The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

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This piece was inspired by a heated discussion I had with a man who believes that teachers have an easy job. Please feel free to share it with others if you agree with the message.

I used to be a molecular biologist. I spent my days culturing viruses. Sometimes, my experiments would fail miserably, and I’d swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances would ask how my work was going. I’d explain how I was having a difficult time cloning this one gene. I couldn’t seem to figure out the exact recipe to use for my cloning cocktail.

Acquaintances would sigh sympathetically. And they’d say, “I know you’ll figure it out. I have faith in you.”

And then, they’d tilt their heads in a show of respect for my skills….

Today, I’m a high school teacher. I spend my days culturing teenagers. Sometimes, my students get disruptive, and I swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances ask me how my work is going. I explain how I’m having a difficult time with a certain kid. I can’t seem to get him to pay attention in class.

Acquaintances smirk knowingly. And they say, “well, have you tried making it fun for the kids? That’s how you get through to them, you know?”

And then, they explain to me how I should do my job….

I realize now how little respect teachers get. Teaching is the toughest job everyone who’s never done it thinks they can do. I admit, I was guilty of these delusions myself. When I decided to make the switch from “doing” science to “teaching” science, I found out that I had to go back to school to get a teaching credential.

“What the f—?!?,” I screamed to any friends willing to put up with my griping. “I have a Ph.D.! Why do I need to go back to get a lousy teaching credential?!?”

I was baffled. How could I, with my advanced degree in biology, not be qualified to teach biology?!

Well, those school administrators were a stubborn bunch. I simply couldn’t get a job without a credential. And so, I begrudgingly enrolled in a secondary teaching credential program.

And boy, were my eyes opened. I understand now.

Teaching isn’t just “making it fun” for the kids. Teaching isn’t just academic content.

Teaching is understanding how the human brain processes information and preparing lessons with this understanding in mind.

Teaching is simultaneously instilling in a child the belief that she can accomplish anything she wants while admonishing her for producing shoddy work.

Teaching is understanding both the psychology and the physiology behind the changes the adolescent mind goes through.

Teaching is convincing a defiant teenager that the work he sees no value in does serve a greater purpose in preparing him for the rest of his life.

Teaching is offering a sympathetic ear while maintaining a stern voice.

Teaching is being both a role model and a mentor to someone who may have neither at home, and may not be looking for either.

Teaching is not easy. Teaching is not intuitive. Teaching is not something that anyone can figure out on their own. Education researchers spend lifetimes developing effective new teaching methods. Teaching takes hard work and constant training. I understand now.

Have you ever watched professional athletes and gawked at how easy they make it look? Kobe Bryant weaves through five opposing players, sinking the ball into the basket without even glancing in its direction. Brett Favre spirals a football 100 feet through the air, landing it in the arms of a teammate running at full speed. Does anyone have any delusions that they can do what Kobe and Brett do?

Yet, people have delusions that anyone can do what the typical teacher does on a typical day.

Maybe the problem is tangibility. Shooting a basketball isn’t easy, but it’s easy to measure how good someone is at shooting a basketball. Throwing a football isn’t easy, but it’s easy to measure how good someone is at throwing a football. Similarly, diagnosing illnesses isn’t easy to do, but it’s easy to measure. Winning court cases isn’t easy to do, but it’s easy to measure. Creating and designing technology isn’t easy to do, but it’s easy to measure.

Inspiring kids? Inspiring kids can be downright damned near close to impossible sometimes. And… it’s downright damned near close to impossible to measure. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s test scores. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s grades. You measure inspiration 25 years later when that hot-shot doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur thanks her fourth-grade teacher for having faith in her and encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

Maybe that’s why teachers get so little respect. It’s hard to respect a skill that is so hard to quantify.

So, maybe you just have to take our word for it. The next time you walk into a classroom, and you see the teacher calmly presiding over a room full of kids, all actively engaged in the lesson, realize that it’s not because the job is easy. It’s because we make it look easy. And because we work our asses off to make it look easy.

And, yes, we make it fun, too.

Addendum, 11/18/2013

Based on some of the commentary I’ve seen, I would like to clarify one point: For the record, I never said that teaching is the hardest job. I said that teaching is the hardest job everyone thinks they can do. The title is intentionally vague (and yes, somewhat hyperbolic), but I spend the entire post clarifying what I mean by it. At no point do I complain or claim that teaching is harder than any other job out there. If your comment is something to the effect of how hard your job is, and how teachers therefore need to stop whining, then you probably didn’t actually read the post.

If you’re going to respond, I think you at least owe me the courtesy of reading first, yeah?

Addendum, 6/30/2015

Since this post still gets so many likes and shares (thanks, everyone!), I decided it would be fun to create a custom domain for it. So, if you’re ever talking to someone in real life and want to refer to this post, just tell them to go to And then they can find out just how hard teaching really is. 🙂

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  • Amen!!! I was a social worker before I became a teacher. I had more respect from parents even when I was counseling them on how to be better parents than I do as their child’s teacher trying to get them to see the importance for reading. Keep calm and teach on!!!

  • I’ve held a skilled job for over 18 years and recently began to teach this skill. This has been one of the hardest transitions in my career that I have ever experienced. I have always had profound respect for teachers, but now being in their shoes, their dedication has brought about a whole new perspective.

    • I am a teacher of 18 years, I am a parent for over 14 years, I was a student for 23 years and continue to go to classes. Teaching is what I chose to do because I was free to do it. Everyone has the choice to be what they want to be. I have had to work very hard and many hours to be the effective teacher I believe I am. I am grateful for what I have and I choose to work hard in order to not let down my students nor my family who believe in me. I tell my students, some day when you grow into the successful person I know you will be, you will look back and say Thank you to all the teachers that believed in you! Teachers are people too, so if I can only get one wish granted, it would be for people to stop talking and insulting teachers because they are frustrated with how their government has caused our school system to turn into a business instead of a safe place for our children to build their foundation. Again, teachers are people who just want to do their job to the best of our ability and go home everyday to their family and feel good about what they did for that day!

  • Thank you for this amazing story.. It touched my heart..
    I am a licensed educator teaching children 3-5 years.. It is both exciting and challenging at times.. My passion for children helps me remember this when they are acting out.. “what needs are not being met”.. Sometimes you feel like a detective.. Home, peers, hunger, not enough sleep, the list is endless.. Sometimes they just need to be hugged..
    Thank you for being a great teacher!!
    We need more of you..
    Annie Erickson, ECE I/T SNE
    Songhees Early Learning and Education Centre
    Victoria BC

  • This is why I have always demanded that my 14 year old son show his teachers the utmost respect. I have the most respect for teachers because I have always realized that it takes a lot to deal with other peoples kids. I could not do what a teacher does by along shot. I do not understand why teachers are expected to do so much but are given so little respect. How can you not respect the person that is teaching your child knowledge that is needed for them to function in life? I know so many parents that blame the teachers every time their child fails but yet they never sit down with their kids or never push them to study more at home and Facebook less. I love and respect teachers and tip my hat to them. I give my son’s teachers 110% support and never give them excuses or a hard time if my son gets a bad grade. The more cooperation you give your child’s teacher the better his/her learning experience will be.

  • I taught for ten years and worked outside education for another 25. Teaching CAN be intuitive. Just as Kobe Bryant has great talent for what he does, some are born with great talent to teach.

    I don’t see teachers being under-appreciated. Teachers get a lot more thank you notes and gifts than the average dental hygienist or accountant.

    I don’t see the hard, hard work and the long, long hours. My teaching day was about six hours, with about 13 weeks vacation. Outside teaching, it’s nine hour days and two weeks vacation. A teacher’s pressure and deadlines don’t compare to an accountant during tax season, a toy designer before Christmas, or an aerospace engineer with a once-every-two years window to send a mission to Mars.

