s a “supply teacher” is it the same as a substitute teacher here in the USA?

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Shavon,
I give you all the props and respect for venturing out into the crazy, many times unappreciated world of teaching! My parents were both teachers and I always vowed not to do that. But I also saw how many lives they touched and changed for the better. Hang in there – you are amazing and I’m sure are touching MANY lives! We appreciate you!

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I agree! I appreciate this post so much! Having taught for 18 years, you would think I would have it all figured out, but each year brings new challenges and new experiences. I can’t imagine doing anything different, but would love to experience not having to stress over being able to pay my monthly bills or feeling like I could comfortably take a weekend trip with my family without having to make sacrifices and do without something else. I have always wanted to go into this profession because of my love of teaching AND so I would have the opportunity to have the same schedule as my own children, but when I get to school at 6:30 am and don’t leave some days until 8:00 pm, spend at least one day each weekend planning, grading, or organizing, then this past summer attending Professional Development for all but two weeks of the summer I’m about to the end of my rope and worn out. So when we get paid on the last day of the month and on the 2nd day of the month I’m wondering how we are going to get to the end again it’s hard to keep a positive attitude and feel like you are getting compensated for what I work so hard to do. I guess the reason I’m still in the profession is because it is truly my calling and I do love what I do!

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Shavon,

I was just recently in your shoes. I’m in my second year of teaching. I struggled in the first few months because I not only had 200 7th graders, but I also was teaching a curriculum that was specific to the school. I was lucky enough to have amazing teachers to collaborate with but I still felt like was coming up short. There were a few times I straight up cried in my classroom during my prep period because I felt I wasn’t enough. However, I decided to make a change. I looked at my kids and dug deep to see their potential. I asked questions to people with a little bit more experience than I. I just loved my students and told them I loved them. I set some goals and decided I would “clock out” for my sanity. I promise you, it gets better. Do what you can and let you love for the kids make up the rest. They’ll see it and respond. It might take them awhile but you can do it. Thank you for reminding me why I went into teaching/coaching. You’ve got this!

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I retired after 20-some years of teaching at the elementary level. My 2 most difficult years were the ones when I taught 4th/5th combination classes….2 curriculums, with no support for a multi-age classroom and several difficult students. To put that workload on a first-year teacher is cruel! You may never be as prepared as you wish you were, and there will be a lot of mistakes made and lessons learned,.. but make sure you take care of yourself, even if that means just little things, I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s important.

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I do hope you continue past your first year of teaching. It is undoubtedly the worst year of teaching and the most gratifying. Keep a journal of your thoughts and wishes and stories of the kids. You will forget all of this over the years. Yes, teaching is the hardest job in the world ( not to put down any other service job) because you are not only to educate these children for the future; but you are to make sure they are loved, cared for, fed, unhurt, nurtured, etc. You have to be father, mother, nurse, psychologist, welfare worker, janitor, etc, as well as teacher. You may be the only person in their life that stays the same day after day. You are their only consistent role model. You can’t drop your guard or let your attention roam for a minute or the kids will be out of control again. I will have to caution you to make sure you make time for your own body and mind. Make time for your family and friends. That is the most important thing you can do to help yourself. If you aren’t 100%, you can’t give the best of yourself to the kids. Ask for help from your peers. If one teacher won’t help, ask another. Most teachers want to help those newbies. We learn from you as well as you learn from us.
Teaching has a lot of challenges that must be faced; but if you chose teaching, you chose it because of your love of kids and your desire to make a difference. You may not know how much you helped a student for many years after he/she left your classroom. You may never know; but you can know that you definitely made a difference when you see a newspaper article or FB entry that your student passed the Bar or became a doctor or even helped in a homeless shelter. The results of your work is not seen at the end of the year but all through your students lives. You know your choice of profession was worth it when you get a note from your “worst behaved student” telling you that you were his/her favorite teacher and they remember you every time they do something. Or hear that they pass something you taught them on to their own children. Smile and keep on working.

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Manda,
Your article is so true. I tried teaching, but I just could not handle the stress of it and I left the profession. My friend is 67 and she still teaches high school English. She has 3 preps and she teaches IB – International Baccalaureate which is even more strenuous than AP classes. By the way, Carole would LOVE to have 20 kids to teach. Her average class has 37 students and all of them have to write essays that are not only graded at the school, but sent to others at IB for their assessment. It is one of the hardest jobs in the world and I respect anyone who works hard to teach our children.

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Amen!!!! Preach on, sisters! I taught secondary math in an urban public school district in Mississippi for 17 years. I loved it, but it was killing me. Administrators and legislators have made teaching into torture. If you care enough to work hard and make personal sacrifices for “your kids” and work endless hours trying to make a difference, then you become overwhelmed. I ended up having a complete nervous breakdown. I resigned, planning to go to another district, but my confidence was destroyed. I didn’t have “it” anymore. I was born to teach, but that part of me is broken beyond repair. I was hospitalized briefly and have been in therapy and thoroughly medicated for years now. I miss teaching so much, but I have accepted that my calling lies elsewhere now. If school districts recognized the need to support and encourage teachers, even provide counseling, maybe the mass exodus from teaching could be stopped. In MS, there’s a serious teacher shortage. Thank you for this piece. It is validating to me, knowing that I am not alone in my frustration with the education system and the attitude of the general public. God bless you.

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Hi Sherry,

Have you thought about Substitute Teaching. It usually doesn’t pay great but it’s very rewarding. I left the corporate world and started subbing. I found I love it and I have TREMENDOUS respect for all teachers. I’m sorry you had to leave teaching. I hope you can find a way to still work with children and not have the stress. Thanks for your years teaching.

Beth

Beth

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I don’t see where to add comments so I will add mine here: I have been teaching for 41 consecutive years and love it but it is harder with the new demands placed on teachers. Two of my children, with three Ivy League degrees between them, quit teaching after three years each. My daughter loves her new job (“I finally feel respected”) although she misses her third graders and wonderful colleagues. My son said when he quit teaching AP Biology and coaching, that “I want a life. I spend every waking hour either planning, teaching, grading, setting up labs, or coaching.” He also loves his new job and loves being on community sports teams and going to Trivia nights. I am really sad that my children left a profession I love, despite being successful in their respective jobs, but I understand how very hard it is today to stay in teaching, and I want my children to be happy. I value those who stick it out in any helping profession.

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These jobs are both helping jobs. Basically, society takes it for granted that helpers will keep helping because of the intrinsic value of it all. Nevermind that we don’t have what we need to do a great job, unless we spend our meager earnings.

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Girl. Yes. As a teacher, thank you for writing this and advocating for us. Beautifully written!

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Thank you Abbie – I feel EXACTLY the same way – working in non-profit organizations are some of the toughest jobs out there – it’s like survivor – “Here’s an outdated list and some old equipment – make it rain and get that 100k grant” – there are no raises or bonuses – I just try and think of the clients who have done really well and that I played some small part of making that happen – it helps me sleep at night when I worry that I have no 401 k or future pension. Saying a little prayer for both of us – may that big (un-expected) holiday donation arrive!

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Absolutely spot on! Sharing! Thank you💞

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I just wanted to say thanks for writing this!! You are bang on about all that teachers do, and I am also a teacher who quit after basically losing myself and my mind, trying to be the best I could be for my students. I always try to explain it by saying that to know how insane teaching is, just imagine having 30 of your own children running around day in and day out. Who you love, care for, teach, feed, read to, play with, and basically see more than any other person for 10 months.

It is difficult to hear people’s views on teaching, but thanks to people like you, and also our wonderful teachers, I hope more people will grow to understand that it is not an easy or fun job at many times. Cheers!

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Add nurses, care aides and home support workers to the list. I was a nurse for almost 40 years and loved it…that is until the last 10. Staff reduction, increased workloads, privatization of support service…just keep doing more with less. Under the circumstances, I couldn’t provide nursing care the way I had been trained to. I finally retired early.

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I worked the other end of the ed spectrum – the 16 to 19s, but it’s just as hard there.
I wanted to give you this. As a maths tutor, I like numbers to show how things work. That “eight week break” we get over summer, breaks down like this.

Two weeks marking the projects, assignments and exams they did just before the end of term. Exams pay about 4p per paper, and you could get 3 or 4 hundred papers. Two weeks mandatory training – not only am I not paid for this, but it generally costs me between £500 and £2000.A week of A-level results – and working through clearing,, job apps and further study apps. A week of GCSE results – and ringing round colleges getting the next step sorted for those students. Four days of Open Evenings, trying to sell college to enough students that I have a job next year. Two days of reading the new contract in tiny print and legalese – to make sure that I don’t accidentally sign up to do twenty odd more hours for free. (so far the record is eight mandatory unpaid hours, but every year they try some more) Eight days of rewriting lesson plans to account for this years changes in curriculum.

Oh, look, one day left – because I put off one of the planning days until the first weekend after term starts to have my birthday off. Office person, you get a longer weekend than I got “summer break.” – and all for the privilege of 2 months of not being paid (barring the pittance for exam marking)

25 paid classroom hours means about 50 working hours – and for less money than I’d get stacking shelves in Aldi.
At the point in time when they decided I should be charged for being ill, I finally gave up. And the Joshes of this world wonder why there is a crisis in teaching recruitment!

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Thanks for this Amands I’m at year 38 and most likely will only do one more year. Probably would do more but family health issues take priority. I know I will miss the kids and my colleagues. I won’t miss the politics, “reformers” or critics like your bus companions. Keep informing. Glad to know there is a voice out there that knows and cares.

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Thank you!!!! After 24 years of being “Josh”, and lots of Lexapro and blood pressure medication, I too left the classroom this year. It is a job that no one will ever be able to truly understand until they actually DO IT. I agree with you when you acknowledged that many others work hard in their jobs as well, but the compensation and respect are disproportionate. When I left the profession I left many friends still fighting the good fight in their classrooms every day- I confess I feel guilty– like I’ve broken a soldier’s code “leave no man behind”! God bless you teachers!

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I so agree. I am a teacher but I believe Social Services never get enough money to do the job they want and need to do. Low pay for lots of schooling and long days with very few thank yous. So here is a big thank you.

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It so hard to explain what we do, but this article pretty much nailed it…many teachers quit before they reach their fifth year because it’s just too much. I wanted to add on to that part of a teacher’s job that is becoming more and more “business like” or “real world” with analyzing data, statistics, making “measurable goals” in form of numbers driven by more data that we spend hours analyzing. Department and school meetings becomes less and less about the best teaching strategies for your content area or ways to get them more engaged…And more about their test scores and our effectiveness according to the RISE rubric or TER in comparison to the state vs national stats per content area per grade level, etc…Teachers are not being encouraged, supported, or appreciated to the extent that we should a lot of times….so yeah, when someone says we work less “days” or get more “breaks” it’s hard to comprehend because no one knows all this goes on. Teachers cannot expect gratitude or compensation for the extra hours or nights put in without pay. I always wish I could clock in or get paid double for working till 8 or 9pm. Although that would be nice, we are told that our extra hours in are just a part of the job. It’s what is expected of us. We love our kids, so we go along with it all…. The ups and the downs, it’s a calling one must have for sure!

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This made me cry. I am a teacher in grades 6, 7 and 8. I’m exhausted. It’s May. I feel lonely, and this article just summed it all up as to why. No one understands. Thank you for sharing.

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Wow Amanda – you got it so right! You have to be a teacher or related to one to really get it I think.

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Thank you, Kathleen! 🙂

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Even some people related to a teacher still don’t get it, especially spouses. They are not in the classroom with you.

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I don’t know. I’m not sure those even closest to us really understand how utterly demanding this profession is. And I realize it hasn’t always been this way. Enter politicians to screw it all up. But that’s another rant for another day. I’ll admit I was clueless before changing from nursing to teaching. I missed my daughter working nights, weekends and holidays. Now I spend even less quality time with her. And the time I do have with her, I’m only physically present. My mind is racing in a hundred different directions all leading back to my classroom. This is my third year teaching high school sciences. I LOVE my students. They quickly become family to you. And I love my subject area. But I hate everything else about it. The unrealistic expectations placed on teachers and principals should cause outrage in our communities. We’re not allowed to teach as we were taught. We weren’t standardized students. We’re told to differentiate instruction, but test them only in this small box here. Because of the instantaneous nature of social media and television, we’re reduced to entertainers instead of educators. I feel like I should be screaming from the rooftops about how we’re failing our children as a country. But would anyone really hear me? If its not the latest scandal du jour on CNN, I’m afraid not. Ive went off on a tangent here and I apologize. But I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Like I said before, I love my students as my own and I try very hard to do my best for them. But it’s not enough to combat the poverty and social issues thwy go home to at night. THEY are the ONLY reason I remain a teacher. God just will not let me out of this one. So I have to trust He has a reason.

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Yes! Amen. I feel the exact same way.

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wow. I am really blown away by this post. So true and so sad. I bet it felt good to put it all down into words and get it out there. Beautifully written
I tend to listen to the world myself when I am out and about. Not to miss anything, but sometimes i really wish I had earbuds and sometimes I wish I did not hear or saw something.
My mum is a teacher and I am teaching snowboarding during the winter to mostly little kids from 8-12. It is an amazing job but I do want to go to sleep early and going out to a party, no chance, I want to and I need to be fit in the morning.
Thank you for sharing this story.

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Hi Reelika, Oh yes – I was fired up so I began writing about the situation in the notepad of my iPhone as I walked home. I then proceeded to vent about it to my husband and followed up with writing about it here because I find writing to be so therapeutic. I had NO idea so many people would be touched by this post, but clearly it was a message that needed to be shared. I’m thankful you stopped by and left your comment after reading it. 🙂

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Thank you for this. Thank you for saying all of this. I am a 4th grade teacher who teaches under the best of circumstances – beautiful school, lovely class this year, flexible budget, not a lot of testing – and I still suffer from panic attacks, anxiety, sleep issues and overall feelings of defeat because I can never catch up. There simply is not enough of me to go around for my students, my friends, and my family. My own child gets the short end of the stick because I am always working for everyone else’s kids. I could work 24 hours a day and there would still be work left to do and we can’t let those kids or their families down! I love my students and my colleagues deeply, but I’m burning out fast.

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*S* Yes, when my children were small, they celebrated “getting mama back” and cried when it was time for school to start. They hated that I was physically present, but always working for someone else’s kid. They begged me every year to quit. Now it is my husband who hates to see me come home worn out and demoralized each day. If my relationship with my school children was not so good, I don’t know how I’d have the strength to do this job anymore. There was a time I left work and felt like I had won a major battle, but the last several years, I feel like I’ll never win another battle. What I do to myself is far worse than what my admin can. Each student is important to me, but I no longer feel like I actually make a difference for their lives and I kick myself for it. After 20 years, I’m burning out fast.

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One of the things that a lot of people don’t understand about teaching is why teachers are always wiped out. My former husband used to say : “Why are you so tired, you didn’t do anything but sit at a desk and talk all day.”
Teaching is not only an intellectual profession, it is also a very physically active profession, and it is also a people profession. It is a profession that you have to switch gears mentally at any given time, and anticipate questions and be ready to answer those questions. The use of your mental capacity is quite draining, A really good teacher is on her feet most of the time, whether lecturing or using area of proximity for classroom management. She is up and down and walking her class various places. Then there is the neediness of the students, which never goes away. Yes, many careers involve mental work, some involve physical activity and some involve working with people. However, teaching is draining because it involves all three. The mental fatigue continues throughout the evening as you think of one particular kid that you want to reach, or papers to grade. The physical fatigue continues with picking up your own kids, cooking dinner, cleaning etc . The dealing with people is the toughest on the body because it drains every last ounce of energy that you have.

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You are such a talented writer. Very precise and convey emotions so well. Always enjoy reading your stuff.

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Linda, thanks again for the uplifting comment! It means so much to me. XO

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Thank you.

I am a 3rd grade teacher a well, who left school at 6:45 pm today, totaling almost a 12 hour day. Oh, and I teach in NC, a state that notoriously under values educators. But those guys are right, we have do it easy. *snort*

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Oh jeez, Meghan! I’m so sorry you are being overworked and underpaid. Sadly, I’m not surprised and I wish so so badly there was something we could do to change the way things are… In the meantime, please know you are being prayed for by a stranger with a blog 🙂

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This was so well written. I’m a teacher and this hit home. Thank you for sharing.

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I really appreciate the kind words, Abbey! I hope you feel validated and encouraged – teachers really do ROCK. 🙂

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Thank you, from a teacher.

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Cathy, thank YOU for doing what you do everyday to serve our country in one of the most selfless careers. Your servants heart is admirable.

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A huge THANK YOU for the letter , I am 3rd Grade Teacher who has been teaching for 19 years.

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19 years!? HOLY COW, Jennifer! You are my hero. Seriously.

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Amen. Thank you for your honesty, and well written precise examples for those men you overheard. From a former teacher myself, who left for all the same reasons as you for the real world, this truly encapsulates all the feelings I’ve been battling and hits on all of the misconceptions that all of those not in teaching have. Even my own boyfriend had no idea what it meant to be a teacher, until we moved into together and he saw the toll it took in all aspects of my life.

