Teaching #101: Teaching is hard…

Yeah, I know. A lot of things are hard. Look, I am a product of the 90s. This was the Grunge Era; the time to learn that Global Warming was killing the planet, and AIDS was affecting everyone. My school set three entire school days aside to teach us about AIDS. That’s how intense it was. I also remember being in class in 8th grade and they brought a financial advisor in to let us know we would not be getting Social Security because of the Baby Boomer generation, so we better figure out how to manage our money for retirement now.

I also know what hard means because of my dad. My blue-collar, Naval Ship Yard dad worked seven days a week from the time he graduated from high school until the Ship Yard closed down and he was rerouted to mechanist at the US Postal Service facility.

So here’s what I mean when I say teaching is hard. Right now, there is a nationwide teacher shortage. Fewer and fewer students are even majoring in education every year. Personally, I have seen quite a few student teachers quit midway through their time because, and I quote, “They did not realize teaching was this hard.” They had already made it through four years of coursework and spent thousands of dollars, and they were pivoting in their career choice after three weeks in an actual classroom. Why? Because teaching is hard.

Gone are the days when you could safely say, “Those who can’t, teach.” This was my father’s joke when I told him I was going back to grad school to become a teacher. He hates teachers, by the way. Most people, it seems, hate teachers. And most teachers, nowadays, hate teaching. Maybe they hate it because it’s hard, but I think the answer is much more complicated than that. It’s hard and it is no longer as rewarding as it may have been.

Parents are dissatisfied and have expectations for public education that it can’t possibly sustain in its current state. Teachers are dissatisfied because they have to beg, borrow, steal, fight, and claw to get supplies, advocate for kids, and be trained in the right programs. Administrators are dissatisfied because they are in the middle of those two factions and they also have the tremendous responsibility of keeping this all afloat for the good of our students.

As I said, teaching is hard.

There was a student teacher here during COVID times. He sat at our lunch table every day. One day, I said, “You’re insane getting into this profession. You should do something, anything else.”

I know, I know. It was super negative, but if you read my previous posts I wrote during COVID, you will understand why I said that.

Anyway, one of my colleagues hit my arm, and said, “Don’t say that. That’s terrible.”

“It’s true,” I answered. “Seriously, man. I’ve been here for twenty years. If you don’t listen, you are going to remember my face saying these words, and you are going to regret not listening.”

The table of seasoned teachers admonished me, and they were right to do so, but I sometimes think about that student-teacher because if you want to know the truth, I don’t regret what I said. If my saying that was enough to scare him out of teaching, he doesn’t belong here. If he doesn’t understand that teaching is really hard and it expects a lot out of you, then he should get out now because, in the end, he isn’t doing much of anything at all.

Love and Light, All.