    If everyone thinks they know your job because your results can’t be measured, how do you know you’re doing a good job? You can’t measure your own results.

    Yes, professional educators research new teaching methods. But, where are the improvements that CAN be measured? Our 50 minute class periods were changed to 90 minute periods. Three years later, they were changed back to 50 minutes. No one saw any difference one way or the other.

    Maybe teaching is harder than some purely academic pursuit that has no deadline, but it’s a lot easier than most jobs. any teacher who thinks he or she is overworked should visit the work world of long days and looming deadlines,

    • Josh if you only put in about 6 hours a day, and didn’t do anything outside of school or on weekend, I am glad you did leave the profession.

    • Josh, please do not compare teachers to other professionals in such a condescending manner… it’s insulting. I, too, spent 25 years in industry, THEN I went to work as a teacher. The work was harder, but ten times more rewarding. Maybe that was because I honestly cared about my students. As for difficulty, there will always be jobs that are harder than others; I would not want to wash the outside of skyscraper windows, but how do you compare that to NASA scientists or even garbage collectors? Every occupation, if done well, is something to be proud of. Except teaching, right, Josh?

      The fact that you left teaching for industry after only ten years says a lot about your true values. If working in education was such a great deal, why did you leave it?

    • I’m sorry if I offend You, but You really sound lazy and disinterested in teaching. Those “skills” would make you a bad employee in any profession.

  • I agree Josh. I am 73 yrs. old and have met only a few teachers, less than 10, who have the intellect of a science or math professional. Most go into teaching because it is the only 4 year college degree that they are qualified to earn. I knew a few in college that started out in chemistry but changed to education because the chemistry curriculum was too difficult for them. Some teachers are very talented at teaching but let us not put them on a pedestal or give them more credit than they deserve. I would hate being a teacher as much as I would dislike being a parole officer, salesperson, police officer, or many other jobs and I approve the ones who choose these jobs but they are not special.

    • Josh by your post you haven’t been in a classroom in at least 25 years, and Judy, since you are 73, if you went to college after high school I would estimate that the few you knew in college that couldn’t hack Chemistry and went into teaching occurred at least 50 years ago. Thinks have changed drastically in education in the past decade. I worked in clinical laboratory medicine for 14 years, then after earning my masters and teaching credentials taught high school science for the past 16 years. Each year got progressively harder. 6 hour days? I would get up at 5, get home at 5, and still would have several yours of work to do before bedtime, which was never before 11. No leasurely lunches of the busines world, but 25 minutes, because the other 25 minutes were “encumbered” with either lunch duty or tutoring. Pressure to let students repeat tests and quizzes so that no one would fail. Mounds of paperwork and phone calls to make, so that lesson planning and grading papers had to be done after school. Summers are great, no doubt, but most summers teachers take graduate courses, often at their own expense, to keep their certification. They attend district workshops and mandatory meetings to keep abreast of changes in their field. And they work on their own so they can hit the ground running when the new year begins. I left public high school to teach at the college level. I have met 3 other like minded souls in my new place of employment, and we all realize how good we have it, and know that others here think their job is hard. They just don’t know. As one former high school teacher now college instructor said “this job is like being semi-retired compared to teaching high school”. When I worked in the medical field, the job was demanding, but at the end of my shift I was done, someone else took over. For a good teacher, there is never an end to the work.

    • Judy, your comment is highly offensive to me, “…less than 10, who have the intellect of a science or math professional.” I am 27 years old, been teaching for 4 years, tutored levels K-12 in all subjects (usually with three students working on different grade level and subject work at a time), and hold a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasis on mathematics. I am four classes away from having a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and will be going for my master’s in mathematics next year. I maintained and graduated with a 4.0 from college, something not all of these science and math professionals can say. I understand that I may be in the minority as far as what areas of study teachers are seeking higher level degrees in, but there are definitely more than you speak of out there like me. The mentality that teachers are not intelligent is just another example of how little we are thought of.

      All of that aside, can these science and math professionals you speak of teach their craft? That is what the intent of the original blog was about, correct? Just because someone is very knowledgeable in an area of study, does not make them suitable to teach it.

    • Judy, thankfully, those days are long gone. Most teachers now have a degree in the field they want to teach, not a simple “education” degree. Most of us also have Master’s Degrees. I have a BS in Geology, and an MS in Science Education that was all courses in advanced sciences, except for the 4 courses in educational research methodology which led us through the process of actually doing a research study on our own students to see if our new approach had any impact on student learning. So, my MS may say “science education”, but it really should say “Science AND education”. Now that all that is said, I can tell you that my IQ is 142 (or was, when it was measured when I was in elementary school in 1978). I had nearly a full scholarship to college, and could have easily chosen to be a professional geologist making a LOT more money than a teacher. I truly despise those who think that teachers only teach because they can’t DO. That’s a load of cow dung. I’ve taught grades 7-12, middle school science to high school, since 1993, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Truthfully, it took me a while to become a REALLY good teacher. I was an OK teacher at first, but when I started putting my students first, and not the subject matter, the kids responded. I adore being around 135+ teenagers every day that I teach, and the other 1100 in the building, many of whom I taught previously. I will never know how many of them remember me when they are older. I will never know how many of them decide to become scientists or doctors or other STEM careers because they learned to love science in my classroom. But I know that some will. And the rest will at least have had someone MORE THAN COMPETENT from whom to learn science. And I teach real science, not pseudo science garbage. I am one of 13 science teachers in my building, and I’m one of 3 that actually went to school to become a science teacher, rather than coming into teaching from another career. But I can tell you that those who came from other careers did so not because they couldn’t “DO” their other career, but because they find that teaching has rewards far beyond money. Do I want to be put on a pedestal or given too much credit? NO – I want to be given credit for the damned hard job I do, and not have others who are old enough to know better look down on me.

    • “No leasurely [sic] lunches of the busines [sic] world”

      Is this a joke? I eat at my desk while I’m working, just like everyone else in my company.

  • As a former “scientist ” now science teacher, I oils not have said it better. No schooling can totally prepare you for the role you play in your student’s lives

    • Thanks for this article. I’m. A 5th grade teacher in my 17th year in an urban district. I switched careers and left an unsatisfying career in finance. In my younger years I worked as a landscaper, dish washer, construction cement laborer, waiter & as a house painter. None of these jobs demanded more of my mental, physical & emotional energy than teaching does! Not even close. I stay in the classroom because I care for my students and realized it is the most effective way to contribute to the success of our society’s youth. When people question or demean our profession, I now simply tell them to put up or shut up!

  • Teaching is easy. Keeping kids motivated to learn when they don’t have the desire to succeed is the challenge. Especially when a room full of kids may have a variety of personalities and learning styles. In an effort to keep the whole classroom learning at the same rate, it usually winds up holding the brighter students back while still not giving the slower students the attention they need. The result is almost always scrutiny from parents as few students are learning at the rate they are capable of.

  • I totally agree. I was a few weeks from my teaching credential and quit. I realized it was easy too much job for the money. In the late 70s a beginning teacher and a beginning secretary made the same money but a secretary didn’t have work to do at home all the time. Teachers aren’t in it for the money.

  • The question now is WHO WILL TEACH? I’m not sure that the statistic that 50% of new teachers will leave the profession in the first five years is completely reliable or current, but I know that my school has had trouble attracting and retaining qualified teachers (I teach in Montana). Right now I have a student teacher who has a chemistry degree and a degree in Chemistry Education and I wonder if she will ever teach at all. She is having a good experience and has the potential to be a very good teacher, but she also has a chance a line on an industrial job.
    I enjoyed reading all of these comments even the ones that “challenged” me (intellect, martyr). The one thing I can add is the measurement of success I can make for myself. I count the engineers, pharmacists, vets, biologists, and teachers that I taught as my marks of success. I know they could have done those things without my influence, but many say I did influence their career choices.