PS. Red line, DC?! That’s where I’m living currently!

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Emily, wow – thanks for reading! It’s blowing me away how many people this post has reached and resonated with. Also, not in DC. The red line in Chicago 😉

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As a current teacher I loved reading this. If only more people understood and appreciated others. Your article made my day on a very rough week.

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Aw, I’m so glad it made your day, Jess! Keep your head up. You are doing amazing things that will have a lasting impact on the world long after you’re gone…that’s really somethin’ special. <3

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Excellently said. I am a Preschool teacher. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve been told, “Oh, you get to play all day.” They wouldn’t last 15 minutes in my class of 18 at-risk students. 18 different lesson plans to match their learning style and level in 7 different domains (language/literacy, math, science, social studies, gross motor, fine motor, self-help), and these little bodies can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes, so we have to move or change ways of learning often. These little guys learn everything from how to hold a spoon to feed themselves and sit at a table for a meal, instead of grazing, to how to write their name, to the difference between a deciduous and evergreen tree.
My day typically starts at 7 a.m. and ends about 9 p.m. Not only do I teach the students, but also, teach the parents or family members. “Yes, Mom, it’s your job to put your child to bed by 8:00. No, he is not old enough to know when to go to sleep. No, you are not her best friend; you’re her parent.” The last thing I do at night is check and answer my email for any from my students’ families.
Oops, time for me to go to bed, after I check my email, so that I can be ready for my little darlings tomorrow.
Teachers are the superheroes of the world!

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MJ, thanks for sharing your personal experience! I TOTALLY get it. Everything you said inevitably made me crack a smile because it’s just SO relatable and true. I hope you know you are appreciated, loved and valued. Don’t stop making an impact on the lives of these children and their families. (Hugs).

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Bravo!!! I come from a family of educators. I know that teaching is as much as vocation as a job. Anyone who says differently has never taught.

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I agree 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Norma! It’s much appreciated.

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Thanks for this wonderful letter, Ms. Carpenter. These are exactly my thoughts. I chuckled at your comment regarding your daily doses of Lexapro which reminded me of a former colleague’s comment on my first year of teaching high school that “Quitting drugs and alcohol is not advisable on your first year of teaching.” 🙂 Therefore, happy pills for me on a daily basis was good sans the alcohol.

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Ha! I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Marie. I had my share of Lexapro AND vino 😉 Everything in moderation, right?! All joking aside, working out (I taught barre classes) every evening really helped maintain my sanity during the hardest school year.

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I, too, had to chuckle (with you, not at you) at the Lexapro comment. I subbed for about 11 years until I finally got burned out. Part of that 11 years was a long term sub was in a classroom for middle-school kids with emotional/social disorders. I was called in for that job when the regular teacher assumed the post of interim principal at mid-year and his aide was moved up to the lead teacher slot and I came in as the aide. One afternoon after class the three of us compared notes on how much Xanax we took daily (I suffered from anxiety attacks before I went into subbing, so…).

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Teachers are the backbone of society. I really believe that the reason why we have regressed in society is because we haven’t treated our teachers correctly. They don’t receive the correct pay, they work countless hours, their benefits aren’t much and many of people that I know were ungrateful for their teachers. Despite all of that, you all mean a lot to many students. Teachers make our society more educated and able to articulate what they believe in more clearly. Thank you for your service to the community at large.

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Kyle, I love how you said that: teachers are the backbone of society! YES. YES. YES. Thank you for your kind words to every teacher who stumbles upon this thread. 🙂

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yup, seriously. I worked AT LEAST 12 hours a day AT SCHOOL, then often came home and worked a few more hours each night. 6:30 am to 6:30 pm in the building, then grab a quick dinner and keep working til 11. Students were in the building 7:20 to 4:10, then there’s all the lesson planning and grading for 120 students, three different courses. There’s the insane pressure of knowing your students don’t graduate if they don’t pass your state test. I made $27,000 to work these 80+ hour weeks. I’ve never done anything harder. Neither nursing, nor a PhD at a top-5 school can compare.

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Kevin, I totally hear ya! You are living out such an incredibly selfless lifestyle by being a teacher in today’s world. I have the utmost respect for you.

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That conversation never ever ever happened and you should be embarrassed you had to make up two strawmen talking as a rhetorical device. I am a title I 7th grade teacher in a bottom paid state and I felt so angered by your lazy click bait writing and I signed in to make a comment to let you know you’ve written something extremely bad. Teaching is a tough profession and your points are mostly true but you don’t get bonus points for this dumb fake story. Stop writing and delete your blog

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Eric,

I considered deleting your comment as it’s false, rude, and unnecessary, but decided that it would be more beneficial to reply instead.

The conversation that I overheard did in fact happen, whether you want to believe it or not. Obviously I didn’t whip out a tape recorder, so it could not possibly be verbatim. The fact that you think this was made up for “rhetorical device” and accused me of “lazy click bait writing” is almost comical. If you honestly think conversations, like the one I overheard, don’t take place, you’re naïve. If you think I’m brilliant enough of a writer to come up with this out of thin air, then I’m flattered and falling short because this is the first post of mine to go “viral” – I don’t write for the purpose of clicks, comments, or shares. I write what happens in my real life. I write to encourage others. I write because it’s therapeutic. I write because I can.

As a former Title I teacher myself, I’m appalled at your lack of respect and the nerve you have to tell someone else to “stop writing and delete your blog.” Hate to break it to ya, but this website is mine and it’s not going anywhere.

Despite my personal frustrations toward you, I know God loves you very much and I’m going to pray for you tonight.

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Very classy response to a very rude person.

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You’re a teacher? That’s really disturbing and the perfect reflection at what’s wrong with the world today, they’re allowed to be lead by people like you- an obviously miserable and angry person only contributing to the hate in this world. So sad..

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That was for Eric (sorry Amanda)

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Eric, you may be a teacher but you are also an asshole. Next time you open your laptop to type something to intentionally irritate someone else, just close the keyboard and do something else.

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Eric, I find it hard to believe that you are really a teacher. I think you are one of those judgemental jerks who think they know everything, everyone else is wrong, and the world revolves around them. That cannot possibly be a teacher! If you actually fell into the teaching profession through some cosmic mistake I pity your poor students.

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All I can say is WOW. You could have just as well made up this story about being a Title I, 7th grade teacher. I would almost be willing to bet money that your story is fake, because even those who think teachers are part of some “fake” world, are underworked and overpaid seem to conduct themselves with more class than what this post cam across with.

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Totally understand your point my mother was a teacher, however, these guys probably have long hours too. I work in advertising and my days start around 8am and end around 7pm plus most weekends. It is exhausting and I admit I get super jealous of my friend who is a teacher. Even with that schedule I am considered to be the lucky one in my friend group (most work 80+ hrs a week).

Most people who work full time are stressed and overworked! Welcome to America. At least teachers get the Summer off?! I am not saying it isn’t a hard job but there certainly are other jobs (doctor resident) that carry just as much stress and responsibility and way more hours.

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Ellie, while I agree with you that lots of people (including those guys) probably work long hours too, I have to ask one question.

Why should someone in the corporate world/or a doctor/or an engineer make triple (most often quadruple even!) what a teacher makes if they’re BOTH working these tiresome and stressful hours?

Also, times have changed and (most) teachers (depending on the state, school district, etc.) don’t get summers off anymore. Unless you count a few weeks “off” in which you’re expected to attend conferences, clean and redecorate your classroom, prepare lesson plans, etc. – I’m not saying that ALL of teaching is hard and bad. It’s just that people like myself, who went into the career for all of the right reasons, are now leaving because things have gotten so messed up.

I wish we, as a country, placed higher value on teaching so that at the very least it would be acknowledged and respected that they are raising our future leaders, teachers, doctors, and engineers.

Just sharing my thoughts in response to yours; not at all trying to negate that you work long hours in advertising or have your own share of responsibilities and stressors. 🙂

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food for thought: http://news.doximity.com/entries/4762485

teachers make less because the education level required to teach is lower than it is to perform surgery. because teachers log far fewer hours in unpaid training. because public school teachers receive pensions and as public servants, are eligible for student loan forgiveness long before most.

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Your food for thought article was interesting but predicated on the idea of teachers working only 40 hours a week LOL!!!!

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We are only eligible for $5000 of loan foregiveness after 5 years of teaching in a title 1 school. I have over $60,000 in student loans so $5000 is a drop in the bucket.

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Food for thought. The education level required to drive a 18-wheeler is less than what is required to be a teacher, yet truck drivers make more money than many teachers do. The education level required to be a computer programmer is about the same as a teacher, minimum of 4 years of college, with internships. Guess who makes more money.

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On your list you need to add teachers! They are “raising our future leaders, doctors, engineers and teachers.” By leaving teachers off this list, you are giving more respect to the other professions. Then you wonder why the world does it.

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Good point, Janet! I edited my comment.

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Manda, I was transfixed with your story….My older daughter is the principal’s secretary at a high school…my granddaughter, HER daughter is a teacher…I have one other granddaughter who is a teacher. Those men have NO clue—-anxiety among teachers and administrators is rampant. If everyone only knew the dedication teachers, educators have; they’re certainly not in that profession for the money. I’m so glad you gave your opinion publicly about the conversation you overheard. Thank You!

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Ah! There it is! I was expecting to see it. The “But! Teachers have the WHOLE summer off!” comment. Yes, some teachers are able to lounge at the pool, or *gasp* take a vacation with their family! There are MANY teachers who will spend countless hours during the summer in the school building writing next year’s curriculum. Others will be forced to take a job over the summer.

And, who do you think runs the summer camps you shuttle your kids off to (because it’s day three of summer break and already you’re sick of your kids)? Often it is teachers who run the camps, or are doing the behind-the-scenes work…because they have the summer OFF, and can do that sort of thing, remember?

There are many teachers who value the summer ‘off” because they can actually spend meaningful time with their own kids. The rest of the year they are physically and mentally exhausted. And yes, I know there are plenty of other professionals who experience the same – but this article pertains to teachers.

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Ellie, that schtick gets really old to someone who teaches; you should understand a couple of very important things. First, most teachers (as mentioned by others) do NOT in fact have the summer “off,” for a variety of reasons and because of a wide range of requirements of them. This is true even if there are no students in their classrooms, and even if they are essentially volunteers at those tasks. That brings me to the other thing you need to realize: those who do “have the summer off”? It’s only if they can afford to go without being paid during that time. I, for one, cannot. So I teach classes in the summer and take on other jobs… to be able to pay my bills, because I am “so well compensated” during the academic year. I have applied my advanced-degree education working in the mining industry, in research, in management; now I teach. And I have never had another job that demands more of me, that takes more of my time, a job that never stays at the office when I do finally go home, nor a job that affords me so little respect. But I do it for my students, who bring me joy and make me feel that this pursuit is worthwhile.

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So then why teach if it’s that stressful and unrewarding? Why do anything that doesn’t make you happy? No job is perfect. It’s why it’s so important to love what you do, right?

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Please — starting with my mother was a teacher, but….. sounds like you are just about to justify your ignorance. Unless you have actually been a teacher, please learn from us.

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There are so many points to this article and Ellie’s comment that are so valid. My fiance is a band director (take a regular teacher and add 2 after school rehearsals, Friday night football games, Saturday competitions, parades, and concerts, district competitions, conferences, summer camps, etc.) and I work as a fundraiser for a private University. The typical perception of teachers that you referenced with the overheard conversation is so common, but everything Ellie said was relevant to how I feel about this “circle jerk” mentality about how hard it is to be a teacher and how exhausting it is to hear how easy everyone else thinks it is. Yes, teachers clock well over 40 hours a week, and no, teachers don’t just “get the whole summer off”, but in most full-time positions, you are clocking over 40 hours and the average vacation allowance is two weeks. Getting time off for Thanksgiving or December isn’t a thing in most industries and I envy my fiance’s ability to have that time free to travel to be with our families for the holidays. In response to this treadmill metaphor, I will say, I often tell my fiance how proud I am of his ability to “be on” the entire time he is at work when there are typically periods of downtime in a traditional office job, but that is not to say that people in office jobs aren’t juggling many projects at the same time. Being the only non-teacher in a group of teacher friends, it can be a bit infuriating to know they resent me because they think my job isn’t as hard as theirs while I’m forced to constantly tell them how difficult their job is. Know that there are people who understand how difficult your work is, but that does not devalue the idea that other industries are just as difficult and just as underpaid.

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Erin
It is fine and understandable your are sick of having to make your teacher friends feel better. I doubt they think your job is easy. As a teacher I appreciate the work my friends and family do and in no way think they’ve got it easy. I think most teachers anger comes from societies views on teachers as a whole who have historically been told the job is as easy as babysitting. You would have to be blind to not see how teachers have been basically vilified the last decade. Society complains we have crazy good benefits but they aren’t and cost us a fortune line everyone else. Also, that are pensions are a golden parachute, when in reality they are fairly terrible unless you put in 30 years and never leave the state that you taught in. We are constantly blamed for societies problems and never doing enough. Teachers have a right to be pissed off, I’ve heard countless times ” I spent 8 years in school learning , I could be a teacher.” America is a country that loves to pretend they support and care about education but they don’t.

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If your mother was a teacher, then you should understand she did not really have the “summers off” like it was a planned vacation. It is like the off season for pro athletes. Your services are not contractually needed nor are you contractually obligated to work during that time. So technically, it we have summer “unemployment” Yes, every job has its level of stress in different ways. Yes, being a doctor can be stressful, but it is not the same stress experienced by a teacher. The only jobs I believe may require more hours and be more stressful than teaching would be the police or the military. And by the way, many of my co-workers were once part of that latter profession before they became teachers.

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I completely agree with you. I am a new teacher this school year. And it is the hardest job I will ever do and what gets me through the day are my amazing students. I’m a special education teacher and I get to work at 7:30 and don’t leave until 6 and I go home and work more. And on the weekends. We do it because we love it. We aren’t in it for the money, if we were, we would be in the “real world” right?

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Amen. I hear you, Rach. I wasn’t in it for the money when I chose to become a teacher, obviously. 🙂 I was aware of how things are, but decided to go in with a smile on my face and give it my best shot. After killing myself for several consecutive school years, I got fed up and decided that I would continue to love on and work with kids in a new way. I am now a volunteer and am much happier coming in weekly to assist a teacher and help in anyway that I possibly can. Perhaps I chose the wrong school district or maybe it was bad luck…I know not every teacher has hard years, long hours, tough parents, and difficult students. I was just done allowing my hard work to be depreciated. This post is ultimately a simple, informative response to the conversation I overheard and the fight left within me to advocate for teachers. I really hope your first year of teaching goes well! My mom taught special education for many years, so I know how strenuous that can be. I have mad respect for you. Thanks for making a difference and changing a child’s life!

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As a teacher this hit home on so many levels. This is how I feel when I talk to people about teaching. They think I have it so easy but those people get to leave work at work. My work follows me from the classroom to my home.

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I know what you mean, Alyssa. It takes a very special person. It was hard for me to leave teaching, but also extremely humbling. I’m thankful for people like you who are able to persevere and do a thankless job well. 🙂

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THANK YOU!!!!

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Thank you. Just…thank you. As the child of parents who are both in education, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for people like you, people who sympathize and stand up for teachers. Growing up, somehow my parents made sure that at least one was home by 5 to pick us up from our Nana’s house. They made sure we had homemade meals together, took time to help us with homework, made sure we knew how much we were, and still are, loved, tucked us in every night, and then stayed up to grade papers and work on IEP’s. On top of that, they had to deal with a child with some very extreme health issues, that would be me, and they never once made me feel like they couldn’t handle it. They are my heroes.

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Great blog, Manda. So true. As a middle school teacher who has been in classrooms for 20 years now, I have to respond to a thread that I’ve noticed in the comments: My dear young teachers — don’t work so many hours!! We don’t want you to burn out and leave the profession. We want you to stay. It’s not sustainable to work 12 hour days at school and then more at home. Self-care is vital. And your own family needs you, too — or they will someday. This is a job that never ends. You will never catch up. You will never feel like you’ve done everything that you could, that you should. So after those first couple of marathon years, step back and make sure that you don’t get sucked into the role of the martyr-teacher. Reject it. Try to limit yourself to a couple of hours of extra work most days (and there are going to be times when you have to do more, I get it.) Remember — the more extra work we do without extra compensation, the more we’ll be expected to do. Collaborate with your colleagues and share the load. You’re not doing yourself or your students any favors by running yourself ragged. If you’re in it for the long run, pace yourself. You’ll still be too tired to go out on a Wednesday night, but you’ll impact a lot more lives.

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I’m in my 23rd year of teaching middle school science and I love it! Your thoughts and writing are spot-on. What concerns me is that our country is heading into a teacher shortage, for all the reasons you mentioned. In some areas it is already starting to be of crisis proportions, and that is more likely to spread rather than diminish. We need a cultural shift in how we perceive service jobs. Thanks for doing your part in helping to shift our thinking.

