As an aspiring teacher, I follow a lot of real life teachers on social media. Many of them share photos of their classroom, videos of their lessons, and fun DIY ideas for other teachers to use. Their TikToks, Instagrams, and Twitters used to be so positive and enjoyable to follow, until recently when I noticed a sudden shift in their outlook on being a teacher. Specifically on TikTok, I have seen countless videos of teachers feeling miserable and burnt out, when it’s only the beginning half of the school year. Many of them interact in the comment sections agreeing with one another on how hard it’s been for them, how they cope with the stress, and how they don’t know how they can continue. I have also seen many teachers resign from their once loved profession. In all honesty, these videos and posts have been scaring me a bit, as I will be applying for teaching jobs once I graduate with my masters in 2023. I often wonder, will I hate being a teacher after all? Although I know everyone’s teaching experience is different, it is still something that worries me. Here are some of the reasons why teaching is extremely difficult right now:
The Pandemic and COVID Precautions
It is no question that COVID-19 has affected literally every aspect of life. It has changed the way we interact with each other, made us evaluate the trust we have in our government, and has overworked countless workers in various fields. Sadly, many COVID-19 “controversies” (which shouldn’t even be controversial in the first place) have affected the school environment. Should students be vaccinated? Should teachers be vaccinated? Should schools mandate the vaccine? Should everyone in the school be wearing masks? Should masks be optional? Should students sit 6 feet apart? These are the types of questions that school districts have been working with and focusing on since the pandemic started and the vaccine became available. Every school district wants to have the safest school and form of education possible for students and faculty. However, in some cases, parents don’t agree with what the school district decides, causing uproars at school board meetings and protesting the school district. Their frustration on these decisions is intended to be towards the state or individual school, but sadly targets teachers and their teaching experience.
Effects of Remote Learning
COVID forced schools to go completely remote for a long period of time starting in March 2020. Teachers prepared and held their classes virtually, while students had their cameras turned off and slept through it. Students lost their desire to learn during virtual learning. As a student who experienced remote learning, I can say that it is highly ineffective. I found myself teaching myself the curriculum and hoping for the best, since online lectures failed to engage the class in active learning. However, I did participate in the class as much as I could, as a courtesy to the professor and their efforts. Furthermore, the eventual transition back to in person classes was a nightmare. Taking your classes on a computer for over a year makes you completely forget how to fully prepare for an in person college course. Thankfully, being a senior in college, I was able to transition back to in person classes over time. But other younger age groups, specifically elementary and middle schoolers, basically skipped 2 years of school, making it hard for them to transition back. They didn’t receive the proper discipline, organization skills, conditioning, or maturing during virtual learning that they normally would have pre-pandemic. This causes a major problem in their behavior that teachers are now forced to deal with, on top of teaching their students curriculum.
The salaries of teachers have been a disappointing reality for years. USA Today writes, “Public high school teachers in the United States earned approximately 19.2% less than other college-educated workers” (Yes, teachers are underpaid. here’s how much high school teachers are underpaid in each state, 2020). Although this statistic only includes adolescent teachers, childhood teachers are also underpaid. Seeing statistics like this are very disheartening and discouraging for current and aspiring teachers, especially after a global pandemic. However, some people believe that teachers are paid enough for what they do, regardless of these statistics. Many people think that since teachers get a summer vacation, their job must be extremely easy and their salary should reflect that. I would love for these people to successfully teach and manage a classroom of 30-35 (yeah, classrooms are constantly over capacity) second graders, some with IEPs, and some ESL students, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 days a week. Better yet, these individuals can feel free to home school their own children since teaching must be so “easy”. Teaching is not easy, especially during a global pandemic, and it shouldn’t be constantly dismissed by people. Yes, the benefits and vacation time for teachers is a nice perk to the profession. But teachers don’t solely rely on just the benefits and vacation. They need a reasonable and justified salary for their efforts and hard work. Teachers deal with difficult students, experience the pressures from parents and administration, are required to differentiate their lessons for each student’s need, and face other obstacles that many don’t even think about. If you would like to learn more about the reality of teaching, I highly recommend @mrkylecohen on TikTok.
Lack of Administrative Support
I truly think that this is the biggest reason why many teachers today either hate their job or leave. In many of the “quitting TikToks” I have seen, teachers eventually share their reasonings on why they’ve decided to quit. A common reason that these teachers give is the lack of support from their administration. The role of an administration is to ensure that each school in their district runs smoothly and effectively. They are in charge of academic records, budgets, contracts, legal issues, staff management, and other administrative tasks. They also monitor the way teachers are teaching curriculum through observations and staff meetings. It is imperative that administrations are transparent and honest with their faculty, while also constantly listening to the ideas and needs of their staff. If an administration constantly critiques their teachers’ work or makes drastic changes in the school, it could be difficult for a teacher to feel supported and appreciated. Overall, the administration constructs the conditions and the tone of the school. They should make their schools a healthy, expressive, and sincere environment for both their faculty and their students.
If you’re not on any social media, the recurrent news of teacher and substitute shortages throughout newspapers and T.V. should make it clear that there is currently an ongoing problem in the education system. School districts and administrations need to listen to their faculty, and use this current problem as a lesson to do better in the coming years. Society also needs to start respecting teachers and what they do. If we lose all of our great teachers, students will be left with a damaged form of education, or no form of education at all.
- Frohlich, T. C. (2020, September 29). Yes, teachers are underpaid. here’s how much high school teachers are underpaid in each State. USA Today. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/09/29/states-with-the-most-underpaid-teachers/42699495/.