  • If it’s so easy why doesn’t everyone do it? I taught for 35 years and every time someone told me how easy my job was, how overpaid I was I simply said,”come in for a week and teach them something, anything you want. Never had a taker.

    • Because most people don’t give a good goddamn what is happening in schools, and they sure as shit don’t have any intention of making it better…like people who ask STUPID QUESTIONS LIKE THIS!

    • “If it’s so easy why doesn’t’t everyone do it?” Because it doesn’t pay well.
      In the future I will be looking for a way to teach young children basic coding skills once i am much better at it myself. But only as a guest speaker or something, not willing to get credentials for it.

    • I disagree.

      I am an electrical engineer, and I have also worked as a teacher in quite a few different occasions in universities and when I was a student. While I do agree teaching is much harder than people make it out to be, the truth is that I CAN do it. Regardless of whether my profession is harder or not, a teacher cannot do my job, yet vise versa is possible.

    • It is interesting that in an article about teaching kids you get a response about teaching at a University. Though I do not doubt people from other careers could teach High School or Elementary school, I do find that stating that you have taught at a University, where people choose to be, is likened at all to teaching students who must go to school by law a fascinating stretch. It is also demonstrative of the attitude we teachers understand all too well. My path: Biological Scientist to High School (Physics, Biology, repeat Biology, Chemistry, H. Chemistry, Physical Science, Earth Science+ a stent at a community college teaching Chem, Genetics, Cooking(basic Chem), Crime Lab, ACT Prep). By the way, nothing in Teacher Prep covered how to conduct a chem lab using a bunsen or meker burner in a mixed ability overcrowded classroom. But I will say this…if you have the gift of teaching, you and a book can teach almost anything because you are skilled in breaking down information and then building it up one block at a time. I will add …it is the hardest job others think they can do or think they have done. Not that they couldn’t, but you do not know until you have the responsibility of planning, teaching, and of course dealing with the work that has nothing to do with your classroom.

  • I find this post fascinating, to say the least. I have been very fortunate to have been able to teach high school percussion part time for the last 14 years. Even more fortunate that I have been able to do so without the years of schooling it takes to be a full time teacher, and I have come to realize, especially in the last 5 years that I really do have a passion for teaching. So I guess my question its this: Is it worth it? I’m very lucky right now in that what I teach outs highly specialized and it requires a fraction of the planning of as full time teacher and I also have a very small amount off interaction with parents, which I like. I always thought that being a band director would come with a ton of extra baggage with all the administrative type work that they do. So, I’ll ask one more time teachers: I hate my retail gig, I love music, and I’m passionate about helping kids grow as musicians and as young adults. It’s it worth it?

    • Teaching music is absolutely worth it. But believe me music school isn’t a walk in the part. Without a good foundation in theory and piano you’ll be working your tail off. Worth every bit of it though.

    • Having taught middle and high school for 10 years and now sitting on bed rest waiting for my first child to arrive, I find myself asking this same question. I think the answer is that it is absolutely worth it in the grand scheme — teacher do make a difference in the world every day (even on the worst of them). However, on the small scale of one teacher’s life, it takes its toll. The stress, the hours, the heartache…teaching is an extreme form of selflessness. I’ve come to believe that some periods in one’s life maybe can’t accommodate both being an excellent teacher and living a healthy, full life beyond school. The people who seem to do both I think are actually paying a high personal price while making the whole thing look easy.

    • My husband and I taught 40 years and I still sub. Yes, it is worth it and students who are a pain in hs can turn out to be your most grateful students. Go for it…you will love it.

    • I have just retired from teaching after 24 years. Teaching is absolutely worth the effort. Working with students is challenging, the bureaucracy is ridiculous, and now, with Common Core being imposed in many places, I CANNOT ENCOURAGE ANYONE TO BECOME A TEACHER ANYMORE. If “teaching” was what it was even five years ago, I would say become a teacher, but not today.

    • A big resounding YES. I was in the education field for 37 years and loved every minute of it. I agree it is not easy but who wants to do a job that is easy and boring? Kids are wonderful; it is the parents and critics who are annoying. People love to throw up to you that you have lots of time off. They don’t see all the work that we do after the work day is over. The nights we have to stay up late to mark work or do out report cards are never mentioned. Maybe people don’t know as much about teaching as they think they do.

  • Amen, Amen, AMEN! If my dad tells me one more time that I get holidays and summers off so not to complain about having a hard day at school I’m going to scream!! He wouldn’t last a day with my 7th graders! I love my job but it is NOT easy and I hate that we get overlooked and undermined all the dang time!

    • My dad used to say the same thing…until I lived with my folks between leases. At the end of the month or 2, he said, ” you deserve every second of your summers off.”

    • Keep pushing through. My MIL teaches high school students at an alternative school. Not really sure they still call it that, but she deserves the break over the summer. Teachers are amazing people.

    • I’m currently a medical student, but between undergrad & med school I spent the better part of a year teaching English to Creole high school kids in the French Caribbean. I had a lot of unique challenges, such as the language barrier & the completely different teaching system (students respect their teachers way, way, way less than in the US & there’s no way to punish them). However, I will say teaching was more difficult than I thought! It’s like if someone said, “Go learn everything about the brain!” and gave you no direction. It’s really the lesson planning that’s the most difficult part! It’s hard to determine WHAT information to present and HOW to present it.

    • What I don’t think people realize is that teachers pay is pro rated, so they aren’t actually getting paid for doing nothing all summer. And most teachers I know have to work all summer to get by. My husband is a special ed teacher, student council adviser, tennis coach, and he teaches summer school all so he can support our family.

  • Amen!!! Really appreciate reading this…children aren’t assembly line products. Wish our legislators could understand this simple concept.

  • Scott, I also teach music. Do not kid yourself, it is a LOT of work. I am ALWAYS the first person at school and the last person to leave. Between preparing for honor choirs, auditions, festival competition, fundraisers, tours, practice cd’s, and all the lessons that come with it, there is WAY more time put into preparing my music classroom than anyone can even begin to imagine. If you are in it for the right reasons, you will put in the necessary time and work with no hesitation. Always, always put your students first.

  • What you’re describing is a good teacher. Unfortunately, adults (myself included) are way more likely to remember our bad teachers. And there are a lot of them, including some who are effective at teaching the material yet are mean, rude, unfair, condescending, or otherwise. So it’s a little hard to get behind the “teachers are saints” movement when mostly what you remember is the times these people have treated you poorly or unfairly or were terrible at their jobs. Good teachers are great. However, many, many teachers are not good teachers.

    • Jane, there are bad people in ALL professions. Everyone makes mistakes. Forgive them and move on:) Don’t hold grudges.

  • The most under appreciated job? I’m getting deployed to Afghanistan, making $13 an hour, probably going to get blown up by an IED or shot by some insurgent just so teachers have the freedom to complain on the internet about how hard it is to teach 7th grade science. So if you want to, I could take your teaching job for you, sit in a cozy air conditioned classroom, and hand you a helmet and an m16 so you can go to combat and watch all YOUR friends die.

    • You man the fuck up!

      Wow… you have issues! You just make honorable military men and women look bad! Your comment was pointless and stupid to say the least! But you want to play that game? alright! First of all, no one asked you to sign up ! If anyone should man up buddy…. it’s YOU! Yes, you! For signing up for something you are going to cry about and use to whine about on forums! Leave the job for men and women that will live up to it and that actually care! Hot headed losers like you don’t deserve to walk around in uniform.