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Oh Give me a break. Okay yeah, just two guys having small talk about their teacher friend but I feel like their rhetoric was way different than the monsters she made them out to be. What I translated that out to be was a sort of private eulogy for a friend who has too busy of a lifestyle to ‘turn up’. They aren’t really bashing teaching as a job but instead expressing their emotions in the form of anger as a way of mourning for their teacher-friends sex/social life. Actually when I read the transcript of what was said, I felt concern for that teachers social life. Poor fellow, I hope those two friends recover from their loss.

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Really, buddy, get over it. Even though the author already explained that this article is based off an actual conversation, it is not verbatim. The point is that the conversation was enough to get her thinking about the obstacles that teachers face in the workplace – obstacles that many (most) outside the profession do not recognize. Even within my own school, I sometimes feel like non-teaching staff don’t quite appreciate the amount of work that teachers need to put in to run a successful classroom. They may relate to some of the other issues that teachers contend with, such a respect issues, low pay, decisions being implemented by state bureaucrats…but not the amount of work, planning or energy it takes to make a classroom run smoothly. THAT is the essence of this well-written and articulate article and if the overheard conversation was the catalyst to the author, so be it. Who are we to knock her muse?

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Thank you, Kristin.

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Great read. Teachers in NYC truly have one of the toughest jobs imaginable.

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Boy did you nail it! I retired in 2012 after 37 years of teaching, and must say you said it well. What is most different now than when I started is the pressure on the teacher to be accommodating when lawmakers without teaching credentials decide what and how we should teach without regard to differences in learning styles and physical ability. And the lack of respect for what teachers do.

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Thank you for stating, with simplicity and honestly, what so many others fail to understand! And btw, your writing has obviously made a number of your former teachers PROUD of how you turned out!

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I have many teacher friends in the NJ/PA area, and planning on sharing this post with them. Thank you for eloquently and expertly describing the challenges teachers face daily in their mission to educate and inspire young minds. Though not a teacher by trade (I’m a reporter), it was because of my high school journalism teacher that I’m on the career path I ultimately chose. The value of a teacher to impact a student’s life for the better cannot be understated. Furthermore, about 5 1/2 years ago, my former teacher extended me the opportunity to act as a guest speaker in her advanced journalism class, for one class period. Without exaggeration, it was the most difficult 45 minutes of my career and my already-healthy respect for teachers was increased a thousandfold.

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Great article. As the daughter of a schoolteacher, I saw how my father worked around the clock on his lesson plans, preparing homework sheets, labs and exams, correcting and grading student homework, labs, quizzes, exams, and so forth. He would get up at 5:00 a.m. each morning and did not arrive home until 6:00 p.m. Then after dinner he would work at his desk (conveniently located in his basement workshop, next to all of his tools) until at least 11:00 p.m. or later. Dealing with student disciplinary matters and unresponsive parents was another large part of his (mostly) thankless job as a teacher.

Growing up, I recall the lack of respect my father felt, his frustrations, the teachers union strikes, and the feeling of instability/stress that went along with that. My family lived on a shoestring – I am still amazed at how my mother managed it all. My father had a good retirement due to the teachers union (and a military pension and Social Security benefits), but now we live in times of union-busting and the probability that the Social Security system will go broke …

I wanted to be a teacher, but I kept remembering how it was for my father and I decided against it. I work in the corporate world now. I get compliments on the training materials I prepare, and there have been times where I’ve been the only person to go out of my way to show someone how to perform specific tasks that are essential to doing the job. So the teacher genes live on!

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I’m a special ed teacher and this honestly brought me to tears. Thanks for sharing this. It means a lot!!

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I’m guessing that these guys assume that their friends job ends for the day when he leaves the classroom just like their job ends for the day when they leave the office.

I was a teacher in a trade-school/junior college. I loved my students and I loved my work. I was in seventh heaven when I fell in love with a partner who loved and respected my dedication as a teacher. Until we started living together. Then she began to resent every moment I spent tutoring or working on curriculum or grading papers. She constantly accused me of having affairs with students. Yet despite working more hours than she did, she had the nerve to tell our friends I only worked part time because classroom hours were only 30 hours a week. The final straw came when I mentioned that I had not had a raise or vacation in three years and that it was wearying to teach students who then went out and earned more money in their first year in tech then I made after five years of teaching. She looked at me and sarcastically responded “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

I left soon after that.

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I may get some back lash for this one but I can’t hold it in any longer….

Teachers seem to think that b/c they take work home with them and they have “distractions” all day long and that they have to “work” over the summer….Clearly they have never been a secretary. I pretty sure that my measly $11/hr is way less than what teachers make in an hour. AND I ALWAYS have to work the holidays, weekends, and summers. AND guess what, I don’t get insurance and OH WAIT I have to leave my hourly job and LOOSE PAY to come to an International Day at school to see my child’s flag that I stayed up all night painting with her. Which by the way, I paid for the supplies and the case of kleenex that you needed at school, and oh wait the backpack, shoes, pants, school colored socks, T-shirt for the class outing, yearbook…

Let’s talk about the “bad” kids that are so disruptive in class b/c most of them are in the office where the secretary is dealing with all of the disruptive kids that were sent from multiple teachers. Good thing the secretary has a degree in child behavior and student loans to go with it. Did I mention that she also pays for UNION dues and has her hours cut by 15 minutes a day to save the school some money!

So, I’m sorry to all of the teachers that I might offend with this but you really don’t work any harder or longer hours or have any worse issues than all the rest of us. So please enjoy your part time summer jobs and have fun with your Christmas shopping while the cashier (one of your student’s mother) checks you out at 9:00pm on Christmas Eve.

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Thank goodness you pointed this out. I’m assuming, that like me, you have taught in a school system as well as worked in a non-educational job. You have explained the difference so well.

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Suzy, I understand your frustration with your job. Our school secretaries keep everything together, and we couldn’t do our jobs without them. However, this conversation is comparing jobs with comparable education levels. Ideally, everyone has the opportunity to get an education that increases their earning potential. I worked two of those less-than-minimum wage jobs while I was getting my teaching certificate (as a single mom, so I can empathize with my students’ parents). No one is saying that minimum-wage job workers have it easy. But when comparing teaching to other careers with similar educational requirements, there’s a huge disparity in respect and compensation.

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Suzy, the essential problem with your point boils down to this: “I am stepping in 3 feet of shit. Look at this person, how DARE they complain about their situation. They are only stepping in 1 foot of shit.”

I have no doubt things are harder for you than for most teachers. But, that doesn’t mean that teaching is some kind of over-privileged, over paid, over appreciated profession. It means that your profession is even more egregiously under-privileged, under paid, and under appreciated than teaching. There is a difference, and frankly, it is quite a big one. Might I suggest you place your outrage towards those who are plundering the system, rather than those who are getting a little less screwed by it than you?

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I don’t see the reason to be so angry. I think she was simply making the case that many people misunderstand the workload of teachers and often incorrectly think they have it very easy. Now in many profession it may not matter that much, but since this is often a public position, it means that if people don’t understand what teacher do, they are not sensitive to political call for salary raises or things like that.

I don’t think she was making the case that teacher was the MOST difficult job, simply that it is on par with most others and “part of the real world”.

As for your job, I don’t think she was implying anything. I am sure she is aware of your difficulties and challenges and the fact that your are underpaid.

In fact, I would suggest that you may be in the same team here. Both of your professions were historically professions considered to be for women. And since women were not expected to be the breadwinner in that sexist and la-la land male-centered conception of the world, they did not need to be paid much. And if you look around, you can see that this applies to most profession traditionally reserved for women. So I think you should team up with Amanda and protest these clear injustices, and remnants of father knows best time. It will surely help more than to attack each other. I think salary raises for teacher and minimum wage raise to 15$/hour can work well together.

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I couldn’t agree with this more. Growing up I had various family members who were teachers straight through until retirement. I then watched my sister go through college to earn her teaching degree and a degree in special education. She, at first could not secure a teaching job in a school, but was hires by the state as a “teacher” to special needs adults. She is now an elementary school teacher in another state she moved to for her husbands job and I could not be more proud and happy for her. The reason I put teacher in quotes like that initially is because with that job, teaching was only one of many expectations. Each person there was assigned a group of adults, and anyone who has worked with any age special needs knows that one on one is difficult, so imagine being in charge of 3-5 adults for 9+ hours a day. These adults lived at the facility because they were unable to be cared for properly by their families at home and get the appropriate attention and help needed. So not oy was she a teacher, she was a parent, a friend, a provider, sometimes had to help medically, a life guide, you name it. She and the other person who took over during the hours they were not asleep, they were all these people knew as the people who cares for them. Of course family came to visit. I don’t want to give the wrong impression that these were people abandoned there. Not at all, it was a very family friendly very nice facility, but these were very disabled people, both mentally and physically and so the routine of knowing my sister’s face was an important part of the relationship she had to develop with them. She had to know how to react in the even of a medical emergency, which could have been one of multiple things at any given time depending on the individual, anything from a seizure, to choking, to a fall. She had to take safe self defense in the event that one of them were to get angry and lash out, they can show tremendous strength and you could not reason with them and make them understand they were hurting you, to them it was simply a way of showing their frustration and they did not know any better. She had to deal with things like bathroom accidents, fits of rage, “fits” of joy, wandering off, keeping their attention, giving them each the attention they required all at the same time. She took them on field trips and not only then had to deal with her students but had to contend with the general public and their reaction to groups like these. Imagine being the person who is feeding someone everyone is looking at in disgust because perhaps that person is dropping food out of hia mouth everytime he takes a bite. Oh and did I mention she also had to TEACH them. She had to spend her days not only taking care of them but depending on the level of disability she had to teach them things ranging from recognizing colors and shapes, much like a toddler, all the way to simple math, and simple social skills, like an elementary student. Each member of the group had a different capacity to learn and it was up to her to figure that out and go from there. There was no guide saying who could learn what and at what level. She had to figure out how to keep them each occupied as she was doing her teaching with them individually and then activities that would be all inclusive. As you can see the list goea on and on, much like what you said, I anticipated thia being a short look into her day, but as it turns out there was nothing about her day that was short, nothing about it that was easy. When people would ask her “what do you do?” She would simply say “I teach special needs adults” and they would talk about how lucky she was to work for the state or to be part of a union or some other such nonsense. Having no idea that some days would start at 7 and end at 9pm and she would come home just in time to say goodnight to her 6 and 1 yr old, and kiss her husband goodbye as he left for his 3rd shift job. I am so proud of the work she did there and I wish more people knew what it’s like to be a teacher or any kind. As I mentioned she now teaches elementary students, and when we chat about it, she tells me that, while it is, of course, drastically different, it is equally as stressful and difficult in its own way. But it is also equally as rewarding and that’s what makes it worth every minute.

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To even compare the amount of work an elementary school teacher does to the amount a person on Wall Street does is so ignorant. Teachers recycle lessons, get summers off, get breaks off, and get generous pensions. All jobs are paid what they’re worth. And society has determined that those men’s jobs are more important and difficult than a 3rd grade teacher. And the “lexapro” point wasn’t a very good argument for how hard teachers work lol.

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Well, it’s good that we have people like you who have obviously been both a teacher and worked in the “real” world who can bridge that gap and explain it to us all.

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“All jobs are paid what they’re worth” is the most ignorant thing you could have possibly said, especially in regards to teaching. I would like to show you a world where teachers actually recycled most of their lessons and truly spent the summers off because maybe then you would realize the importance of a teacher’s job. If teachers’ jobs were as simple as you think, students would not learn. Have you ever considered that no person would ever get to the professions you think are “worth” more money if it were not for their teachers? The fact that you think society considers a person on Wall Street’s job more important than a teacher’s is appalling. Where would society be without education and those who provide it? You are ignorant and insensitive. Teachers are professionals and they are not treated that way (just look at their salaries compared to other professionals). The anxiety that teaching induces warrants the” lexapro point” as valid. There are few other jobs that induce as much anxiety and give so little in return. I would like to see you try to teach for a week.

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Britt, you’re completely missing the point about “worth.” Wall Street pays workers more because these workers create revenue for their companies and lots of it. Teachers, while a respectable and noble profession, create value in other ways. However, they are paid via a vis taxpayers dollars. They don’t actually make their teaching districts or states any money. But keep something in mind as you think teachers are all underpaid. They get a full pension and kickass health benefits for their families throughout their careers and during retiremenr. This is something that is rare, if not unheard of these days in the private sector.

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Nova02,

I would just like to point out that in the state I teach in, we do not get “kick ass” benefits. It was just 9 years ago that teachers were even offered any sort of health insurance benefits. On average for a teacher to insure themselves and family, the cost runs over $800 a month.

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Jenny,

Saying that teachers get summers off and breaks off makes it sound like we get paid vacation. We never, ever get paid vacation. I would actually prefer to work year-round and take a week off here and there than have my time off mandated (as to when it happens) and unpaid. My husband and I want to take a vacation to Florida to see my grandparents, who own a home there that they rent out during the summer. We’ll never be able to do it, because the 10 months they spend in Florida has always come to an end by the time school ends. We have many friends who decide to take vacations in the fall or spring, according to when the weather at their destination might be ideal or the flights might be cheapest, but we can’t do that (plus I don’t get paid enough for it anyway lol). I want to go to a convention in August that all my friends are taking off from work to attend, but I won’t be able to go because it’s during the first week of school. There are definite benefits to being out of work during Christmas and over the summer – I know most people in the public sector wouldn’t be approved for an entire week off during the holidays, which is desirable in my opinion. So I’m not saying that either situation is ideal, but the thing to realize is that teachers are simply out of a job during school holidays, whether they like it or not. “Time out,” not time off.

We have very low salaries, even when you compare the amount we make in 10 months to the amount that others with comparable levels of education and experience make in 10 months (rather than 12). Plus, we are putting 12-months worth of work into those 10 months, and work over the summer too. Many of my friends in the private sector work 12 hour days and are exhausted at the end of the day, but many of them also receive additional compensation for overtime. If one of them volunteers to go in on their day off, they are paid for it and can take a different day off instead. A relative of mine recently volunteered to represent her company at a fundraising event on a Saturday. She was paid for it and then took Monday off. If a teacher volunteers to represent her school at a fundraiser on a Saturday, she’s probably not getting paid and she’s definitely not allowed to just take Monday off! The thing is, the same relative of mine also makes jealous remarks about my summer vacation. I don’t go around making rude comments to my friends about their “inordainte pay” or “luxurious corporate dinners” or “paid time off.” I accept that I chose my profession with all its rewards and drawbacks, and I stick with it because I love what I do. I’m not trying to criticize other professions, which despite having some perks that teaching doesn’t have, are often grueling, soul-sucking, and thankless. High pay, the occasional meal with a client, etc – these things come with the job and that’s perfectly fine by me. I’m just tired of hearing people say that, as a rule, teachers are somehow compensated fairly becuase of “summers off,” or worse yet saying it with a twinge of scorn. as though we’re spending the summer rolling around in vats of taxpayer bills and adorning ourselves in goverment-subsidized blood diamonds.

To address your other points:

Even if teachers did recycle their lessons, they would still have plenty to do outisde of school with grading papers, calling parents, updating grades, updating agendas due to fluctuations in the schedule, etc. All of these additional tasks have to be completed outside of the regular school day. To assume a teacher only works while teaching is like assuming that an actor only works while performing, or a doctor only works while seeing patients. That is just the main event! What about the countless hours of practice for the one, and paperwork for the other? Plus, while some amount of lesson-recycling might allow the lesson to be fine-tuned and save the last thread of a teacher’s sanity, it’s basically impossible to recycle everything. Teachers are reassigned to new courses. State mandates are introduced. Districts impose new programs. Students change. Students who were reading college level texts are replaced, in the same course, by students who can’t read basic sight words, and vice versa.

Pensions are no longer as strong as they once were. Many state goverments are either broke or have reduced funding to education. I don’t even think I’m going to get a pension at all because it’s a well known fact that the state I’m in has no way to fund the pensions. That means I also don’t get social security (as I “have a pension”), and I don’t get a 401K. Even if my state did fund my pension, I’d have to be vested into the pension system for 10 years before receiving the pension benefit, so if I wanted to move out of state and continue teaching, I’d lose the benefit. In that sense, it’s even worse than social security, because at least with social security there’s a hope of an imaginary benefit after an out-of-state move. I’d much rather have a 401K. I also have lousy medical and dental benefits. I can’t add a family member onto my plan, or it would cost me something like half my salary. I decided to wait 7 months to have a cavity filled, because that’s when my small dental benefit will renew, etc etc. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but education definitely isn’t the same as it was fifty years ago. Pensions and benefits aren’t as strong, across the board, so you can’t point to them as the justification for inadequate pay.

Finally, to respond to your comment that “all jobs are paid what they’re worth,” I contend that Kim Kardashian is case-in-point.