    • Sandra Franklin Van Valkenburg

      I didn’t realize it had to be us against you. Do you show the same disdain for veterans who are now NJROTC teachers? I have always been an avid supporter of our ROTC program and am grateful that our former military instructors aren’t as judgmental as you seem to be. I think it is terrible that you only make $13 an hour but I can think both of us deserve more money and respect. For the record, while it is nowhere near as hot as Afghanistan, I don’t have air conditioning in my classroom and if you have read any research about heat and tempers, you would really see how that can impact a classroom as well.

    • Man the Fuck Up: If you feel under-appreciated, if you feel you got a rotten deal, if you lost your buddies, I’m really sorry, and I wish you lots and lots of healing. But please don’t take it out on teachers. There’s a whole lot of support for veterans in this country, and if you can’t hear people express that appreciation, maybe you need to open your ears and let it into your heart.

    • He signed up, yeah, but, to be fair, so did teachers. So that argument cancels out.

    • sad about pity party

      yea, we all signed up to do what we do, but he is the one inserting his ridiculous attitude into by attacking teachers and comparing the two jobs.
      But ya know what, being a teacher is a job that you can pick. Knowing that you are going to be sent to hostile territory to possibly die….that’s that guys OWN FAULT. there is no draft going on, he can choose to go to college, or work at McDonald’s. do something else bro instead of keeping people from having their fair share at things.

      Besides, I feel nothing but compassion for the armed forces, but not for individuals who think they deserve a federal pity party. jeez…

    • Someone isn’t paying attention to the title of the article. It’s “The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do”, not “The Hardest Job.” There is a qualifier in there, but there I go–teaching again.

    • My wife is a teacher, I’ve watched what she does for 10 years. I work at the school myself so I know what they do. I have to agree with “man the fuck up”. To be so bold as to claim it’s the “The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do” just isn’t fair to others. I was in construction for 20 years, having to use a portable toilet in temperatures below 0 or over 90. I’ve had times in the winter and summer with a shovel for 8 hours a day for weeks on end… Treated like crap because you can be replaced by someone younger… After 17 years as an electrician I was making $18 an hour… Yet you would not have a building to teach in without me, no electricity for lights, computers, overhead projectors and so on, yet I make around $30,000 and year watching the teachers in public schools making over $90,000 (with the same 20 years in).
      AND STILL, “man the fuck up” does a job I would not want to do, and I respect him for it and know that it’s harder than teaching.
      But I haven’t forgotten that neither him nor I would be where we are without teachers, so, we all have tough jobs and we all need each other, and I will not say you have it harder, just different……

    • Quit whining Gomer

      The truth is that virtually every one of us could be a soldier. We have, in the past, drafted individuals to don that helmet, shoulder that M16, and go to combat to “watch all their friends die”. We didn’t require genius or even much intelligence. We required people who were relatively physically fit, and who could follow orders. And they did pretty well, although it is a shame that we put them in harm’s way for what often amounts to no good reason.

      There are currently 1.5 million active duty soldiers in the US military. There are 54,000 troops in Afghanistan. It’s sad that you won the lottery by being one of the 3% of US active duty soldiers who is serving in Afghanistan, but isn’t that the chance you took when enlisting?

      If you had paid attention in school, you might have learned that what you’re employing in your argument are a number of fallacies. The first is the fallacy of equivocation– conflating things which are emotionally hard (watching your friends die) and physically hard (serving in a third world country with the accompanying discomforts, shouldering a 60-lb pack, etc) with things which are intellectually hard (getting a roomful of students to pay attention and get value out of a lesson). The second and third: the appeal to pity and the fallacy of misleading vividness(“I’m going to get blown up and all my friend will die!”). The fourth: red herring– sorry, buttercup, but you have precisely jack shit to do with teachers having the freedom to complain about the difficulty in teaching kids. America is under no existential threat from Afghanistan. No one in America is in danger of losing the freedom of speech because some militant goat-herd in the mountains of Afghanistan thinks women ought to wear burqas.

      I don’t think anyone, here, would say that your job is emotionally or physically EASY. Nor, in truth, would any of us want to trade you. But the question of whether teaching is a difficult job that everyone thinks he can do isn’t really a zero sum game in competition with soldiering. So if your BVDs are in a twist because you don’t get enough respect as a soldier, rethink your career. But don’t pretend that every civilian you meet tells you how you should be doing your job or thinks that your job is the equivalent of babysitting.

      And, maybe, once you’re back in the states, you ought to put your money where your overly large mouth is– get a teaching degree, and lead the next generation by example. Just make sure that it’s an example worth emulating, though, because this particular post of yours suggests you still have a lot to learn about being a leader– in Afghanistan OR in a classroom.

    • Nothing about what you do in Afghanistan protects anyone’s freedom. Don’t kid yourself. America hasn’t been involved in a war or conflict over its own freedom in like 75 years. Asshole.

    • I have served in the military, 20 years. I have worked in the business world. Retail, plus I have owned my business, dealt with the public, have family that are teachers, as well as other professions. We all complain about our jobs, how hard, the schooling we have had to have, dealing with people, (customers, students, parents). I don’t believe I have ever heard some one come home from an easy or hard day at work, and rave about how they love their job. Just as the cow always seems to think the grass on the other side of the fence is greener and tastier, so do us humans look at other people and their jobs. I can appreciate the young man in the military with what he said, and I do believe all of you can as well if you just stop and thnk. How many of you regardless of what profession you enjoy, leave your families for extended periods of time? How many of you face the type of danger a military person faces daily? How many of you can stop by a fast food restaurant for a burger and fries when you want one? or pizza? You get the point, right? Fire fighters, police officers, teachers, food workers, et al, have a job to do, a difficult and so often a thankless job, so lighten up and be thankful that each person doing jobs that others of us, either are unqualified for, or don’t have the ability to do, are willing to do them so each of us can have life and pursuit of happiness!

    • Then do it. Oh wait, you have no degree. That’s why you are in the armed forces to begin with.

    • You enlisted,probably because you wanted to “play” soldier. With those comments, you are a DISHONOR to your uniform.
      I am not a teacher but I respect and appreciate their contributions.

    • Vet Against Whiners

      You chose to enlist. Part of that enlistment is a duty to protect this country from threats. Also part of it is obeying your orders from superiors. Although I salute your service for this country, I am disgusted at your lack of understanding of your job. If you enlisted hoping to just get the free money for college, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You joined the military. That means the possibility of getting blown up, shot, watching friends die. Accept it, deal with it, and get the help you need. This post is about teachers and what they have to deal with. A friend of mine was a teacher who was attacked by one of his students. There was no way for him to be compensated or even justice dealt to the kid. And had he struck back, he would have been fired. At least in the military, you know that a fellow soldier will face a court-martial. Is your job easy. By no means. But you don’t have non involved parties (people not in the military) telling you how to do your job. And I am willing to put money on the fact that more people appreciate what you do than what a teacher does.

    • I have to reply to this. I am not sure which teacher you are talking about but I for one DO NOT have any air conditioning . I also DO NOT have a cushy chair. I DO NOT have an office. I share a common room with 6 other educators. What I do have is 33 inner city Englishbas a Second language students with various degrees of understanding who I have to educate daily to help them improve and get along using the Endlish language as well as pass a state test. did I mention that half are special needs students and one is a selective mute.Did I also mention that several times over the last 13 years I have had a chair thrown at me that knocked me out been put in a half Nelson by a special needs student who was bigger and taller then my 5 ft 11 inches just because some one looked at him wrong in lunch. yes this happens no u can’t fight back. yet I go back day after day For that hug from a student or a handcwritten card. As far as serving over seas in the military thank you I for one can not do that. I have had to many back surgeries. As for your low pay, write to your congress person about that. You do know it is mostly the GOP which refuses to raise your pay and has done their best to cut veteran benifets. Please find a inner city school and try to sub or teach for a week or two. Then get back to me. I have taught with X marines and service men who have been in combat and have gotten gold stars they would agree more with me.

  • I am not a teacher. Wouldn’t want to be…I think kids are a pain the in the ass. Up until the age of 28+, kids only are focused on themselves. Far too narcissistic for me to deal with. Recognizing this, I am kinda surprised that more than one person would have the temerity to give advice on teaching kids…cause, I’m pretty sure, most adults feel as I do towards kids…even thoughs who bear them. You as the teacher, please keep in mind that we as adults think we know, or remember, or have a grip on it..but we don’t. Don’t fucking take our statements to heart…we don’t know..we just think we should. Save us, as you always have…and forgive us. We’re the parents…we think we should know…(Sorry)

  • I went to school for education. I made it all the way to student teaching. And I couldn’t handle the classroom. It’s not in my cards. I have the utmost respect for teachers, because I can’t do it. I physically can’t. So I applaud you, sir, you and most of the other commenters here. And don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a “Debbie-Downer” post. I’ve found my passion in life. But I will ALWAYS respect teachers.

  • I don’t think it cancels out… Complaining about your job is one thing! BUT complaining about your job like if someone forced you to take it is another. I really appreciate the men and women who go out and fight for us and our freedom. However, If your going to sign up to put people down, don’t sign up! and if you think teachers have it made, go be a teacher. Every single job has it’s up and downs, but people take those jobs because they love what their job is about. In result, If your not happy and feel like you need to insult other professions, you’re clearly in the wrong place. I hope you find peace ” man the fuck up” and I hope you get off your high horse soon.

  • Most corporate jobs you work unpaid overtime. You are fired at will. You get yelled and micromanaged constantly.

    If it was difficult, education majors would be among the top of each university’s class. Nope.

    If you hate your job, quit and find a new one. So many teachers complain, but at the end of the day they continue to work. Cause they know their employment prospects in other fields is pretty crappy.

    • Another Qualified Teacher

      My employment prospects, as well as many other educators out there, are very high.
      In many areas of the world we must be qualified in education in addition to other areas of expertise to be qualified to teach. I could earn more and have it easier back in the office, but I love teaching and care for the kids. Yet, after gaining our qualifications in our fields, in addition to our certification in education, you tell us we teach because our prospects are crappy? I suggest you go out there and find out exactly what the teachers in your area are qualified to do, and just how many, if any, are actually less qualified than you.
      Just as you complained about being yelled at and micromanaged constantly, I’ll complain too. Many of us complain, just as you did, because we had a bad day, not because we hate our jobs. Some of us complain because we were verbally abused by student’s parents, students, colleagues or bosses. Now, I can add you to the list. Many teachers complain because of people who judge without understanding…

    • I have to agree with this. Throughout college, I constantly had to listen to education majors whine about how much work they had to do and all of these group projects that determined a major portion of their grades. I finally sat down and read through a friend’s semester-long group project…it was a very simple lesson plan for young children coloring and gluing feathers onto paper! Are you kidding me?! That took you and your group all semester to come up with that?! And here I thought I had it hard having to write up the financials based on only three paragraphs for a consolidation accounting class I was in. Additionally, they always complained that an A in their classes was a 92% rather than the standard 90%. News flash, education majors – that means that the class is so easy that too many people were getting A’s, so they had to move the curve up!

      I am an accountant and my firm specializes in auditing school districts, so I see exactly how much you teachers make. I work 50-60 hours a week during tax season, and during audit season I spend 8 hours a day out at school district offices. I hardly get any holidays off and I certainly don’t get the summers off. I have my Master’s in Accounting and had to get a CPA license to be able to do taxes and audits (a notoriously difficult exam, the basic skills test is laughable compared to the CPA exam); all I have to say is, I’m getting paid the same amount as those girls who are coloring and gluing feathers onto paper with kids for 6 hours a day. We all think our jobs are difficult and work overtime, but you don’t see the rest of us thinking we’re better than everyone else.

      • Sandra Franklin Van Valkenburg

        It seems exactly like you think you are better than everyone else, or at the very least teachers. It also seems like you are pretty bad about stereotyping a whole group based on your observation of one lesson plan. There are high school teachers who teach accounting you know who probably have a similar degree to you. Besides, I never said I didn’t love my job. And one of the things I love is being able to come up with silly activities that teach my students German as well as let them have fun and remember what they learned. The only thing I hate about my job is the condescending attitude of people like you. When I first when into teaching, people used to say “What a noble profession.” Now it is all “Teachers suck and are the downfall of humanity.” It just gets old. You get old. Done.

    • Wambulance – I find your name incredibly ironic. You call teachers whiners, yet spend your entire comment whining about teachers. You bring up the basic skills test…did you know that is the test just to get into an education major? The test to complete your degree is called the content test, and if you have a major and a minor, you take a content test in both areas. You also take the APT test, an overall education test. So, the standard teacher takes a basic skills test to get into the major, two content tests, and an APT test depending on your state.

      I’m not sure where your friends went to school and were given a semester-long assignment of that low of a caliber, but I know my major definitely was not that easy. I would venture to guess you are over-exaggerating just a tad.

      Did you get paid for an internship? Student teachers don’t get paid a dime, and I personally had to drive 30 minutes both ways to get to my clinical school. Unpaid, in the winter. I had to work every morning before going to school for two hours just so I could afford gas and groceries.

      Our employment prospects in other fields is pretty crappy? I could work construction (already did that for 5 years), I could be a computer tech assistant (already did that for 2 years), and yet, the hardest job I had getting was my current teaching position. I had one interview in which 10 people were chosen out of 150 applicants. For a single position. The interview was excruciatingly long (I had to meet with the principal for 2 hours, take a written test, meet with the Athletic Director for 2 hours, and then do a half-hour wrap-up with both, totaling about 5 hours). If you made it into the top five, then you had to do the same thing again. Then the top two had to do it yet again. I didn’t even get the job. I also received interviews from several schools that had 50-100 applicants. I was told by most principals that the number one reason they threw out an application and resume was because of a grammatical mistake. The second they saw one, they put it into the shredder.

      Now, I am not whining about anything, I’m just bringing to light things you aren’t caring to see. I understand you have a tough job too, but to talk down like you are is exactly why teachers are so defensive about people like you. You said you don’t act like you are better than anyone else, yet everything you wrote contradicted that exact statement.

    • “Additionally, they always complained that an A in their classes was a 92% rather than the standard 90%.”

      What the hell – I did math, and we had classes where the average was 50% in first year…

    • If we got paid better and received more respect, only the top of each class would become teachers. Some of us were at the top of our classes and could easily have chosen another field and been very successful. But our hearts are in the classroom, so we sacrifice better pay for a job we find rewarding. When people put teachers down, it takes away from the rewarding feeling of our job.
      I’m sorry if you weren’t blessed with good teachers, but there are plenty of awesome teachers in this world that deserve respect.

  • Teaching requires passion for learning, dedication and a love of being with children. If you lack these qualities I would say don’t bother thinking of becoming a teacher.

  • Most jobs get stick. Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, Taxi Drivers (they deserve it), etc. Take it as a sign of respect if people can your profession. Ask someone, who thinks you have it easy, “If it is such an easy job, why didn’t you take it up?” They back off pretty quickly.

  • No job is easy! Most people are jealous of teachers schedules , as a parent you can not put a price on having the same schedule as your children.