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I am a middle school counselor, and my husband is an attorney. He is always shocked by the amount of hours I work, and the complexity of the work that I do. He makes double what I make, but I often work longer hours or have more time commitments. He does fancy client lunches at Mastros, while I scarf down a pb&j in four minutes in between kids/parents/staff who need me. I could go into private practice and make more $ for less time commitment, but these kids need me. I love my work and wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had numerous jobs, including working for the federal prison system. The only way to stop the school to prison pipeline is to get to these kids before the mistakes are made. Prevention is critical to our society, and it starts in the schools. Thanks for your post, and to all the educators out there hustling to make a difference. And, a special thank you to the Brokers, Engineers, Doctors, and Attorneys who marry us crazy people to help us keep doing what we’re doing, Behind every successful educator is a rock solid support system. Thank you to my husband, who makes me that pb&j I scarf down each day. 🙂

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Rachel, thank you SO much for your comment. You are WONDERFUL for sticking with it through the lows! You are changing the world and preventing so many from ending up in jail. Those are the points I didn’t make within this post that I’ve shared with numerous people before: behind every successful educator is a rock solid support system. A-MEN! Bless you and your husband 🙂

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As a 6th year first grade teacher who constantly wonders if it would be easier and less heartbreaking on the other side (out in the “real world”), thank you for your words. It would be nice to be financially compensated a little (okay, a LOT) more, but what would be even better is if the non-teachers out there would listen to your words & recognize the truly hard work we educators do put in!

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Thank you from a mom and granddiva to 3 to all teachers! Very well written!!!

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Yes! A hundred times YES! I’ve been a HS English teacher for 26 years and it is truly a all consuming job. Sure, classes are from 7:40 to 3:00, but I work many more hours than that. Most people simply have no idea what it’s like. I’d like to invite them to try it for a day, but I don’t think many people would last past lunch time. I’d especially like to invite the politicians who dictate how/what we teach. Come on in. Try it for a while.

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I worked thirteen years in the “real world,” then left the corporate comfort to teach – first three years in middle school, and I’m in my tenth year in high school. Having done BOTH, I can honestly say that teaching takes MUCH, MUCH more out of me than my two corporate jobs ever did. Unless you’ve done it, you can’t really understand why teachers NEED the summers off. Each year, my kids get more and more belligerent, lazy, and hard to handle (I teach in a low socio-economic area). Trying to get them to learn ANYTHING is a constant battle because all they want to do is play on their phones, talk to their friends, and/or sleep. They don’t understand why learning how to read for understanding and how to write to be clearly understood is valuable. They’re all going to be internet millionaires or sports stars, you know.

Thank you for a lovely blog post that really hits the nail on the head, whether people want to believe it or not. Without education, no other jobs are possible, yet teachers get the least respect. It’s quite sad, really.

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Let’s face it. They wouldn’t be wearing their expensive suits, partying whenever they want, and buying a Role watch had it not been for the dedication of the teachers they encountered. Grow up, little boys!

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I worked for many years in the private sector with coworkers who thought they were busy. They have no idea. I work twice as hard as a middle school language arts teacher, but I’m three times as happy. Quite often, when I tell people what I do, they respond, “Oh, I could never do that.” Well, if they don’t feel they can do what I do, then they shouldn’t critique my summer off (mostly devoted to long-term planning, reading professional pieces, working with curriculum committees, and catching up with the family I don’t spend enough time with during the school year). I hope the guys (dudes) enjoyed their beers!

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Ok this was beautifully written but I am probably going to ruffle someone’s feathers..Well where I totally agree with every point you made I also have to point out that this is a choice. A choice to teach I’m tired of people acting like martyrs for their career choices. You get paid within your scope and if this is a problem then leave and find something else. Your job is no less or more stressful than anyone else’s. Being a teacher Does not make you saint. I’m in medical research. I work long hours. I go home, I take care of my children, then continue your lessons once at home then, and once they finally head off to bed I am up working on data until the wee hours…why? To help find that break through for the medication you may one day take…to find the answer to the reason you are ill…I use my own money sometimes to supply much needed material that the government won’t pay for…I work days, nights, and holidays..I do not get a break. All without raises, proper funding, compensation, time off…yes I get that education is important and teachers are on the forefront preparing young minds for what lies ahead but please enough with the poor me. I barely get time off. Let alone 2 months in the summer pulse another 30ish days during the school calendar year. Love what you do. Keep going. You are as important as everyone else but keep in mind We all have the same struggle no matter what our occupation is.

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I am not a teacher, though several people have told me I’d be a good one. The reason is simple. I KNOW I lack the sustained energy to be ON all the time in front of a class week in and week out. And I consider teaching one of the truly vital jobs in our world, so I’m not about to fail a group of kids because I need a break now and again. (And, I’d bet 95% of people with jobs take mental breaks every day at their jobs.) So, I work in the kid’s section of a library, where I do get breaks, but can still be a positive influence on kids. But, I know it’s a much easier job than teaching.

In truth, though, I think we’d ‘cure’ a lot of people’s ignorance about how challenging and tiring the position is by asking them to come teach a class for a week. All those ‘reformers’ who have never taught? Ask them to run a 6th grade classroom with ALL the extra things a teacher must do. I doubt most of them would last a day, let alone a week.

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Absolutely brilliant! Loved reading this, thankyou so much for sharing. I know people re-training to become teachers because we supposedly have it so easy. Then laugh at the whinging first school term in.
Your article rings true for all teachers across the world.

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not a teacher (but I have friends that are!) And goodness do I love this!

xo, Maddy
http://cassidylou.com/

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Thank you! As a visual art teacher, I also have the task of legitimizing my subject area as one with actual academic merit, rigor, with objective skills, concepts, and goals. We don’t make hand turkeys! We teach aesthetic philosophy, critical thinking, debate, art history, art in the context of time,place, and bias, and the progressive ideas moving the contemporary art world now… oh, and all the skills and techniques needed to render and express all those ideas in only 45 minutes a week 😉

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Thank you! I am a teacher. I live in a modest home and own a Fossil watch and am home every night, but cannot help but think those guys are missing out. I may not make a lot of money, but I am making a difference and you cannot put a monetary value on that. I hold out hope that, in some small way, I might play a part in curing cancer, feeding the world and stopping war by helping to produce people who will change their world for good!

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Amen, sister! I taught school for 16 long, exhausting years. Now I have a job where I actually get to sit down during the day! (What????) And, I can go to the restroom more than once a day if I need to, without worrying that a class of 35+ students will erupt into chaos without me. I don’t have to work 10+ hour days and then go home to have more work to do. I don’t have to be on recess duty every day, or have multiple meetings after school every week. I am free at last, free at last! Speaking as a former teacher, I can truthfully say that teaching IS the hardest job in the world. God bless all of the teachers in our nation for their sacrifices and their patience.

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Honestly, you never truly appreciate teachers and what they do unless you become one or you are brought to light by articles like this. Kids don’t think about that. We go to school and, more than likely, we don’t want to. We have bad attitudes, get loud, obnoxious, and all want our teacher’s attention, never truly understanding how hard it is for them. I’ve had wonderful teachers that made the school day fun and I never once thought at what expense they had to make in order for that fun day to happen. I’ve had teachers I didn’t like so much, but never thought that maybe it was because they felt unloved and undervalued.

I have huge respect for anyone going into teaching. We don’t value education as much as we should. And the only reason why is for people to go to college so they can pay and go into debt to get a degree they may never use.

This was an insightful read. I’ve always respected teachers, but now I respect them even more so. I hope those guys get a dose of reality and understand that it’s not an easy job. What job is really?

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Thank you for writing this! I have been working for a cyber charter school for 11 years and am a high school special education teacher. Our school has 7,000 kids that attend it all over the state and out of those 7,000, 3,300 are special education kids. I teach from home which is a benefit in that I get to see my kid get on and off the bus each day, but I work from 6am until sometimes 9pm and almost every weekend. Because we are a cyber charter school we get 75% to educate a child compared to the 100% a brick and mortar school gets. I make 15-20,000 less as well. We are a Title 1 school that has 73% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunches. Our school is sometimes a student’s last option before dropping out completely or prison. We work so hard to reach them and build relation ships with them and try to get them to see the bigger picture that life if beyond high school. I am grateful for our time off but know that we have been working very long hours and our computer is always right here so it is easy to sit back down and get more work done. I teach 3 sections a day to all special education students, please have a roster of IEPs to write and hold each year. I know every job has it stress, but I am grateful for your post! 🙂

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First of all, thanks for the great article! So many people are ignorant of what teachers do. And going through the comments it sounds like there are also non-teachers who feel overworked and underpaid. I asked myself, if teachers’ jobs suck so much, and there are better jobs out there, why is anyone a teacher? I get it — the kids are wonderful. I love kids too. What’s not wonderful is the system. So why put up with it? Go work at a Sudbury school. I’m serious. Ditch the grading, the testing, the standards, the lesson plans, the 20 pairs of scissors per classroom (yikes!). Sudbury staff get all the pluses of working with kids and none of the negatives of the garbage school system. And Sudbury students are happier and more successful than anyone else. I’m happy to talk more about this with anyone.

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Thank you from a teacher.

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Worlds of yes. This sadly needs to be said over and over again, and it still won’t make the difference it should.
My father was a teacher. Several of my friends are teachers. I teach, informally, and hope to do more all the time. Without teachers NONE of us would be what we are. Please keep up the good work.

(However, I do have to comment – in the closing, isn’t the plural of a person “Joshes” and not “Josh’s”?)

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Yes! Great article, but the fact that there is a grammatical error at the end bothers me! Especially since she’s a teacher! I really do love this article. Teachers have one of the toughest jobs out there!

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Thanks, I did update the blog to correct the grammatical error. 🙂

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I’m not usually a grammar nazi, but you are a teacher and it’s pretty glaring. In the last sentence you wrote: “an advocate for all Josh’s in this world.” An apostrophe should not be used to pluralize.

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If that’s all you got from this article then you completely missed the point.

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Really Stepehn? Another misconception that teachers are perfect.I teach math and students may catch a mistake here and there. I am human too!

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Stephen,

I was a teacher, but am not anymore. Even if I were a teacher still, I’m an imperfect person and the grammatical error was pointed out and corrected within the post. Thanks!

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This is great. I teach college and have huge respect for folks who teach high school and elementary and middle school. I also want to let you know that your font on the blog is really small and hard to read, and the font as I am typing this comment is miniscule and as an English teacher I can only pray that I’m spelling everything right because I am having a hard time reading it myself.

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Thank you for your well-worded validation of what teachers do each and every day! There are very eloquent and informative replies already, and I would like to add my two cents’ worth. I have been teaching for 16 years, and have not had the same assignment twice. I don’t get to “recycle”lessons, nor would I if I could. I have too much integrity, and the requirements to meet in my job change too much.
I am in my building for 10-12 hours a day, just to accomplish what I can do, but it does not come close to how long I need to be there to get caught up, let alone get ahead of where I need to be to do my best work so my students can do theirs.
What I think needs to be said is that the profession has changed a tremendous amount over the last 20 years or so. Brain research is changing what we know about how children learn, and all of them learn differently. At the same time, there are more brains in the classroom, as resources dwindle and expectations rise along with class size. Standardized tests used to be well-thought-out and held once per year. Now they are slammed down the throats of public school students, without the correct field testing having been done. Students are held to higher learning standards as new content standards are rolled out, but because all grades were implemented at the same time, students above Grade 1 did not have the preparation needed for the teachers to teach the new standards without also catching up the whole class on prior grade level content, never mind offering what struggling learners need who were farther behind than their peers to begin with.
Standardized assessments of my students account for 30% of a new, untested evaluation system that was designed as a self-evaluation tool for teachers to improve their instruction, but is now being used as a bush-hog to mow down swaths of hard-working, successful professionals at the hands of administrators who are still using subjective measures, and not the rubrics they are required to use. It is implicitly unfair to measure my efforts and success as a teacher when I only have control over a small amount of my students’ achievement and/or ability to concentrate and learn content. Cue the parents who cannot control their one child, and have them watch what happens on the bus, the cafeteria, or the playground as soon as our students are out of our classrooms. They will see then the magic that we work with their children.
My complaint is not that my job is too hard, or too time-consuming, or too frustrating. It is that our society requires teachers and pays teachers, but resents every cent we earn. I read a comment from a person who questioned a teacher going to a fast food restaurant, saying that their tax dollars should not be going to pay for McDonalds!
Our pensions have been trashed, our reputations have been maligned, our value questioned at every turn, and no matter how much we do, it is never enough. I wish that I had a day in my classroom without students for every day with them so that I could truly meet all of their needs. What people don’t realize is that no matter how efficient, organized, or upbeat of a multi-tasker you are, you still cannot make all of the requirements fit into one day, let alone an 8-3 day. I use my “summers off” to work another teaching job and mop my kitchen floor!
I wish I could find a job where I could make the difference that I make in the lives of children and their parents, and make more money, keep my pension, and spend more time with my own children than where I am now. I know teachers are leaving in droves because of the difficulty of the job, but also because of the mandated contributions to health insurance and pensions, at the same time that their image of their value is tarnished by society. I love going to work, and I love my students. I don’t want to change careers. I want to be able to continue to be the professional in my classroom, without being second-guessed by a society that thinks because they were students once and had teachers, they know what it takes to be a teacher.

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Thank you for speaking up on behalf of teachers. Some days I don’t even realize all we do.

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Their behavior gives Ann Arbor a bad name.

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For the above comments who say teachers get paid appropriately for what they work, let me put it in perspective for you.
**I do a year’s worth of work in 180 days**
One: we get paid salary. This means our pay is static no matter how many hours we work past the kids leaving.
Two: the break down. If I get paid $800 a week as a teacher, but I work 9 hours a day during the week and 3 hours on Saturday and 3 hours on Sunday, my total hours for one week equals 51. If we take that out of salary and into hourly, that means I get paid $15 an hour to be a teacher.
Three: $15 per houhttps://twitter.com/mandasuecarpr is a MINIMUM WAGE salary many states are pushing for. Many teachers need to have Master’s degrees and beyond. Thus, it becomes difficult for teachers (depending on where they live) to support themselves financially on $15 per hour while paying for their many degrees. Additionally, that 51 hour work week + family time makes it pretty darn difficult to get a second job, which most teachers do have, by the way.

Ultimately, if a “typical” human is not married to, or a family member of a teacher, they’ll never know how intensive our work is. Just today, for example, I got to work at 6:45 a.m. and didn’t leave work until 5pm. To put this further into perspective, the kids leave at 1:40 but I do not! What’s more interesting is that teaching, for me, doesn’t feel like work until the kids leave. When I’m teaching, I have my purpose-my passion. However, when they’re gone, I’m stuck doing the (incredibly necessary) but terribly taxing minutiae.

Despite needing to deal with the attitudes of my students and their parents, while simultaneously serving as an unbiased equal-opportunist, therapist, psychologist, mother, expert in all things that exist, punching bag, disciplinarian, and humanitarian I still find time to teach my subject matter. It’s by no means an easy job nor is it for the faint of heart. I never knew the true meaning of criticism or praise until I received both by adolescents. Teaching is a bumpy, ugly, distressing, beautiful, soulful, and rewarding experience.

By the time that I am 60 years old, I will have taught thousands of humans. Many of the thousands will go on to be lawyers, politicians, doctors, nurses, mothers, fathers, and so on. I’m teaching the future, I’m making a difference in someone’s life.

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This is spot on. I taught for 32 years. 20 in Chicago. My son just started his first teaching job and being an educator is harder than it’s ever been. Not to mention that you have a limited time to actually TEACH, Zest with all the bull-jive stuff that is required, i.e.. test prep, endless record keeping, etc. I applaud your letter and thank you for it.
P.S. I was in Scotland and learned a great term for eavesdropping. A woman on a bus was listening to my daughter and me talking and she said: excuse me for earwigging… EARWIGGING! Good one.

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I teach 3rd grade also and this year is my 20th year teaching. I just walked in the door at 7:30 pm after putting in a 12 1/2 hour day. That normal for me. As soon as you finish one thing, you find something else that needs to be done. It never ends 24-7-365, the kids are always on our minds. Thank you for you article. You’ve perfectly expressed the thoughts and feelings of every teacher I know, myself included.

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I’m bothered by the commenters who go to the old stand-bys (but summers..!!!) and the rolled eyes, jaded, everything sucks responses. Yes, everything has a down side. The Friends of Taylor probably work hard and have a lot of responsibility to go with those Rolexes. But the detractors are missing the point: teachers’ “value” has NOT gone up with increasing pressure from decades of shoddy education law. The work went from hard to harder to often impossible, the pay went from not great + benefits to barely humanly decent + maybe benefits, and the prestige went from That Must Be Hard to It’s All Your Fault.

Teachers in most states pretty much have to earn a Master’s Degree by the time they reach even ten years in the profession. ‘Respect’ is almost a foreign word to most of today’s youth. Pay is awful. Every single profession that others have named as being just as hard or thankless have some other ‘perk’ that teachers cannot achieve… Doctors are stressed, but those paychecks are nice and people usually don’t tell them they don’t deserve respect. Secretaries handle so very much, but they won’t be made to pay for mandatory post-graduate classes just to keep their jobs. And so on.