    • It is interesting to me that people always comment on teacher’s schedules. It is as if teachers enter the school when the children do and leave at the end of the school day with them. If you actually want to know. I am at school long before the children arrive preparing for the day. I often stay for hours after they leave and then take work home to finish. I attend meetings, I plan, I shop for my students whose parents cant afford to feed them, I attend open houses, I do parent interviews into the evening etc. I come in to work on weekends and during the summer. I don’t have the same schedule as my own children. Also, I have missed out on my own children’s school events, because I had to be at my own school with other peoples children. I have never complained that my job is too hard, I love teaching.

    • The same schedule? My daughter attends my school. While it is a blessing for transportation, imagine having “take your child to work” day. All day. Every day. How much work would you get done? Through meetings, conferences, planning, grading, etc. my 7 year old is at school with me from 7:30/8 every morning until anywhere from 5 until 6:30 at night. Entertaining herself, playing with other staff kids, doing her homework on her own. She has been forced to be independent. Yes, I get extra time with her over the summer. THAT is our quality time. Week nights, even after she goes to bed, time during the weekends….more schoolwork.

  • Plenty of confirmation

    You’ve got plenty of confirmation in the comments. I think it’s hilarious that you have so many people responding to your article by loudly declaiming “but your job REALLY IS easy!”

    What a bunch of morons. This is one reason why America no longer leads the world in education. As Isaac Asimov once said, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

    • Good quote. 🙂

      That said, I think the problem is that so much of what makes teachers good is soft skills (i.e.: people skills), and a lot of people like to think everyone has those. Having had my people skills pressed in the business world, I can confirm that not everyone does!

  • What a bunch of whiners on all sides. Buck up.

  • My major problem was that I had many teachers who clearly were less intelligent than me and my other more intelligent peers. We had some extremely smart and knowledgeable teachers in honors and AP high school courses, but many of them were arrogant and didn’t fulfill the other roles of a teacher (like caring about students at all). I also had some teachers who WERE knowledgeable, thorough, caring, and supportive. They taught well and I learned. But I also had some teachers that were just dumb and had no business teaching others. One of the characteristics of a teacher should be reasonably high intelligence. If your kids can see that you are struggling with the material you teach or you can’t comprehend and answer a higher level, thought-provoking question about your subject, you should not be teaching. I have a friend who taught college remedial math courses for education majors. You know, the 0-credit courses before you can take actual math classes because you didn’t do well enough on the placement tests. She was horrified by the math skills of these people. These students could not perform the simple four mathematical functions required of 3rd graders and they were in training to be teachers. Granted, being enrolled in the major does not imply graduation or employment, but the classes existed solely for education majors. If these students were typically unable to graduate down the line, the college would require a high score on the math placement as a prereq and not offer the remedial classes. I know a woman in her forties who applied to the education major in college and was denied because her GPA didn’t meet requirements. None of the teachers my own age (mid-twenties) I have spoken to about this had to apply to their programs separately from applying to their college. That’s probably one of the main issues. Nobody is vetting the candidates for intelligence.

    • Sandra Franklin Van Valkenburg

      I can’t disagree with you. I am a teacher andthere are some who don’t really know their subject well. Part of this is the older teachers who have a certification to teach anything. They have seniority over newer specially trained teachers and is a ridiculous practice.

      • I take offense with your lumping “older” teachers among those who don’t teach well. For the record, an elementary teacher must teach all of the subjects, not specialize in just one subject. I, for example, have three teaching areas: Social studies, English, and business. But I didn’t teach subjects; I taught students. I taught junior high for four years and high school for 21 years. I currently teach college composition. The trend in schools these days is to choose a younger teacher over an older teacher, not because the younger teacher has more “new” ideas, but because a district doesn’t have to pay a younger teacher as much as a seasoned teacher. Don’t forget, one day you’ll be an older teacher too. See how you like the young saplings taking pot shots at the mighty oaks.

    • I was GATE and AP and Honors growing up. I understand what you mean. I agree that occasionally a teacher may not have the high level of intelligence that would support more growth from his or students. However, if teachers were paid better and respected more, there would be more of an incentive for those with high intelligences to become teachers. Some think I am wasting my intelligence because I could make more if I did something else, and teaching doesn’t get a ton of respect.

  • There are great teachers and there are some really awful teachers. Totally agree with the feathers/glue project comment. I can’t help but wonder if there is so much stress and work as quoted by many on this board, why so many teachers in my district seem to be texting or on their phones during class and school hours. Most teachers interact with students for an hour a day at best. Let’s throw 22 kids in a class. How exactly are you having that much of an influence on any one given child. I realize the K-5 years are a bit different in that respect. I introduced myself to several teachers (9th grade) at BTS night…didn’t even know who my son was. I sincerely doubt you’re making a difference in his life..that would be family, friends, church life. You don’t spend enough time with him to even know him as a person. I’m still trying to understand how a K teacher (in my district) makes $125 k per year and her goals/annual expectations never changed….this is what always sticks in my head when I hear the complaints from teachers in my district. I wish I had that job. Every year my annual review would be the same expectations..where’s the growth potential? How many ways can you teach the ABC’s, Biology, History? EVERYONE that works has bad days, argumentative co-workers, customers etc. Teachers are no different and certainly no more special. We all have jobs to do. Do them and stop complaining please.

    • I am sorry you feel this way, Marie. Our pay scale tops out at $72,000 if you have 60 additional units beyond your credential and have over 25 years of experience. So, I don’t know where this $125,000 is coming from. Also, I am sorry that you don’t feel like your teachers know your kids- I don’t know how big your school is, but, in defense of them, I know back to school night is usually within the first 3 weeks of school for us, so, perhaps it should be later as we meet over 100 students at the beginning of the year, so it does take a little while to get to know them- please check back at the end of the year or in the middle and see if they know them at that point- if not, then I really am sorry on behalf of my profession. I can tell you, that in all of my classes, I know each student, what their interests are, what (and sometimes who 😉 ) they like, many of their siblings, many of the parents names and or faces, and often times, even things that stress them out as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Yes, it is November, yes it took a month or two to accomplish this, but, it does happen. I truly care for them- I pray for them (don’t tell- wouldn’t want to get in trouble for praying…), and when they hurt, I often hurt for them. I am sorry your experiences have been what you have mentioned…

    • As a HS teacher I had over 125 to 150 different students each semester. The student was in my class for 50 minutes in a day. I tried hard to know all their names by the end of the first class and recall them at the beginning of the second day. It became a game and the students were amazed that I knew their names. However, knowing a student’s name does not mean I know a lot about them in the first week or two which is typically when BTS was held in our district. BTS is a way for a parent to see what their child’s day is like and learn class expectations. It is NOT meant for you to get a report on your child. HS is a big change for both students and parents to adjust to. By the time parent conferences came around, many parents were very surprised that I could tell them things about their child that they didn’t know. On the other hand, too many parents didn’t bother to show up for conferences when they really needed to. I can assure you I had a positive influence on all my students in some way. For some it was helping them learn new things. For others it was listening to them and helping them in any way I could because they needed someone to talk to about things that had nothing to do with class, such as alcoholic parents, or a pregnant teen who was afraid to tell her parents.

      With all due respect, I don’t think you understand teaching. There are a many ways to teach any subject. It would be easy if a teacher could always use the same lesson plan, but it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes I couldn’t even use the same lesson plan when I had two sections of the same subject in a semester because the students in each section were so different.

      I agree that teachers should not be on their cell phones during class. Our district policy did not allow that. Parents were also told not to call their child during class, but some still did it!

      You must live in an extremely rich school district. There certainly aren’t any teachers making $125,000 in any of the districts around here.

      Sometimes I think everyone thinks they know about teaching and education because they went to school. Students only see what happens in a classroom. They don’t understand everything that goes on behind the scene. Family structure has changed tremendously and students today are much different than they were even 5 or 10 years ago. Society expects schools to handle all the problems because they don’t know how to deal with it. There is a limit to what can be done in a day when you are required to jump through so many hoops. I challenge you to follow a teacher for a few days. Yes, everyone has bad days, but I am also 100% sure, based on what you have said, that you wouldn’t want to be a teacher.

    • Another person who has no idea what truly goes into teaching. I teach every single student every single day in my school (190 students) as a physical education teacher. I know every single one of them by first and last name, know their parents, know what activities they are involved in, assess every single one of them monthly, and keep records of physical and social development. I also coach junior high basketball, high school baseball, and summer baseball. I love every single second of it, but it is tough. During sports seasons, I leave by 7 in the morning, teach all day, coach immediately after school (drive 30 minutes during baseball season), leave the gym at 5 at the earliest, on game nights I don’t get home until 9 or 10 at night (11 during baseball season), wake up at 6:30 and do it all again. Don’t forget that the temperatures are sometimes in the 20’s and 30’s during spring baseball, too. During the summer, I coach 15-16 year old legion baseball unpaid, and hold various basketball camps and charge the parents just for the gas money to get me too and from the camp. On top of that I am the assistant Athletic Director and go to every single home sporting event at my school, set up the gym, control chaos in the halls, and then put everything away afterwards. Again, not getting home until 9. I don’t complain one bit, because I enjoy it and I feel I am having a true impact on the kids and their health, well-being, and locomotor/manipulative/social development, but most of my days are, at a minimum, 10 hour days, if not 12, 13, or 14 hour days. I get paid a grand total of $31,000 for all of that, because I teach at a parochial school. Don’t assume all teachers get paid a boat-load of money, because guess what, some of us are truly in it for the love of it.

    • Just deleted a really long response after realizing that no matter how I respond, you’ll think your way and I’ll think mine. Catherine, Thanks for your balanced response to my post. Marsha, You could be correct in that I don’t know/understand teaching. I can only go by what I’ve seen in my district. Anonymous, Your response makes me think you defend your countless paid and unpaid jobs too much. Peace!

    • So clueless, Marie. I also coach as well as teach in my district so I see and get to know the student-athlete outside of the classroom. I talk to them and ask them of their goals, desires, aspirations after graduation. How do YOU know what child is being influenced or NOT? Every year, I have at least 10 kids come home for the holidays and come back to school to visit me. They thank me for helping them and they come for advice. Yes we are no different or special. But you aren’t.

  • Just something to remember. The title never complains it is the hardest job. Just that it is the hardest job people think they can do. Most people dont think they can do most of the jobs people are comparing teaching to.

  • I love this.

    I spent 9 years in the Navy, as a nuclear engineer. And I will gladly admit that, if not for the people that put up with my bitch ass in school, I would be no where today.

    I’ll gladly do another 9 before I try to teach. I learned that I was not teacher material when I was trying to explain systems to younger, junior Sailors. I was HORRIBLE at it.

    All in all, I applaud you, and everyone else that does what you do.

  • I understand the sentiment, but I have always had a lot of fun teaching. It’s been one of my most enjoyable jobs. The tough students other teachers have had I never really had much trouble with. But part of the reason I have enjoyed it is because the administration has always been supportive of me as well and I enjoy who I work with. I’ve rarely had a tough day teaching.

    • Dan, you are blessed. I, too, have been reasonably successful with even the toughest kids, due in part to my classroom management and my challenge to them to act like young men and women. I wasn’t always the best liked teacher–because I had high expectations for my students–but in the end, they were grateful I pushed them. I also think that teaching is the most enjoyable career that really chose me; I never considered teaching before I met my teacher (ex)husband and for that I’m grateful. My only problems came, not so much from the students themselves, but from evil administrators who harassed me because I didn’t kiss their asses, and did what I knew was right for my students, and parents who, like many people, thought they knew better than I when it came to teaching THEIR kids.

  • It’s true that anyone can be a teacher in the same way that anyone can play the piano. You just sit on the bench and start pressing the keys. The problem is you will suck if you don’t have training, experience and/or a talent for it.

  • “Those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym. And those who couldn’t do anything, I think, were assigned to our school.” (Annie Hall 1977)

  • I had a good friend who worked in a large corporation. He decided he wanted to teach because it looked a lot easier than his current job and he wanted summers off. He lasted exactly two weeks teaching math in middle school. After the the second week he just walked out and said, “at least in my company they listened to me”. The following year another friend who worked sales in a company told me he wanted to teach because, “anyone can teach”. I told him about our other friend, he didn’t believe me and he made it one week less in middle school. Yup, hardest job that everyone thinks they can do….

  • I went from hobby science, to a chef for 12 years, then back to Biotech work at Tufts and Foundation for Blood Research in Scarborough, Me, then taught for 12 years, now subbing while I farm (goat dairy, pigs, chickens for meat and some for eggs, bees.. because I want to teach some agriculture and I need to NOT be a hypocrite, so here I am, taking my meager pile of money and turning it into a miniscule pile of money… so true.. teachers are disrespected in compensation and conversation.
    Primary school educators, if they are good, are GREAT and need to be paid like rockstars (I quote Madonna there)

  • I am one of the fortunate people who can recall vividly (I’m over 70) and almost daily my great teachers and the positive impact they have had on my life. I was able to personally thank the most amazing one (he changed a B+ to an A- for my final exam when I explained why I deserved it), and we both will likely never forget that small bit of gratitude.

    Personally thank one of YOUR teachers – I promise you it will make a difference in MANY lives. Isn’t that what we all want to do? Teachers get to do that every single day!

    btw – the ‘bad’ ones never cross my mind. . . .because they made no impact.

  • I am not a teacher. I AM a volunteer at a local lower socioeconomic grade school helping them read. I have more respect for teachers than I had before. I love the children I work with but they’re the kids having difficulties from mild learning disabilities to no focusing. I work hard with the children trying to help it make sense but only for 25 minutes one day (actually 2 days because I work with 2nd and 3rd grades) a week with 4 children a day. I come home exhausted from trying to be totally present and figure out a new way to explain something they don’t comprehend. Teaching is not easy, volunteering at a school isn’t easy either. And yet, many think the schools should do raise the children. My hat is off to you.

  • You are absolutely right… WE MAKE IT LOOK EASY!!!! Every day is a new set of challenges that we face even if we are not ready to face them. I respect all professions but I don’t look for validation from adults. What matters to me is that my students feel loved, valued, and respected and they trust me enough to teach them invaluable life lessons. That is all that really matters to me after
    all is said and done. I teach from my heart. I have been blessed with the gifts necessary to do this job. Not everyone can honestly say that. Teachers … good teachers are priceless!