Some teachers can choose to be professionals who don’t give it their all. Of course, even going into education at all is a choice for some… It’s all I CAN be, I think, now that I know how much we need sharp people out there trying to mitigate all the bs thrown at school-age Americans. You don’t need to know my credentials, job title, or current to-do list… Just know that the (thankfully few) negative views expressed here are a part of the reason that millions of NEW teachers leave the profession every year. And why you’ll be wondering why there’s no one left to educate our kids in a few years.

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This is perfect. I am a retired teacher of children with special needs. I taught for 32 years and lived my “kids” but opted for the earlier retirement because emotionally and ohysucally just couldn’t do it anymore. Your letter hit everything spot on.
I actually have had this same conversation with people when I’ve heard the comments above. Thank you for your heartfelt letter on behalf of all teachers past, present and future!!

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This is a beautifully written letter- I sure hope social media passes it on to Josh’s people. I have been an on again off again teacher since I graduated from college, but this is the first year that I have been full on, lead teacher in a Prek-8 school. I have been deciding if my experience is just because its the first year at a new school, or the world of being a teacher… unfortunately it is the latter. We have to fight to have the system re-evaluated, and your letter is one well-written testament to that cause. Thank you for writing it, Manda. Thank you for being a teacher as long as you could… and even if you are out the “real world,” I am sure you will find a way to teach 🙂

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A friend on Facebook who is a teacher shared this blog post and this was my response:

This makes me really sad. In my opinion, teachers are and have always been heroes. They’re helping to inspire the future. I know this because when I was in 3rd grade, my home life gave me many reasons to never aspire to anything. But my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Saidman, told me that I could do it and that she believed in me. She taught me that no, I wasn’t stupid. And when I couldn’t afford to get the school yearbook that I wanted so much, she bought me one. Because of her, I am the woman I am today with big dreams. That’s how I know that teachers, like you, are heroes.

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Sarah, it sounds like Mrs. Saidman had a really great impact on you, because she believed in you and supported you. Maybe that makes her a hero. On the other hand, from what all the teachers here are saying, 99% of the job of a teacher is paperwork, grading, judging, test prep, classroom management, etc. Why are they doing all those things? Can’t they just be caring, supportive, intelligent mentors? Isn’t that what kids need?

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Aaron. are you serious???!!! you can’t be. your last two sentences….???!!! i can’t begin to list the reasons and explain….. you don’t get it!!! ” administration “. “state mandates “. ASK a teacher about ” all those things “. !!!!!

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SA, I recently visited a school in Baltimore called Arts & Ideas Sudbury School. My last two sentences describe exactly what the teachers do at this school. It is a private school so there is no need for anyone to worry about the “administration” and “state mandates” that plague most schools. Sudbury schools are popping up all over the place, and they are incredible places. Teachers, parents, and students need to say NO to all the things that get in the way of learning. They really aren’t necessary!

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🙌🏾 Thank you for putting this is words that my friends can understand !

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I am a school psychologist for a public school and agree with everything the writer pointed out about what teacher’s give on a day-to-day basis. Most teachers I know are at school by 6:15 AM and many don’t leave until close to 5 PM. Not to mention the many evening and weekend activities they are expected to attend. I also have to mention that teachers are required to do tons of professional development which often is done on their own time and with their own money just to keep their certification. The emotional toll of working with children who are neglected and abused at home or exhibit behavioral issues at school is extremely taxing and often, teachers do their best, but they are not equipped to handle some of the extreme needs thrown at them. I truly love and respect my colleagues for all the heart they put in to their job every day.

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I was a teacher for nearly forty years. Toward the end of my career, I left the classroom for a while to be a literacy coach. Only then did I gain a smidgen of perspective about how extremely hard I’d worked all those years. Even so, I returned to the classroom my last three years because I missed those kids. Shortly after I retired, my husband and I went to the bank and spent close to an hour with two bank employees. We mostly schmoozed. While we talked all nice and relaxed, I couldn’t help but think about all the classroom teachers who during that same hour were having a tremendously different experience. Much more satisfying, but those two guys probably haven’t a clue what a hard day’s work can mean.

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My husband is a Josh and this year he is in a new schools district driving significantly further to work each day on top of coaching, his days are sometimes longer than mine (I work 12s plus drive an hour each way) and he does it 5 days a week plus has a small seasonal business on the side. I tell him daily how proud of him I am because the job beats him down sometimes and he lives off coffee this time of year. He has a job I could never survive. So thank you!!

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“I wanted to make you ponder the differences of your job and his, but I’m afraid we would’ve run out of time. I’ll just throw this one out there: you can get away with being tired and hungover, whereas Josh has to be ON from the minute those kids arrive in the morning.”

Sorry, I did not realize that I could be hungover at my job and not have to start working at 7:30 and leave at 6:30 5 times a week.

Your job is not my job, so do not judge it, just as you do not what me to judge yours. This statement is just as bad as all others were saying. I have a job in the non teaching world, and let me tell you, the pay is not much more, it’s basically the same. How do I know? I have a sibling that’s a teacher. She has time to teach, coach a high school sports team and a club team (both of which she gets paid) and still has time to grade and do lesson plans during the week and on the weekends.

I understand that not all teachers jobs are the same. Yes, I agree, those guys were a**holes. Also, I get verbally threatened, called vulgar names, multiple times a day by people whom I never met. I get mentally and physically exhausted as well.

Everyone needs to stop comparing their jobs to others. My friends think I cannot respect teachers. I respect them, but I am tired of them not thinking other jobs aren’t stressful because they all think that.

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Your sister is probably doing those other jobs because she needs the extra money those provide because a teacher salary alone is not enough to get by, especially with a family not because of the “time.” And the time those extra things demand with the amount of compensation she is making from them is nothing to boast about by any means.

She is not trying to demean anyone else’s job; she gets that there are a lot of jobs out there that are stressful and time consuming…she’s a smart woman. What she IS trying to share is how little teachers are valued in the corporate world and well around the world in general (when funny enough they were educated by a teacher how to do their jobs). They are also very underpaid for the amount of EDUCATION they have received and the amount of work they do as a combination; some have masters degrees and administration degrees like my husband. I could complain all day how stressed I am at my job too; I’m exhausted all the time and I don’t make much either, but I’m also in an entry level position. The point was to bring to light how much teachers do (and even more than she could even write) and how little people realiZe they do, and the “holidays and summer days off” stigma that follows them everywhere. The lack of respect by many and lack of compensation for the highly educated teachers in our current world. This was not an attack on your job. I’m sure it’s difficult getting by some days.

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In may not be a teacher, but I work in what you call the “real world” have no time for myself and get paid the same as teachers. My day starts at 7:30 and I don’t leave until 6:30, if I’m not putting in REQUIRED overtime. So let’s face it. I’m never done at 6:30. My job may not be physically demanding, but let’s not forget about the mental impact. People are rude and selfish. I get called names, insulted, and even threatened. My job is just as stressful as teaching. My sibling is a teacher and I’ve never seen someone with so much time off in the summer. Yes breaks are not always off, but it’s more time than I get. I cannot judge your job since I’ve never done it, but you cannot do mine since you’ve never done it. You may have had a job in both the the teaching and corporate world, but not MY job. I work with a couple ex teachers and they admit that both stress them out but in different ways. Your judging my job and insulting me by saying that I do not have to be “on”. You also think I always have time to eat. Yes, I think I run much to fast on a treadmill, I’m surprised I don’t fall off halfway through the day. I have a degree. I am not working a retail job like you probably think. It is corporate. Teacher should be paid more, I agree. I admire what they do and the time and dedication they put into their jobs. That shape the future. But in no way, does that automatically make their jobs more stressful than mine. That’s what you think. At least from reading this article.

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I can totally respect that you might feel Amanda’s comments were attacking those in the “real world” but I will say the weight of responsibility a teacher feels for her/his students is unlike anything one can imagine. It keeps you awake at night, and on a daily basis the plans and ideas one has for lessons does not always work because of breakups, family issues, trauma etc… I think the point here is that no one gets it, and your comment/reply to Amanda proves it. I used to work 60+hours a week in two jobs and I promise you I slept much more soundly at night doing those jobs. Your comment is the reason Manda is writing, not to undervalue others, but to bring attention to the fact that people think teaching is not a hard job.

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I work with clients and they’re money. If I don’t they’d be on the street. So your students are equivalent to my clients. I did not make it clear in my post. Many people do undervalue the teaching. The job is time consuming and I understand they are not done at 3. They have planning to do and much more. How this is written makes it sound like teaching is the only extremely stressful job that impacts people. That was my issue with the post. It is an exhausting job and it takes a special person to teach.

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Preach it Manda!! Amen! Amen! Amen! My mom is an RSP (special ed) teacher and girl everything you said is sheer truth. Don’t listen to the haters. People who have been teachers or who have teachers in their lives know the truth and you spoke it!

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This was perfect. Sometimes I don’t t tell people that I work in education because I can predict what they are going to say. Bravo Manda, I think we would like to get you back in the classroom

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Entering the 20th year since I started teaching, I’ve “only taught” ten of those years. My husband is a chemistry professor, so I am the trailing spouse. As such, I’ve filled in the years with teaching, child rearing, and other “business-class” jobs. This means I’ve done the 8-5 job and teaching. From the business end, anytime I had a presentation or conference where I’d need to train others, present a new idea, give a brief talk on a topic, I had weeks to months of prep for a one to three hour presentation time. The piece that others miss is embedded in that dilemma where teachers deal with listeners who don’t politely listen, take notes, ask questions, make suggestions and genteelly share ideas around the table. We deal with needy hearts/minds/bodies who require all we have to give and more from bell to bell and between classes, too. Our presentations last from 7:45 to 3:30 add grading for timely feedback, notes written (and shoved into backpacks without being read), meetings to learn what else must be added to let students/parents know what progress is being made, IEPs planned and unattended, etc. ad nausem with no step raises for decades. We run this hamster wheel to see children catch an idea or notion that they can rise far above anyone else’s limitation on their lives. At least that’s why I do it.

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Love this! My husband is a firefighter/paramedic and we have agreed that our types of stress are very different. But he sees that I can’t just leave work at work like he often can’t because of the love I have for my students. It’s sad that people forget how valuable teachers are in society as they lead to all other professions. Regardless of what others think (of our time off or what not), choosing to teach is amazing and hard all wrapped into one. And if they think it’s so easy they should come try it! (My husband says no way-I’ve asked!)
Thanks Manda!

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“teachers have the hardest, most important, undervalued and underpaid job in the world.”

Bzzzt! Wrong! Cops, Soldiers, Firemen, EMTs. These work the hardest and the must underpaid, especially fire/EMT. Yes, teachers are all the things you said, but not “the most” at all of them.

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You’re missing the whole point. I did update the blog post to say “one of the most” because I do agree with you that there are MANY hard and important jobs. Essentially, every job is important, but this post was directly on the profession of teaching. I can’t write about cops, soldiers, firemen, EMTs, etc. because I’ve never been one. I can only write from my perspective and the experiences I’ve had. Also, just some food for thought: why are you pouring water on houses that aren’t burning down? I’m pouring water on the house that’s on fire because it needs saving.

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Just so you know ALL those professions you named make more than teachers and needing less education. Firefighters work 24hrs and are off 48. No work to do when they are off. Armed men and women are GENEROUSLY compensated through the government. Once they are home they are done for the day. Cops are paid overtime when they work over their shift and have many opportunities for extra pay as do firefighters. Again when their shift is over they are off no work to be done. Check your facts. A first year teacher can hope to make mid 30’s, with having at least a BS but in most states you need at least a masters. What corporate world excutive would accept 30,000 a year with an MBA?

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What these rude commenters don’t realize is how genuine of a writer you really are. I’m so sorry that you’re getting backlash for that. I appreciate this and I appreciate your writing! Keep doing what you’re doing and please don’t ever “delete your blog and quit writing.” The world needs more people like you. 🙂

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From a teacher in the midst of her hardest year in 15 years, also in the middle of her first healthy sustaining pregnancy, feeling those emotions over several of her third graders’ devastating home situations, knowing her job has negatively impacted her new marriage, THANK YOU for writing this.

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Sara,
Please take car of yourself, your pregnancy, and new marriage. I know how much your students mean to you, but your health and family are more important than your students.

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Wow!! So many comments! Like everyone else, I agree with you and commend you for taking such a strong position on this. My mom is a teacher and growing up I always wanted to be one too…and the honest truth about why I am not one is because I knew how severely I would be underpaid. How sad is that? Just think of all the talented, passionate people who would love to teach if it weren’t financially impossible for them. I simply have too high of a student loan payment (from that college that would have given me my degree in teaching) along with all the other costs of life (rent, utilities, food, healthcare, etc.) to be at all even close to comfortable on the average teacher’s salary. It is truly sad that our education system works this way.

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I have worked as a custodian for 14 years in a NYC school. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have defended the work that teachers do yet I must admit not as eloquently as you. I have watched these amazing people struggle, break down then rise to complete every task administration hands to them while juggling 25 or more children sometimes uninterested parents and that one uncontroable child ( if you are lucky to just have one) .. I have opened my building at 6am and watched a flood of teachers pour in and then chased those same teachers from the building at 6 pm .. I have opened those same doors on weekends so that they could come in and finish work and hang up bulletin boards. I have walked in on teachers with tears in their eyes and frustration on their faces .. The money given by teacher choice doesn’t even cover the amount spent on just preparing their rooms for the beginning of the year .. I always hear how they have 2 months off for summer vacation and I always answer it this way .. Teachers basically have 2 jobs .. The one in school and the other 6–10 they work at home … So that 2 months between 2 jobs .. And the first 2 weeks of their vacation is them coming back to reality from the insanity they endured and the last 2 weeks the teachers in my school are back setting up there classrooms and preparing for the next year .. Honestly I can not think of a profession I respect more and this comes from one of those uncontroable children .. One that was lucky enough to find a teacher who changed his life and set him on a journey to a better life … So thank you for inspiring and guiding the future

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Wow. Thank you. You made me cry. I’m one of those teachers who have to be chased out of the building at night sometimes. You reminded me of a great custodian, Ron, who always made a few minutes available to talk and tell a story that would chase the tears away. I begged the administration for an extra white board every year to no avail. One day, I came into my classroom to find one mounted and ready to use. Ron bought it with his own money and hung it for me. He wouldn’t let me thank it for him because wink wink he had no idea how it happened. Every spring my 12th grade students write their post graduation plans on it. They list colleges, military branches, trade unions, and full time jobs. They tell me how excited they are to finally have the chance to write their plans after waiting for 4 years. It really does take a village, or at least a good team of people who love the kids!

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I’m a teacher and I have a thought for you. The main reason why people disrespect the teaching profession is that they feel it’s a job they COULD do themselves but they “don’t have the patience”. Where fire fighters, cops, doctors and nurses are considered trained specialists, teachers, ESPECIALLY elementary ones, are considered un- or under-trained, unskilled workers. Unfairly, I know. Most elementary teachers these days have masters degrees in early childhood education and all of them know more applicable psychology than nearly anyone outside of the mental health profession. Because they need it. Daily. But we get bad press because we don’t self-promote. I’ve often said that pre-service teachers would benefit greatly from a marketing class before being sent out. Until then, I think we’ll continue to be undervalued by those with little or no emotional IQ. Those two on the train sounded callus and shallow. And they’re not alone. So maybe save a prayer for us all. I will. Have to say, also, exceptionally written and uplifting piece. Thank you for all of us still in “the trenches”.

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Your words both touched me and enflamed my heart. It’s been VERY difficult for the past 6 years in the state of NJ. Our government has not only stripped our paychecks, it’s stripped our souls. I read FB posts daily from a few groups I’m involved in, and it hurts every time I hear how educators are suffering (lost salary, lost benefits b/c they can no longer afford to pay for them, lost homes/foreclosures, lost money to pay for their own children’s sports/activities, difficulties buying food, but worst of all is the loss of respect from the public…especially our government who 8s supposed to support and protect its workers!)

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Interesting perspective.

I have friends who enjoy teaching because they enjoy working with kids. I have friends who more or less volunteer to coach after school (a few grand a sport) after teaching all day. I’m glad they have conveyed the value they receive from teaching. I know they value when I show up to their coaching obligations.

We live in a medium sized Midwestern city, where making 45k-55k where it is said and done, makes for a great living. It off outpaces starting salaries in other fields, but the cap is obviously lower. One thing I won’t apologize for is being jealous of summers “off”. They have been able to take 2 week vacations to visit family and friends, take advantage of special interest such as coaching an AAU basketball team and doing private sports training, working a day camp in NYC, work and shadow a home builder to see if one did want to make a career jump, get feet wet in masters classes etc. I’m sure everywhere is different but 10 weeks is a decent amount of time to have “off”, even if decorating a classroom is involved. I actually used some of my 10 PTO last year to supplement my income by teaching. Sucks going to work the day after thanksgiving and Xmas.