  • People are posting about how difficult their jobs are like we (teachers) or anyone else said we could easily do them. THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS ARTICLE IS SAYING. Wambulance : I don’t think I have EVER heard anyone say, “I could be an accountant…it’s the easiest job ever. Anyone could do it.” IF YOU READ THE TITLE IT SAYS….The hardest job everyone THINKS they can do. No one is undermining your career or the level of difficulty, but people are always undermining the teaching profession. Quit complaining…this article was never made for that. People who have never stepped foot in the classroom to teach have no idea what all it entails. Try managing 20+ five and six year olds alone and make sure EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM moves on to first grade, know their alphabet, can read, can count, etc. When majority of the time there are 3 or 4 different ways you have to teach each concept, because not every child learns the same. There are children with physical and mental disabilities that are mainstreamed into our classrooms. So, on top of teaching these 20+ five and six year old students who have a short attention span, you need to make sure each of their needs are met. You are not just their teacher….you are their mom/dad for 7 hours a day. Most people can’t handle their own children for just a few hours when they have even only one or two! Try 20 at the same time! You need to make sure each child feels loved and safe. Make sure their home life is ok and they have suitable living conditions. Sadly, many of them don’t have anyone at home that cares. Do you think you could emotionally handle dealing with CPS on a normal basis and seeing children in such conditions that call for that?? It’s awful. But I am not complaining…all of these things I have mentioned are reasons WHY I love my job. I am able to make a difference and help children who are in need. So, Wambulance…if you don’t already have kids, when you do have them I pray you have compassion for their teachers and you aren’t such a narcissistic a**. While you are at work and complaining about how awful your job is, teachers are making a difference in your child’s life. I guarantee if you take just one day to volunteer in their classroom you will change your mind.

  • I have been teaching elementary school for 20 years. We do make it look easy! Just ask my student teacher, who gets up in front of the class after me and stumbles through her lesson and then I realize all the things I do with automaticity, most of which can’t be taught, but come with experience. People need to support teachers and hope they stay in the profession for more than 5 years.

    • Exactly!!!!

    • I’ve taught for 19 years. I had my first student teacher this year. You said exactly how I feel!

    • Well, I hope that your student teacher never finds out how much you’re telling people that she “stumbles through” her lessons. Of course she’s going to do that…she’s a student teacher and doesn’t have 20 years experience. I’m a student teacher, getting ready to graduate in 3 weeks, and thank HEAVENS my cooperating teacher supports me!

    • @ student Teacher: I must have missed the part where she said she doesn’t support her student teacher. What she said was it helped her realize all of the things teachers learn to do over time. Hence, supporting teachers and hoping they stay in the profession for more than 5 years…you know, to give you time to learn all of those little tricks that come with experience!

  • Some teachers aren’t able to make it look easy because they can’t teach. I truly respect how hard it is to actually teach, however, it is important to make the distinction between the teachers that work extremely hard to do their job, and the ones who don’t care about teaching. It would be an insult to the hard working teachers if we didn’t make that distinction.

    • I agree, I think teachers for some reason tend to get a lot of flack because everyone always had at least one “bad” teacher. Even teachers when they grew up have had at least one “bad” teacher. Someone who was burnt out, didn’t care any more, just looking for a pay cheque etc.
      This issue exists in all professions and for some reason they seem to be more of the “go-to” example in teaching than in others. There are a ton of “bad” doctors out there, but the profession is still generally respected despite them. There are many many less than stellar lawyers out there, but same idea.
      It’s a shame that a profession that in many places takes up to 6 years just to get into the field, and with the expectation of continuing education, gets such flack. 6 years post-secondary to train to do anything should be long enough to get a bit of slack from society that you must at least be well trained as a profession regardless of the idiots that exist in every work environment.

    • This adds to the argument. Not all bad teachers don’t care; some just can’t do it. If caring was all it took, anyone could do it. Most people get into teaching because they care, but some aren’t able to actually do teaching.

    • This could be said about any profession bud!

    • You have a comma fault in comment. While your grammar is not the issue I wanted to point out that you missed the point!

    • There are great and bad performers in EVERY single solitary field. No one ever claims that ALL teachers are deserving of accolades. We teachers know who is who, among our colleagues and we’ve all had both kinds of teachers as well.

    • If you had been paying attention in class, or learning to read closely while doing your homework you would have spelled “flak” correctly. Now I see how you made it through school.

  • I think the purpose of this story is to show that a lot of people are quick to tell teachers what they can do to teach better, kind of like people without kids telling parents what they need to do to be better parents. I would never try to tell a soldier, electrician or anyone else how to do his job, but part of how he got to be where he is, is because he either chose to learn or not learn in school. I don’t think people realize how much good teachers sacrifice for other people’s children. I have joked with my daughter about having holidays and summers off, but I know that she goes to work early and leaves late. She frequently works during the week-end grading papers and preparing classroom material. She attends in-services during the summer. She spends half her paycheck to buy materials for the classroom and supplies for her children. She has to deal with children that don’t want to learn and parents that think little Johnny is perfect. Then there are the parents that couldn’t care less or absentee parents, or parents that are in jail and Grandma is raising the kids. Teachers have to deal with all sides of the issue. When my children were in school, I told them the teachers job was to teach and their job was to learn everything they could from that teacher and then when they finished school, they could be whatever they chose to be. Teachers need more support from parents.

  • I taught elementary school for 31 years – 11 of those in a very depressed area with lots of gang violence. I loved my “kids” and for the most part loved my job. I have now been retired for 8 years and can honestly say, I loved it but do not miss it. I am so glad I got out before most kids had cell phones and “tablets”….It was the hardest, most rewarding job I have ever had.

  • I have taught for 16 years and can say it doesn’t get easier over time. More demands are being put on teachers. I teach special education and now finding myself not only a teacher but also a nurse-yes I am required to do g-tube feedings, give meds through out the school the day, change diapers with a changing table in the classroom and of course teach the academics. Really how many people really want this job? I have loved it in the past but starting to get really burnt-out!

    • I agree with you, I too work with special needs students. I also do all the things you mentioned, and I’m just a…. Para.

      • Victoria, do not denigrate your contribution. Every para-pro I worked with brought something to the job and most were worth pure gold to me. As hard as the job is, it is doubly so in ex-ed and with the demands of IDEA you are often invaluable as another pair of hands while the teacher’s are tied. Thank you for all you do.

  • Thank you! That’s all just thank you!!!

  • Thank you! 20 year seasoned teacher! Beautifully said!

  • Teaching is a job you can’t do well if you don’t love the kids first. Loving the kids makes those special moments when they “get” it so worth all the long hours, headaches, and tired eyes. I doubt I have ever had a year out of the last 33 that I have been able to walk out of my classroom and not do something school related once I got home. But, teaching is a calling for me and it is a huge part of my life. It just seems natural to give what is needed to do my best.

  • Thank you for this! I’ve been teaching for 5 years, and lately all I seem to do I defend my profession.

  • I love your post. In addition to everything you said, a lot of people don’t realize not only how little support we actually have but how the often the support systems that we are supposed to have end up working against us. When parents make any negative comments about their child’s teacher or about school in front of their child, it completely negates the child’s respect for their teacher or for education in general. Or teacher rating systems put in place by the district that make honest teachers who are more concerned with a child’s deep concept knowledge, problem solving, and critical thinking skills, than whether they bubble a correct answer out of 4 choices on a test to feel like they aren’t doing their jobs well. But at the same time monatarily rewarding teachers who only pick out tested skills to teach or cheat on the tests. Also, when a teacher recommends retention because a child didn’t grasp the skill set needed for the next grade but the district forces promotion to have lower retention numbers.

    Finally, stop buying kids new jordans when they don’t know their multiplication facts in 5th grade! Get them flashcards, books, internet service, science toys in stead of x boxes, and fancy shoes. How do i convince a child who doesn’t care about school that they can make a better life for themselves with education if they get whatever they want when they have failing grades? I love my students, i fight for them, i am their advocate. But why am i fighting alone and most often against the people who are suppost to be fighting for them but don’t?

    There are so many things that most people don’t know about teaching. And why don’t they know? We smile and proceed doing what is right by these children, they matter to us and don’t deserve to feel our stress. Why don’t we quit teaching and do something else? Because we love our students too much to abandon them. We can’t do the same thing that most people in thier lives have done to them and turn our backs on them. And we matter too. Maybe not to anyone but our students, but they are the only ones that count.

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