I also question if this guys Rolex on the train was real… Why was he on ridng the L, and why was he being such a dbag… If you have a Rolex on it is bound to get stolen on the L and you can afford an Uber. Okay? So now where is the blog post on how blogging is actually the toughest job and technically your work is always with you.

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After an eleven hour long day of teaching fourth graders, all I have to say is this

Thank you.

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On behalf of my 58 year old sister who teaches 25 inner-city kindergarteners, thank you.

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I retired last year with 29 years in education. Thirteen years were in fourth grade, seven as a librarian for grades K through fifth, and nine years for grades sixth through eighth.
I had a master’s plus nine hours, but had topped out on the salary schedule and was actually losing money.
I was 62 years when I retired because I had worked multiple other jobs before returning to college to complete my education degree.
Comparing this job to prior jobs made me feel like I had three jobs rolled into one.
Everything said about the duties, hours, and expectations have been spot on from these comments. It wears you down and drains you till nothing is left. I went into teaching to save the world, and almost completely lost myself!
Pay scales are low for having earned a college degree with added degrees! Health insurance has become horrid, and because of the stresses on us, our bodies can’t hide the effects, and so we end up sick!
I cannot in good conscience, recommend education to any young person! My own children, who helped me in my classroom, saw what was required and said no to the thought of being a teacher!
The ignorance of the general public on what it means to be a teacher is overwhelmingly sad!
These conversations do happen among the general public as I read where a current teacher from my old school posted one from the doctor’s office she was waiting in. Happens all the time!
When you hear what’s it like to teach in today’s conditions, does not exactly make for a great calling card for the younger generations!

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Thanks! After 20 years of teaching, I must have heard a similar conversation 50+ times. As a teacher of grades 1-4, all your comments about the work ring true. Luckily, I was able to get hired as an international school teacher. We are much more valued and we actually get more than one break in a day and 50 minutes for lunch most days. There are so many cultures and languages in my classroom. For those teachers feeling burn-out in the states, I highly recommend taking an overseas teaching job. Most contracts are 2 years, but I liked it so much, I have stay for 10 years. There are places in the world where teachers are respected. Isn’t it said I had to leave my home country to find them?

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First of all thank you for this public letter it really touched my heart and soul

Like you I am also an ex-teacher (although I will always be one in my heart). I come from a family of teachers. I taught for CPS (Chicago public schools) for 7 years, I taught 2nd grade, kindergarten, ESL/Art Resource and 1st grade all in that order. I left because :

1. I burned out, everyday for those past 7 year I felt like I wasn’t doing enough , I was tried of all the unecessary testings, all the blame from society, and the under-recognition (I never was appreciated or given some sort of recognition by my principal until I went into his office to say I was leaving, sure we have been appreciated as a group in teacher meetings, but not one on one, something we would do for our students to keep them motivated) especially when you have a mayor making us to look like the bad guys.

2. I married and moved to NC (a state I know has problems with their public school system), I miss teaching and being in the classroom, but I need to take a spiritual and mental break before I do go back.

Right now I am teaching ESL online to kids in China and I am enjoying it, I hope to go back to the classroom one day. Every now and then I stumble across some drawings and love notes my ex-students have given me (I have a box filled with love notes from my 7 years of teaching) and I would start to cry, because they are the ones that really cared, they are the ones that would let us know how important we are to them, if only everyone else can see it too.
I miss all my kids and I miss doing projects with them, reading with them, getting ah ha moments and light bulbs turned on. My students were the reason I would get up super early in the morning, they were the ones I why I would spend a fortune to make sure the lesson was perfect and fun for them. They were the reason I would stay late to talk to them and their parents when there were problems at home.

I have smiled, I have laughed, I have gotten angry and annoyed, I have cried, I have worried, I have wonder and I have been frustrated, but every time I have left the classroom i was proud and humbled by my students , they were my teachers and they were the ones that showed me how important I was to them, they knew I was giving it all I got. We were a family for a year, and in year came long-lasting memories and unconditional love. I have wonderful memories during my 7 years and I am truly grateful for every one of them.

To all my fellow teacher world wide I send all my love and know that you are awesome and super important.

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The number one problem with these articles is the assumption that no one else takes work home with them, works more than 40 hours a week or is underpaid. I know many people who are making $30,000 salary to work year round, full 8 hour days plus regular nights and weekends with just 2-3 weeks off a year. People in higher education, in marketing, in event management, many people work more than teachers, are paid less and have much less time off.

As far as the note of coming in before the students and staying late, the only place I might see that is middle and high school. I frequently saw teachers walking in 15 minutes before the bell when I would drop my child off of school, and I rarely encountered an elementary teacher who would respond to emails outside of school hours.

Maybe there are teachers out there that are amazing and go above and beyond for their students. Most of us with children in the public school system encounter a lot of really shitty teachers. Teachers that make us wonder how in the hell they ever passed college. Teachers so shockingly lazy that instead of teaching handwriting, they put kids in front of computers to type because it’s easier for the teacher to read and grade papers. Those same lazy ass teachers receive recognition for utilizing technology while their students are the only ones that have to play catchup the following year because they weren’t taught something they needed to carry with them the next year. Maybe it’s time to stop celebrating mediocrity and demanding quality.

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Jane,

May I ask where in my article I stated that no one else takes work home with them?

You’re right that I did not mention any other profession that’s overworked and underpaid. How can I when I write from my perspective and my own experiences? I was a teacher, now I’m in a marketing job. I work fewer hours and am paid more. Like everyone, there’s some stress within my line of work, but it’s absolutely nothing compared to the stress I was under as a teacher.

I’m sorry that you’ve had such a negative experience with teachers. I don’t doubt that there are some lazy ones out there. Just like I don’t doubt that there are some lazy cashiers, engineers, doctors, marketing consultants, etc. (insert EVERY possible profession) out there.

This post didn’t celebrate mediocrity, nor did it indulge the tangent you’re branching off to.

I agree we should demand quality, especially when it comes to our educators. Perhaps you get quality candidates when you raise the standards, increase compensation, and make the job respectable and noble as it once was.

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AMEN JANE

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I have the freedom of “pulling the old lady card” as my children say it, and, when I overhear rubbish like they were spouting, I tend to politely interrupt them to educate them. If nobody tells them, how are they to understand unless they quit the corporate world and take one of those “cushy” teaching jobs. But then, I’m also one of those wierd-os who compliment strangers. If you don’t know them, what difference does it make what they think about you? At least you planted a seed that might somewhere, down the line, produce fruit. We are all educators of one sort or another…make it count!

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Add childcare workers to this list, who make even less than half of what teachers make, are living in poverty, yet are tasked with arguably one of the most important jobs in our society.

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I respect this article and I understand the frustration, but there are people who aren’t teachers who work equally as hard for an equally low salary. The respect goes both ways. Hopefully teachers understand they’re not the only ones struggling in the working world. People work hard no matter what they’re doing, period.

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I liked your story (true or not…although I suspect it is true, since I’ve heard similar conversations), but I’ve heard all of the responses before…some people sympathetic to teachers, some who must hate their jobs, who are critical of teachers with their incredible amounts of time off and some who think that teaching can be compared to the corporate world.

Teacher salaries have come a long way in the last 40 years…starting teacher salaries only trail other starting professions by 20 – 25%, for equal education, and most teachers can live on their salaries now – maybe not comfortably, but they can live on them.

When I started teaching, I had a neighbor who quit his teaching position because he could make more money mowing grass in the summer than he could teaching all year. Another said the same about painting houses. I had two year-round part-time jobs besides teaching that I kept for five year, to make ends meets. One was doing store inventory that started after the stores closed…usually after 10pm. But I could honestly say that I taught because I loved my job, which a surprisingly large number of people responding to this letter obviously do not.

My wife was a nurse during this same time period and, although we worked similar hours, for the first twenty years she consistently made more than I did. (Then she went to part-time). But there was no way I could’ve done her job…I would not have been able to handle the arrogance of some of the doctors, or the rudeness of some of her patients. But she, in turn, was adamant about not being able to handle my job, knowing that each student came with parents attached (something you don’t have in corporate jobs). But we both loved what we did and were happy. Neither of us thought of trying something else.

And that’s the main thing. Going into teaching for the money is ludicrous…and you should know that going in. Going into any job just for the money is self-destructive. It takes all kinds of people to make things work and forcing yourself to get up and go to work at a job you hate, just because of the money isn’t healthy. A career is a long time. Someone once said they could do anything for a year. But 30+ years? You need to do what you like and like what you do…and the rest of your life will follow through.

Oh and just a note about teacher pensions and days off. When people complain about the pension that teachers are “given,”do they really believe it is given to them? I paid in to a pension fund for 35 years-.paid out of my salary-and it is the same as paying into Social Security…your pension is based on how much you put in there…no freebies. The pension fund has just done a better job of investing than the government…but the insurance still stinks! As for days off,…the days teachers don’t work, they don’t get paid. And no overtime, no bonuses, no raises for performance, and they have to pay for mandatory education every year to maintain their certification. And their salaries are at the mercy of voters and an unconstitutional property taxes. ‘Nuff said.”

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Thank you so much for writing this! This is my 14th year teaching in New York City and I’m beyond burnt out. The mandates from people who haven’t entered a classroom since they themselves graduated high school, the never-ending to-do list that has more additions per day than subtractions, the constant repetition of simple directions because some choose to talk instead of listen the first time, the “no, not my child” syndrome, the extremely unrealistic expectations of the Danielson rubric (begging the question… who is Charlotte Danielson anyway?)… if I start nodding off with my laptop on my lap and papers on both sides of the couch at 9:30 pm in the middle of a tv show that I stopped following to grade the 25-questions x 30 test papers for tomorrow, please don’t wake me up… I’ll catch up on it over the weekend, along with the next set of papers in my heavy teacher bag.

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Mandatory, first of all thank you. You write so eloquently. Secondly, I went from there job to teaching and my only regret is that I didn’t realize tell love I would have for teaching. Let them have the beers and Rolex watches, I’ll take tell metamorphosis that comes with an “F” student becoming a ” C” then “B” in the span of 9 weeks. I’ll take the student who comes in on my class after school and helps me clean and straighten up my room while I work he doesn’t have to go home to a dangerous neighborhood until his Mom gets home from work. I’m there anyway. I’ll take the student….., daily.

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I don’t try to defend my teaching career anymore. Those who don’t “get it” simply don’t. My children don’t always get the patient, calm, devoted mom they deserve when I make it home at 5:00 and I went in at 6:00 am. But, they understand it in a way only children of a teacher could. Thank you… teardrops forming, all I can think is thank you for putting it out there. Once a teacher, always a teacher…

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Amanda, thank you so much for this wonderful article. I too resigned after this past school year. You are definitely not alone in that. I am also still cheering for all the Joshes. Do you live in the NYC area?

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I use to teach catechism, some classes had 6-12 kids and others 20+. No matter the size or ages of the class they all involved lots of work and I taught only 2-4 days a week. The prep work which I did at home involved most of my time; reading the lesson plan and trying to make the information interesting and fun so the kids wouldn’t get bored. I would come up with games, etc. so the kids didn’t feel like religion or church was just a waste of time (like I did when I was younger). I had to plan so that there was enough material for the time allotted. Make up quizzes. Never assign homework so we did it in class. I didn’t want religion class to be a chore. Ask the kids to go to church on Sunday, listen to the readings, gospel, etc. so we can discuss them in class. You wouldn’t believe how many kids didn’t go to church because their parents didn’t. I would have to write a nice letter to the parants asking them to take their kids to church as it was part of the program and it’s one of the 10 commandments. I was dealing with the kids and their parents. I never wanted to embarrass the kids so I would mail the letter out (my time and my money for stamps). I never knew the volunteer job would take so much out of me.

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I know this is a sacrilegious comment on this post and it’s a generalization, but in my experience I’ve found my teacher friends to in fact go around with this mentality that their job is tougher than anyone else’s. It’s very annoying and untrue in most cases. If you find a job to be so torturous and THAT draining, why did you sign up? You should think about a different career because it obviously isn’t for you if you’re going around wining about how you can’t have a life because you’re a teacher. Cry me a river, it’s called being an adult. We all have to work. My teacher friends also tend to be flakes, heavy drinkers and partiers, and they use the same teacher excuse as the cause of that. It’s so bogus and I’m sick of hearing it. I appreciate the work they do and I know it’s not a walk in the park, but guess what? There are SO many more difficult jobs out there than teaching children, so suck it up or change careers to something that will allow you to live a normal life.

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Dear anonymous commenter,

Thank you for taking the time to comment, but I really wish you would’ve taken just as much time to actually read the article first.

You see, I agree with you that if someone can’t “suck it up,” as you put it, any longer, then they should change careers. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I DID. (Had you actually read the post you’d know that.)

In regards to your question, “If you find a job to be so torturous and THAT draining, why did you sign up?” Because none of us really know what we’re getting ourselves into. Because we have a heart. Because we wanted to teach. Because we were driven by passion. Because we thought maybe we could change a kid’s life.

You’re absolutely right that there are so many difficult jobs in the world. No one is saying there aren’t. However, this article was specific to teachers based off the conversation I heard and the personal experience I’ve had from both being a teacher and now working in the corporate world.

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Just a side note, it’s “whining,” not wining.”
Sincerely, an English teacher

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ANONYMIZER, I think you, along with several others didn’t pay much attention to what this blog is all about. First, you didn’t pay a lot of attention during spelling lessons. Second, you need to thank a teacher for a basic understanding of grammar, the ability to respond to this blog which has insulted your sensabilities, the ability to fill out a job application and the ability to tell time so you can get to your LOWLY job that is so hard on you. IF your teachers had not cared, you would not have the job you have today.

I worked in elementary education and saw how hard teachers worked. The custodian or my principal usually pushed me out the door late at night because I was working on 200+computers, trying to get email on-line, resetting printers, anything to do with technolog; anything that I could do to make a teacher’s day go smoother. I am not complaining, just stating facts.

I helped out at my child’s school for 6 years, in classrooms, in the office, any where I could help. Then I worked as a Para-professional for 2o+ years. I had many principals who expected me to manage a classroom full of 20-25 students. I did not have the education or training to manage a classroom, but I did have common sense. But, I was fortunate to be extremely well liked by the students and they cooperated and listened. I ran the Computer Lab, a favorite class, loved every pain-in-my-backside student, and they knew it. I was able to help teachers get a trip to the restroom, time to grab a drink of water, coffee or just take a breath.

I, as an “instructional assistant”, saw how hard teachers worked and how much of their own pay check was spent on their students. Do you buy ink for your printer at work out of your own pocket? Do you buy pencils or pens for co-workers out of your paycheck?

Everyone in a school eduacates. But it was not just a job, it was a need to help children. I wanted to help children have 6-hours to feel safe, learn whatever they could and, hopefully, smile, laugh and learn how to interact with other children and adults.

I am assuming you never WHINE or complain to anyone about your job. IF you do, get over yourself. It’s called “being an adult” as you put it.

I am a military wife and have lived from east coast to west coast and back again. I have never seen or met a hard drinking teacher. I am so happy for your friends that can go out boozing and partying. It must be very relaxing and maybe they can hide in a cubicle supporting their aching head. (See, others can get on a bandwagon, grandstand about things when they don’t have all the facts.) And, I have had other jobs that you could never comprehend and that you probably would never do. Military families are also broke, if you keep up with the news.

TEACHERS ARE UNDER APPRECIATED BY OUR SOCIETY, even though law makers would NOT be able to function in their jobs if not for educators. The President would not be President!

What I am trying to say is, if you can read this, Thank a Teacher! Without them, where would you be right now, certainly not reading this blog. Don’t be angry that you cannot agree or be agreed with (bad form I know). There is no win-win in this argument. Everyone has put their point of view out there and, as lowly human beings, that is all we can do.

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Thank you for writing this. Forget the pay issue and days off issue. I appreciate the acknowledgement that we are tired at the end of the day and no we don’t always have the energy or desire to go out and whoop it up. I also have people in my life that don’t get that I like being quiet and I like being in a quiet room alone sometimes. I talk allllllll day long and it’s exhausting. Sometimes, I don’t have it in me to have another conversation that lasts a few hours or that is just small talk. But I get it. It’s hard to understand when you don’t experience things in the same ways 🙂 Thanks again for putting it out there.

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If you do become a teacher, don’t buy into this kind of stuff. No one needs to defend, offend, suspend, or rationalize teaching except you; the teacher. People who say they tried it and quit weren’t really ever there. The real and tangible +/- of being a teacher has nothing to do with grabbing a beer or grading papers all weekend. Believe me, you will find advantages to the schedule. The very best advantage of teaching is you, your kids, your classroom. You are the most grudgingly omnipotent leader of all time! Be humble, work hard, love your kids (and rock your summers)!

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I have been teaching for 21 years and I cringe at the “but you get summers off” defense people give when teachers dare voice concerns about working conditions/hours/pay. Unfortunately when people have these negative opinions about teachers, it’s not easy to change their minds or have them see reason. So I bite my tongue.

However, I do feel bad for people who get to choose their holiday times and get paid a wage that’s more in line with their value to society (and level of education). Why? They will never experience the joy of teaching a group of amazing students and being able to positively influence their lives. It’s too bad they will never experience the rush of creativity that comes when you get together (on your own time) with colleagues to plan a kick-ass unit that you know will leave a lasting impression on your students. Or the thrill of going to a bookstore and finding so many books that those great kids would LOVE to read (and of course buying them with your own money and trying to figure out what you won’t buy for yourself instead).

I spent most of my (unpaid) summer planning my year out, scouting the internet for new books/resources/apps for my students. I needed that time to recharge from 10 months of being “on”. But recharging doesn’t mean not working. I’m just working on things that I will do once I’m back in the classroom.

Everybody works. Lots of people work insanely long hours. Everyone seems busier than they were 10 years ago. I wish my profession was respected more, compensated more, and understood. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it’s not just a job, it’s a calling.

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So glad you wrote this. I just started my fourth year of teaching and it’s been a major shock to my system. I did have a corporate career before this and I did work long hours, but nothing like my currentwork load. The expectations of teachers are unreal! I’m so ashamed that I too was once a little twit like the ignoramuses on the train and I was thought like they did. Mea culpa! For every teacher that actually lasts in these field- I bow before you in sheer admiration because I don’t know how you do it. I might be bowing out.

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Thanks for telling it like it is! Started my 30th year this September. I love what I do.

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My friend was a 3rd grade teacher in East Oakland and wrote about it. Leaving the link but it’s “Literally Unbelievable” by Bronwyn Harris. It’s self published, and she’ll come talk to your group of course. Buy on Amazon.

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Whew – just read ALL the comments. Some valid, some not. Some smart, some drivel. I’m 70, have never been a teacher, but always wanted to be one. Reason I wasn’t: COURAGE!. Didn’t think I could handle the job, afraid I would run out of patience by mid-day (at best), knew what a piece of work I was growing up (incorrigible would be a charitable label) and would want to squeeze the necks of any kids who misbehaved. Spent 26 years in the military, 7 years in the insurance industry, 4 years as a government contractor, and 12 years as a Realtor. I worked many jobs in many places but do not think any one of them would be as hard as Teaching. I have a niece, my hero, who has been teaching for 15 years. As I have explained to her, I believe there is a real distinction between “working hard” and doing “Hard Work”. I worked hard for many, many years in jobs that – at times – were hard. But, I think Teaching is Hard Work at all times,,,,,,,even if you are not a “good” teacher. Some 54 years after HS graduation, I can still remember the good ones who taught me History and English (my favorite subjects) and “how to get on with life” (my Homeroom Teacher). Kudos to those who do the work others can’t handle. The arguments may go on forever but count me as one who always wished he could say: I Touch the Future. I Teach

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Great article, but I’m going to be that annoying teacher who points out that the adjective form ‘bias’ is ‘biased’ (last paragraph). Sorry. Wonderful piece. 🙂

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While I respect your right to your own opinion, maybe I can offer mine: Respect ALL jobs, and stop judging people. You have no idea what kind of people any of them are. You only got a few minutes snapshot into a conversation that could be taken completely out of context. I will not defend all people of my field, and I would be surprised if you defended ALL teachers as hardworking, undervalued, and underpaid. You assume that these men work in some job that isn’t disrespected and that they are overpaid. How do you know that? Maybe instead of complaining to the internet, you can do something to change it. Be active in your intolerance of judgements and encourage others to do the same instead of putting people down on the internet. Work to resolve divides between people in different careers and show that you can be a loving and tolerant person no matter what line of work you are in. I came across this article from teacher friends on facebook, imagine what an impact you would have if you shared a story of understanding and encouraged respect for ALL jobs, while you specifically write about teachers. I wish you a great day and I want you to know that I appreciate you and how hard you work!

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Thank you for your beautiful article!
I had to break up a fight yesterday afternoon between 2 of my 6th grade boys and was so upset afterwards, not because I was hurt but because I was so disappointed. Teachers love their kiddos. You have to, to be an effective teacher, and when they hurt, you do as well.
After 17 years in this field, I’ve realized that the academic lessons run a close second to the life lessons and faith, trust, hope, and love we try to instill in them. Thank you again for speaking up for us! Be blessed.

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There are three things about teachers’ jobs that I think are often overlooked. For me, as a former high school teacher in Title 1 schools in NYC, these are why make my job now so much easier on my quality of life. To be clear, the job I have now, I’m overwhelmingly under-staffed, so I am stil working very hard.
1) The lack of bathroom breaks. Seriously, this cannot be overstated. I have worked as a cashier and waited tables, and getting time to use the restroom in those jobs was tricky, but it was nothing compared to the bladder control necessary to teach. I know teachers who actually develop medical conditions due to this challenge.
2) Buying your own pens. This seems like minutia, but the dollars spent on run of the mill office supplies (and I don’t even mean the stuff for the kids) is ridiculous and insulting. I had a payroll secretary who used to unlock one dry-erase marker for me at a time. It would last me about two days, and I would go back and get another. Eventually, the indignity would cause me to go purchase my own dry-erase markers. Other supplies I couldn’t get, pens or pencils, paper for the printer or copier, toner, tape, staples, push pins… All of these things are now provided by my workplace.
3) This will sound crazy, but scheduling your own days off. Yes, teachers get holidays off during the year. They also get some time in the summer. You know what they can’t do? They can’t take a day when they need is and work a different time. And since most of their time off is on federal holidays, it’s difficult for them to see doctors, go to the bank, or any of the other things I can do now if I take off a random Thursday.

Anyhow, this comment is overly long, but I wanted to say thanks. I frequently think of going back into the classroom because I miss the work, but the quality of life sacrifices I would need to make keep me doing what I do.

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I too just left a 17 year teaching career. And on your own children to the mix, piranha parents who blame you for everything and a poor administration. Always a good time to feel disrespected left & right. W paying for my kids childcare I was taking home no money it was ridiculous – and sad

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Yes,I misspelled “educates”. Sorry!

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This touched my heart today- thank you! It’s all so true and so unfortunate. I’m barely hanging in there!

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I’m a special education teacher in a small school district in southern MN where I teach 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade students with disabilities in tbe areas of; Emotional & Behavioral Disorders and Learning Disabilities. This is my first year and tbe hours are already countless, averaging 11 to 13 hours a day. To top it off; I’m a single mom to 10 year old twin boys. Yes, this means I was later than many to have my children and later than most to start my teaching career; but I wouldn’t change most of it.

I too am tired of all the negative comments from others about teachers having cushy jobs and so much time off. It’s a compensation for the hours we put in on during days off, weekends, breaks, and summer vacations. Teaching while full of blessings is one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had. I’ll try to explain to some, to others I’ll give them a sarcastic answer, but to those few, you’ll get the best response. ….”That’s funny because without teachers no other job is possible. All others jobs start in school with everyone learning reading, writing, and mathematics. “

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Interesting reading the comments. I’ve been teaching in the UK for 13 years, last year I almost dropped out of teaching altogether but managed to be a design & technology technician (I couldn’t find a job within 50 miles of where I lived and needed bills to pay). I took a 66% pay cut but at least I was still connected with my love of the job. I still needed a full time job though and managed to land a job out here in the Middle East. I’ll be honest, the sway of tax free pay sealed the deal. I’m earning twice the pay of the UK, I don’t have to do a quarter of the paperwork – almost 20 somethings personal lesson plans (felt like), lists of weekly attainment charts, constant worry of “Is my lesson an outstanding, all singing, all dancing, mega interesting lesson* 5 times a day!

Here the teaching is more relaxed and the onus is whether the pupil is learning and not so much on is the teacher burning themselves out trying to be the best teacher ticking every single box and then some!! We’re allowed to teach, in fact I’m loving teaching for the first time in years. I have respect from the pupils, the parents and the senior staff. They want to know the pupils are learning yes, but not at the expense of the teacher’s health. The pupils want to learn, not make your life a misery teaching. I look forward each day to go to work. I guess in short, don’t give up, there are chances to enjoy teaching in a tough demanding job. But when a pupil comes up to you and says “Thank you sir, I enjoyed today’s lesson.” or “Thank you for putting up with me, I wouldn’t have achieved my grade without your help and dedication.” It makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes a change of teaching direction can help. Yes there are sacrifices teaching abroad away from home, but there are sacrifices taken teaching in your home country.

Thank you Manda. I know it’s a real situation, I’ve heard and been involved in many similar conversations

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Wow. Spot on. (from a retired teacher)

And to Anonymizer: No one said it was the most difficult job in the world, but it isn’t easy, either. And there are many, many things about being in education that one doesn’t know before going into the field, so please don’t say, “if you find a job to be so torturous and THAT draining, why did you sign up?” I have personally run across very few “flaky”
teachers. Most are extremely hard-working, and they usually don’t go around complaining about how hard it is; but I can understand that they would want to make a point to people like the guys on the train, who think teachers have it easy.

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On behalf of my third grade teacher wife, thank you!

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Thank you for “replying” to the guys on the train. I have taught 23 years, and I now make almost $16,000 at a public school, after I pay my portion of health insurance. Yes, you read that right, $16000. And our school board is talking about cutting salaries because we are overpaid for what we do. WHAT? I LOVE my job, and can’t think of anything I’d rather do. But I have to feed my family too. It is because of people like you overheard that I have to make the choice. Please keep sharing!

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It was so nice to read some positive feed back from the outside world. I am the ISS coordinator at a middle school. I am also the football coach. Another teacher sent me this letter and it has given me a boost to get finished with this day. I have been teaching 25 years/coaching and i am not sure i can finish 5 more. My wife became our school nurse about a year ago and after two weeks she understands the last 24 yrs of exhaustion and complaining. She understands the complete beat down. It is refreshing to have someone fight our critics. We also have 4 kids of our on and they go to 3 different schools and play sports (ages 8,10,12,14). We are pushed to the brink of insanity. Last night we got home around 9:30 ate supper and got homework and kids to bed. I looked at clock and it was 11:30. I complained of my exhaustion and my wife felt the same. She stated that will we ever feel rested. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I told her lets get to bed don’t forget I have to check in the buses and they start arriving at 7:35. I have been late because we have only had one car mine is not running right now. THE LIFE OF TEACHERS. A NORMAL STORY FOR ALL OF US!!!

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Tell Josh’s friends this. As a teacher, I recently did a time allocation study for a week. I wanted to know when I was working and what I was working on. I found that in one week, I worked 74 hours. 74. 74……. 74. I worked both Saturday AND Sunday. I’m a 13th year teacher and love my job. I deserve my breaks. I work hard to make sure kids are respectful. I manage much more than an expense report. I have 3 children of my own and give them all of my “extra” time. Then I sit down with my wife and fall asleep on the couch. If you aren’t a teacher, I challenge you to attempt to do what I do. Because I can’t “do” anything else. I’m a teacher. I teach. I give everything I have to 150 students every year plus all of the student athletes that I coach. I have to remember 150*14 years worth of names because my students see me outside of school. I have to remember about another 100 names per year of students who aren’t mine but come to me for help. I love teaching. It is my life’s work. I accept that I work a lot. I do not get paid for what I actually do. I go to work sick. If I miss a day, my students miss a day.

Sorry, lots of random thoughts, but idiots like that don’t have a clue.

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I’m a retired teacher of 35 years. Liked your public letter to the guys on the train, an important statement to them about the holidays and time off for teachers during the school year and summer time, I think you missed. Teachers get paid for ONLY the days they work…the so-called holidays and time off teachers DO NOT get paid…A public misunderstanding. I’m sure the guys on the train receive holiday pay and summer vacation pay….teachers DO NOT! Teachers teach because they have this desire to help children, sacrificing all the time to make for a better world…Thanks for listening to me…

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Thank you for this. My late wife was a Chicago public school teacher for many years, and her workdays and workweeks never ended. She worked much harder that I’ve ever worked — in the “real world,” in PR, as it happens — and of course she made less money than I did. Jane, too, would’ve struggled mightily to hold her tongue with these guys on the Red Line, and she might very well have been unable to do it.

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Love this, for infants and Toddler teachers add the countless diapers we have to change in a day, the bumps and bruises that we that we must explain to the parents, keeping them entertained so that they don’t react by hitting or biting each other. We may not be public school but we do the same work and more. For much, much less than what teachers at the DOE make. Shit I go home and take a nap after work everyday. Not to mention those teachers that are also parents and have to continue with homework and other teachings at home. Some people just don’t get it.

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From a high school teacher to you, thank you. I appreciate your acknowledgement of all the labors of love we perform daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

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He’s probably completey free for a beer but is tired of hanging out with you douches.

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I was a secondary school (ages 11-16) teacher in the UK for 12 years and it took its toll on my mental well being for sure. I was fortunate enough to take voluntary severance after my 2nd child was born, and in June this year qualified as a Baby & Preschool swimming teacher. I get paid a hell of a lot less but I’m so much happier and I think my family are better for it.

I always said no one understands unless they’ve been there, not even my husband truly understood even though he could see what I was faced with and how it affected me.

I am sad I left teaching as I did love it but in my experience it had become an untenable job and I fell out of love with it.

Much respect if you are still at the chalk face.

H x

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Thank you, Manda. It’s nice to know that someone other than my teacher friends and my family understands.
This is my 44th year of teaching. I am seeing more young, “newby” teachers quitting than ever before. One year, two of our new teachers quit within the first nine weeks.
We oldie teachers don’t seem to be valued as much, either. Our system veers toward the young, less expensive, more easily moldable teachers. Yet we hang in there.
Yes, we get summers off. My summer now is down to a bare two months; the three-month summer I see and hear about on tv is no longer true for many sections of the country.
Yet we hang in there.

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This is my second year of teaching. And yes, I am exhausted. And yes, I don’t make nearly enough money. And yes, I love my job. Just today, I was talking with a friend who works in the corporate world and she was complaining about how a “typical day at work” means hating your job, being bored and feeling like your work is pointless. She assumed that this is just “what it means” to work. But to work as a teacher, is the total opposite. It means being able to connect deeply with those around you, to have a voice in your community and literally change lives. As a teacher, each day gets richer. I wish we could place more monetary value on our work but I am so thankful for the soul value that it provides.

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I lasted a mere four years teaching 4th grade before I quit teaching to become a librarian. That was over 30 years ago and I can’t even imagine how much worse it might be now. I have a sister and niece who teach to this day and give them kudos every year they return.

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I have a Master’s degree in computer science. My first career was in the software industry as a software, developer, database administrator, and corporate instructor. I spent 20 years in the industry, and then left my job to be a stay at home dad for three years.

I then went back into the workplace. I had saved enough so that I felt that I could afford to be a teacher; I’ve now spent 9 years teaching high school math, including computer science. I switched because I wanted a job where I could make more of a difference in the world.

Teaching pays half what software did, even ignoring that the dollars aren’t worth as much. The work is far more demanding — I’d estimate that I put in 40-50% more hours per week, and it’s physically exhausting. On the other hand, I’ve gotten multi-page letters from former students thanking me. I made the right choice.

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I have a friend that has been teaching for over 15 years. She is dedicated, proud, hardworking, selfless, and caring. She is also a single mother having her own children to take care of.

There has been a change in how teachers are treated by Administration where she works. Teachers are being pitted against each other. Administration is trying to divide and conquer wherever and however possible. Administration keeps coming up with EduBabble and EduJargon like: rigorous, laser-like, literacy programs, collaboration. Making teachers accountable for seeing demonstrable changes in students. Which the student population is not able to meet due to the behaviors and attitudes of their parents. Letting staff go to hire more Administrators to micro manage the amount of time that teachers spend teaching. Teachers are so afraid and fearful they are siding with Administration and actively engaging in alienating, and shunning their own. Isolating people. In order to get themselves on, what they think is, Good Graces with Administration. Newsflash: there is no check box for “effective administrator brown nosing” in your evaluation.

The point of this post is to concur with the hours of work, standardized testing requirements, lack of involved parents, working with students that are many grade levels behind, making 30 sets containing five to ten pages of Modules because there are no text books – repeat for Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies, filling out plan books for Administration to review.. Insane lesson plans that the students are unable to keep up with.. but Administration says needs to be more rigorous. None of these people commented on staff members ‘eating their own’. Having no peers. Being an island. Being a single mother. Being a one income household. While every committee or extra monetary income position is given to people with less qualifications because “we’re trying to give everyone a chance”. Her peers are disgusting, selfish, and deceitful people. After her twelve hours of working.. she too goes home to continue working, starts being a beautiful mom for the few hours a week that she can spare for her kids.. Only to be bombarded with emails at 8pm telling about another student starting tomorrow in her already maxed out class, or some new non-negotiable that she will be expected to have mastered by the morning. Sleeping four to five hours. Not to mention the tears. She talks about trying to forget about the hell that is her life. How these people have ruined so much. How her life is insane. How this place robs her of all her energy and sucks the life out of her..

Where she works is terrible, toxic, and depressing.

I can’t tell you how amazing, beautiful, funny, intelligent, and special she is; because I miss my friend more than anything, but she is a teacher and has a lot going on right now.

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I love it when someone supports teachers! I just retired after 42 yrs. of teaching, special education, elem. ed., kinder., and preschool. I loved every minute but it was WORK and my family did suffer. I still teach, but in my church; it’s a part of who I am! God bless all those who accept the task of teaching young minds. They are worth it and you will be blessed by your efforts.

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Try doing it AND coaching. I get home about 7:00 p.m. Wake up at 5:00 a.m. I’m never caught up. I am so counting down to retirement. 4 more years.

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I student taught for a little bit during and after college because I thought I wanted to teach. I quickly realized I wasn’t cut out for it and didn’t make it the entire semester. I felt like a failure for not being able to handle the lesson planning, classroom management, etc. Teaching is a hard job, and I wish more people would realize that.

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LK, thank you for recognizing it wasn’t for you. You aren’t a failure! Just think of it this way-you kept the integrity of the profession through your hard decision!

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Thank you for putting into words what I have experienced as a teacher for these past 29 (gulp) years in an urban school district. Hoping more people read this and understand exactly what we do!

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Let us not forget that had it not been for all the teachers they have had in their lives, they would not have the jobs they have today. Teachers are the only professionals that help prepare others for a career.

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Thank you. Spent 10 years in the business world before becoming a teacher. I am now at year 29 of teaching. It’s amazing when your calling finds you.

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As a parent of a student with an IEP, let me thank you and all of his teachers for the countless hours spent helping students find a path that develops individual strengths. Whatever jobs those “guys” have, I’m sure they don’t have the same impact on the lives of our next generation. Many parents are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Teachers now have to fill that gap in the lives of the kids. There is no job that is more important.

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Thank you for posting this. I have tears running down my cheeks as I contemplate (again) leaving teaching, a job I love and fear at the same time, Love the kids, fear the energy and soul depleting for a lack of respect from the 10% that I deal with 90% of the time.

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Thank you Well said!

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Thank you from a 7th grade teacher/mom who spent this Saturday shuffling her kids to their various games and play Rehearsal toting along the 160 years I could grade next week but want the kids to get feedback while the unit is still in their mind.

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Dear teaching colleagues, I’ve been teaching now for almost 30 years. I still love what I do. I taught elementary, middle, and high school, and coached tennis, and drove buses, and sponsored clubs and more. I can tell you the horror stories, but you already know them. Let me tell you instead just one joy of teaching. A little bit ago, I was diagnosed with cancer requiring surgery, chemo, and radiation. My high schoolers were so supportive! While I was going through chemo, they sent jokes (yes, teenage jokes that were pretty bad but so bad they made me laugh in the midst of the chemo). They were kind to the sub on days I was unable to work. They got to work without being begged or bugged-and this was not a class I’d ‘trained’, since this all happened at the very beginning of the school year. They were just GOOD and KIND and LOVING teenagers. Almost all of my colleagues would agree-scissors over beer, grades over sleep, and-yes, job over family occasionally. I love my teaching career-and while I won’t retire rich, I will retire one day (maybe!) satisfied. The journey has been fulfilling. So when it’s hard, or your friends don’t get it-take a breath, pray for strength, and keep on loving those who desperately need you to help them navigate their way through your class, your grade, your school, and life. It IS worth every moment.

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I want to Commend you for your courageous and heartfelt letter that you chose to write to the guys on the train.
I started working in the DOE this year and teaching 4th grade ELA Literacy. I can not thank you enough for voicing out your opinion to what these people would call themselves MEN. It’s hard enough waking up at 5:30 every morning but add in being a single mother of 2 children with ADHD and you will understand why I am writing to you today. I have 64 students and teaching is one of the most stressful jobs around. You were right on point with the 7 minutes of lunch eating, lesson planning, test grading, the countless hours I have spend between last night staying up till 3 am grading inventory spelling tests and the hours I have spent today preparing to mark report cards.
I find myself at times rethinking my choice in career and then I come across something like what you have written and it all makes sense as to why I chose to become an educator. We are underpaid, we do spend countless number of hours preparing and making sure every child is getting the attention they need. We do spend part of our pay checks for the needs of our classroom and last but not least no matter how emotionally , physically or mentally drained we are, we give our hearts and souls to our students because we are devoted to what we do.
My challenge for these men on the train would be to step into the classroom for one day and walk in your friend Josh’s shoes. I garuntee after just the second period they will not walk but run for their lives. It takes a special person to become an educator, it’s usually the people who are in touch with their sensitive and emotional side. It take PATIENCE OF A SAINT and a deep love for children to be able to educate properly. For every person who feels our day ends at 3:00pm think twice and even a third time. Teaching is a never ending job it consumes you even at the most exhausting of times you still have to be on top of your ball game!
Thank you for sharing this little piece of golden information that may open the eyes of many people who think we have the easiest career ever. KUDOS to your Intelligence and character 👍🏻👍🏻

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My Mom was a high school chemistry teacher growing up and I can vouch for the fact that the work day does not end at 3. Even back then, the hours were long and went way beyond the time spent standing in front of class teaching. I remember sitting with her after dinner until bedtime while I did my homework and she did hers. The difference is I had a couple of hours of free time after school to play and as far as I remember, she didn’t. I remember, even 30 years ago, her being concerned about covering everything she was required to while still tailoring the learning to each class, each student. I think those pressures have only increased over time.
She did not have all summer off, she would take summer tutoring jobs to supplement her income as a Catholic school teacher. I remember every year when the school year started she would come home hoarse and lose her voice by the end of the day until she became accustomed to talking to a class all day again (she’s normally very soft-spoken). I remember her asking my opinion about lesson plans, what would help students learn, what might be confusing, what might make things fun, what she could do to make science “cool”. She has a deep and abiding love of learning and she was very good at passing that on to her students (and me). As a teacher (and single mom of 3) she was always “on” and a very hard worker!
We have a way of equating high pay with hard work in out society. There isn’t really much correlation. There are plenty of low-paid workers out there who work just as hard, usually harder, both physically and mentally, than those with high-paying jobs. I’m not knocking those who work hard and get paid a lot, but instead of looking down on those who’ve chosen a demanding, low-paying profession, it would be better to be thankful there are people willing to do the work for less pay for the benefit of the next generation!

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In terms of you question as to why doctors should make more than a teacher, as a doctor myself I have to say that I’ve completed 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 4 years of residency training before being able to practice independently. While I agree that both teachers and doctors work long, tiresome, and stressful hours, the amount of training one has must factor into their salary. On top of that, most doctors have an enormous amount of medical school debt. Personally, I have nearly $150,000. So even with my salary, I expect to spend many years paying that off.

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I am about to retire after 29 years as a Dramatic, Visual arts and English teacher. I have spent 100s of hours and hours after work and previously on weekends to enrich my programs with the kids.
My good friends – math , spec.ed, caretaking and guidance who have retired recently have either1.couldnt get out of bed for a year or 2.died. Both scenarios are within 1-2 years into their retirement.
The ones who stayed in bed and we’re so burnt out are now ok. My other friends didn’t make it.
We are like elastics stretched out to our max and then when we retire the elastic is gone and we fold limp and useless. We are like octopus following a clock with deadlines and time limits that we organize ourselves till we collapse and all in the making of our future generations. I tell myself everyday that these kids deserve the best because would I want one of them one day be taking care of me, paying taxes for my health care and for our futures?
We have to educate our young so when we are gone they have the smarts to look after themselves and our planet.
Is it worth it? Of course yes, but a teacher has to know when to say No cause you have to look after yourself so you can look after others. But we don’t do it cause of the stress we are under so it’s like walking pneumonia. We arent aware of the turmoil it does to our well being. We are undervalued and disrespected at every turn in the TDSB. We need a system overhaul. We could be the best edicational system in the world but there are some lazy buggers in charge who do not know the grassroots of what is best for everyone. They spend are making useless pipedream decisions.Transparency of budget and integrity for teachers will spill over to the values we can share with the kids. God help us.

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Thank you so much. I want to rage cry. You nailed it perfectly.

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My mother taught 42 years, my father has been a teacher/coach for 46 years and counting. I’ve been a teacher/coach for 15 years. The hours we put in at educators and coaches is extraordinary. My schedule for the last 10 years has been morning weights at 6:30 AM through first period, starting at 9 I teach 6 straight classes, monitor lunch, conference (which is filled with meetings) then after school practice till about 7. By the time the kids are picked up its close to 8, then we have our coaches meeting, usually till 9, then I can go grade papers, lesson plan, print copies, then….I can go home. Usually around 1130 or later. Games nights with road trips I can get home as late as 2 am. This is especially fun on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Then we work Saturday and Sunday to get ready for the next weeks opponent. Another 5 to six hours each day. Then I go to my room, grade some more, do more lesson plans, modifications, etc. Again usually get home around 9pm. Oh and I have to maintain my commercial drivers license and drive the bus to and from games, which I don’t get paid extra for. During the summer I open the weight room, run summer camps, clean the field house, take inventory, order new equipment, inventory that, organize lockers for the next school year, paint, low the fields, the list goes on And on. And you know what? I wouldn’t do anything else in the world. I love my job.. .I love my kids…

We may not make much money, but Damn it we make a difference. I try not to gripe, I love going to work everyday, seeing my kids, watching them group up. It keeps me young. I’d never have it any other way.

The old adage goes “those that can do. Those that can’t teach….mine is different, it goes. ” those that can do, because they were TAUGHT HOW. God Bless you all.

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I’m 57 today and from Canada. Today I too have left behind my lifetime’s work and goals because of the mental sickness trying to “do what is best and right for the children and our society” has left me. our Provincial government has found a way to fund elite private schools of privilege using what few public dollars are available in the budget. $341 million tax dollars while all the public schools must cut, cut, cut, and cut some more. They are not cutting administrative and facilities budgets, rather they cut services to students and health and medical benefits to teachers. Our politicians always get their share + bonus for their “hard work” of lying! While they portray teachers as unaccountable, lazy, unprofessional, lacking knowledge, uncaring, political, generously remunerated, and with 2 months holidays!! The sad truth, for ten years, our teachers gave away wage increases for class size and composition restrictions; we gave up 4 months of complete pay to fight for the students’ rights to psycho-ed, special, needs, early intervention, and ELL services. The government happy announce new money to bring to the table, our money! I tell my family, do not become a teacher. It is heart breaking, moral destroying, and worst of all full of disrespect by those you serve, the parents, the government, and the ignorant people at large. After years of trying to inspire and nurture future great students, seeing how educated adults become so blind to the role of teachers who did care and inspire them once be dealt so disrespectfully in the political arena is heartreaking.

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Ouch. It’s been years since I was an elementary school teacher — it seems like a lifetime ago — but this post hit like a punch. I lasted 3 years in the public school system: 1 year in south FLA, 2 years back in my hometown of Atlanta. Halfway through year-two I knew I wouldn’t make it. I knew I would burn out and become “that” teacher. You know the one: “that” teacher hated the kids, they hated their job and they had essentially given up and were just waiting till retirement. Not every school has one, but mine did, and in a rare case of foresight, I could see that’s who I would become. That was 1996, but I still feel occasional pangs of guilt about giving up — especially now that I have kids of my own. I left the US the following year for 12 months teaching English abroad…and never came back. My views of education have changed a lot since then, but my respect for the teachers trying to make a difference hasn’t changed. I think teachers might even have it worse now in the years since “teaching to the test” began, but I only know what I read. I could be wrong.

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I taught for 14 years in the UK, the last 7 years as Head of Maths. I escaped in the mid-1980’s and worked the rest of my working life self-employed , working with businesses of all kinds. I have 3 comments:

Most manager-level people I have dealt with are not as capable as most teachers I know/have worked with.

What do managerial level people do in their working days? They arrive, deal with their post and emails; they make telephone calls and go to meetings; they write reports and plans. That’s what teachers do between lessons!

If you have not tried to do the job of teaching do not think you have a clue as to how much effort it takes. As for the famous summer break of 6 weeks or so … the first two weeks a good teacher is an exhausted zombie, barely able to get up in the morning. The second two weeks are proper holiday. The final two weeks is spent preparing for the new school year.

I am astonished that so many high quality teachers remain in such an arduous career as long as they do. If you value the future of your society you must value those who help to mould the next generation.

That’s what I think, anyway!

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From a humble teacher’s assistant who makes even less and tried actually teaching for a year: Clarion cry of public ed: “DO MORE WITH LESS, DAMN IT!” Clarion cry of spec public ed, “DO MORE WITH LESS and MAKE IT LOOK GREAT ON PAPER (Oh, and BE AFRAID, BE AFRAID, but DON’T EVER SHOW IT). Clarion call of administrators in public ed, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

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Thank you, Manda. I love my job as a teacher. I’m glad I was able to work in the corporate world prior to teaching. Yes, I work SO much harder and MANY more hours than I did. I can’t go to the bathroom when I want or give myself a short break during the day, but it’s okay because I love my kiddos and I know I make a difference in their lives on a daily basis. They will hopefully always remember that I am in their corner and want the very best for them. I hope they will always be their best version of themselves, at least in part because of the time we spent learning, working, and laughing together. Critics will be critics, many jobs are hard, and I am so thankful and proud and humbled to be a teacher.

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I have been a teacher in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) for three years and although the hours are long and the job is hard, I have never considered leaving. The difference being, in Canada we are fairly compensated for our work and our public school system is successful and pleasant (for the most part) to work for. In most cities, there are very few private schools because the public system is very good. My starting salary was way above the average wage for Canadians ($50 000/year) and I feel that I make a fair wage for the amount of work I do. Hopefully things can eventually be fixed for you, and you can also be fairly compensated for your work, I would not be able to do the same job for half the money!

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Teaching: the only profession in the world where you end up stealing office supplies from home and taking them to work. If you don’t get the “joke” then you haven’t been paying attention to budget cuts for school districts.

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I was a teacher. My mother was a country school teacher in a one room school house. She taught children of farmers, so that during harvest time the boys couldn’t come to school because their help help was needed in the fields. Some of the boys were almost as old as SHE was and considerably bigger. Two of my four daughters are elementary teachers in the school they attended as children.
No one has to tell ME how hard teachers work….just for the love of it.

Jnaet Couchot

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I am working a non teaching job for the first time. I can’t believe how much energy I have at the end of a day. I can have a conversation and prepare a meal without struggling to stay on my feet.

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Jennifer, I totally get that! Glad you’re not drained at the end of each day anymore. 🙂

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Wow–so absolutely true. I’m where you are when you quit.

Do you have any advice on where to look for positions for a post-teaching career?

I know I have such a wide variety of skills, acquired from teaching, but don’t know where to start with looking…I’m definitely ready to make the leap though.

Thank you for the further inspiration!

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Hi Heather,
When I resigned from teaching, I created a resume that highlighted my work ethic, drive, and any skills I thought would be exemplary in the different fields I was applying for jobs in. It depends on what you’re looking for, but I believe you can do it! Best of luck. 🙂

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I’m a junior high English teacher. I keep wondering what would happen if teachers stopped working overtime to prop up an impossible system. We are paid to teach 195 kids every day but not to prep the “event” we put on, and not to assess that event. As a result, the only reason the system succeeds at all is because teachers don’t stop working until they know everything will happen for their students that needs to happen, so everyone outside the profession thinks it’s easier than it honestly is. It’s our own fault for making it look easy. If we all just stopped rescuing the system, and let it fail the way it is set up to fail, I wonder if the needed redefinition of what schools can and can’t do would occur. We’re facing a massive teacher shortage in our state because only a third as many students are studying to be teachers as there were in 2006 (even before the Great Recession). The only response our legislature has is to hire people without any training to teach. I keep hoping after a decade of giving the kids back to their parents and the state because there simply is no one to put in the classroom to warehouse them, we will finally get it right. I just keep wondering what we’ll have to go through before it happens. Hopefully, this will be my last year in the classroom because I’m halfway through training for a different job. I’m scared to be here when it all falls apart.

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Hi Amanda, I’m not normally a commenter on posts like these (or any posts for that matter!) but I just had to let you know that I so appreciate your point of view! I’m a relatively new teacher up in Canada and often feel under appreciated. It feels strange to say that because I didn’t go into teaching for pats on the back or thank you’s but to be called a glorified babysitter, or to be told that I get so much time off that I’m not allowed to complain about anything really rubs me the wrong way after hearing it for years. To hear someone standing up for teachers in the way that you just did gives me hope; hope that people will slowly understand just what it takes to do what we do.

Thank you!

p.s- keep living for Christ! He is all we need!

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Thank you, thank you! I retired after teaching 34 years as an elementary teacher and I loved it as much my last day before I retired as much as I did the first day I started. Good teachers have to have a passion for what they do and no one understands that more than a fellow teacher!