What's so hard?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by WannaBeHistoryTeacher, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. WannaBeHistoryTeacher

    WannaBeHistoryTeacher New Member

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    Dec 14, 2016

    I'm a former Marine studying at a university in Wisconsin. My Major is History Teaching with a minor in Secondary Education, obviously, I plan to be a high school History teacher.

    I love history and I'm a good public speaker.
    Everyone keeps telling me how hard it is to be a teacher. I am hearing that it's a hard job that's only getting harder.
    I mean no disrespect with my question, I'm simply looking to quell the non-sense that I keep hearing.

    What is so hard about it?
    With so much time off, as long as the lesson plan is solid, why is it considered so difficult?
    I understand that there is a considerable amount of work involved, but every job has long hours.
    I'm not talking about salary, I'm just trying to figure out why everybody keeps telling me to proceed with caution.
    Any advice is appreciated. And again, I don't mean to insult the profession, I just want to know.
     
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  3. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    If you really are what you say you are, then you will find out soon enough. Nothing anyone can say will make sense until you experience it.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    :welcome::atoz_love:

    There are so many rewarding things about teaching, so much so that it would probably take several days to list what I love about what I do. It would take almost as long to discuss the challenges we all face every day. I invite you to read through the forum. Lots of collaboration and commiseration is to be found here.
     
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  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    One of the things that many new teachers find challenging is the realization that teachers don't teach well-planned lessons or a specific curriculum, they teach a room full of unique individuals, each with their own strengths, challenges, and stories. There is no one-size-fits-all in education.
     
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  6. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think with your particular background, the biggest challenge you will face is classroom management. It is VERY difficult for many veterans to realize that they are in charge of a bunch of people that do not have to do a single thing they say. That cussing out a superior, you, might result in a student being sent home for a day. That's if you have a supportive administration. Consequences mean nothing to those that really don't give a flip about school. Your rank means nothing.

    Do you have children? Are you their mother or father? Have you noticed that your wife is exhausted after trying to get dinner on the table while taking care of a toddler at the same time? Teaching is that feeling multiplied over and over. Add to that complete lack of respect from students, parents, the community, society at large and often administration. Add in a nice dose of verbal abuse, coming from all of the above. Throw in some guilt and frustration due to not being able to reach that one kid. Don't forget that small paycheck that gets smaller each week because of the stuff you have to buy for your classroom. Top it all off with the expectation that your students will score a certain way on their standardized tests, or else.

    I've had many jobs. This is my second career. This is by far the hardest of them all.
     
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  8. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  9. Mr Magoo

    Mr Magoo Comrade

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    Dec 14, 2016

    If you are lucky enough to have all Pre-Ap classes , then that is better. (The smarties)
     
  10. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Dec 15, 2016

    I think most teachers will agree that implementing, enforcing, and maintaining good classroom management is the most difficult part of teaching. As Leaborb stated, you spend 8 hours a day with over 100 different students with different motivations, desires, abilities, etc. Keeping classroom after classroom running smoothly every day takes far more effort and planning than teaching the content.

    This was my biggest struggle when I first started teaching. As a student, I was top of the class, held my teachers in the highest regard, and did my absolute best every day. Naturally, I assumed my mindset was going to be reflected by all of my pupils. This was probably my rudest awakening. I teach in an excellent school, but still only about 10% of my students share the same outlook I did. I've adapted in the past 7 years, but that was what I found hardest about becoming a teacher.

    Also, most of your experience is going to boil down to the administration. I am fortunate to have administrators that take discipline and consequences for misbehavior seriously. If a student is consistently acting defiant and disrupting the learning environment, I have confidence it won't persist for long once an administrator has been informed. I have friends that teach in schools without this support system and they are absolutely miserable.
     
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  11. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  12. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Dec 15, 2016

    My first year teaching, a typical day would look like this:

    7am, get to school. Spend an hour going over my lessons for the day and making any last-minute adjustments. I taught five different classes that first year, and I only had a decent textbook for one of them. The rest, I was creating everything from scratch.

    8am-10am, first block. I taught 8th grade Religion (Catholic school) and Social Studies in that time. I had 35 8th graders. Most were from high-poverty families, many gang-related. The majority spoke English as a second language. Many had learning disabilities, but we had no special ed or counseling support. At least one was homeless (that I knew of), another was in foster care. Nothing can prepare you for the vast array of needs one class can present.

    10:00-10:20, recess. I had recess duty at least once a week. The other days, I would have a quick break. If I had to pick up someone else's duty, I didn't get a break.

    10:25-12:00, second block, 6th grade Language Arts. I was trained to teach high school. Sixth grade was not my thing...

    12:00-12:45, lunch and second recess. My students ate lunch in my class, then went out for recess, so my lunch period was 30 minutes (actually less since I had to walk my class to and from recess). I would have lunch recess duty at least once a week, so some days I would only have 15 minutes for lunch.

    12:45-3:00, third block, 8th grade Language Arts. Twice a week my class would go to PE and I would get 45 minutes for my "prep period." Notice that so far, none of my day has been spent grading papers, or lesson planning, or making my copies, or contacting parents, or doing any of the other myriad things a teacher is required to somehow do. I had 90 minutes total per week to somehow magically get this all done, which is of course humanly impossible. Not to mention that if our PE teacher was absent, PE was canceled, so no prep that day.

    3:00 dismissal. Often, I wouldn't have had a chance to eat anything all day, so I would finally get to sit down and eat something and try to catch my breath for a moment, before tackling any of the things that inevitably didn't get done on my prep. Remember that I had five classes of 35 students each. If I gave one assignment per class, that is 175 papers to grade, every day. Even if I spent just one minute per paper, that is almost three hours' work. I also had to plan for 5 1/2 hours of instruction per day. Theoretically, it should take 15 minutes to plan for an hour of instruction, but my first year it was more. So I needed at least 1-2 hours of planning time every day. That made for seven hours a day in front of a class, three hours of grading, and two hours of planning. And that wasn't even counting making copies, parent phone calls, meetings, and everything else under the sun.

    I literally worked myself sick my first year, and too many new teachers do, since teacher "preparation" programs don't prepare you for the onslaught of "other" duties beyond "just" teaching 35 class hours per week.
     
  14. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Dec 15, 2016

    Third year here at an extremely small, rural school that is known for sports. The hardest thing for me is trying to keep my expectations high, especially with my honors-level courses. My principal, my professional development speakers, my mentor, the parents of my students, everyone tells me to have high expectations and hold my kids to them, but the minute I do (at least at my school) I get push back from all the same people. More rigor, but not like that, that's too hard. We don't want to set our students up for failure. These are >insert name of school< kids after all. I've seen great potential but when an athlete is failing and academic eligibility check rolls around, I'm expected to throw all my established rules and procedures about late work, retakes, etc. out the window in order to accept a lot of sloppy work turned in for the sake of a D-. My school says it can't bench students or kick them off the team due to academics because then we wouldn't have any sports. Sad and frustrating.
     
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  15. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Companion

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    Dec 16, 2016

    I think what everyone else has said is very true. Teaching is the easy part and the best part. What makes it hard--being held accountable for things you cannot control. Kids are failing, but do not come to tutoring or ask for extra help, and it's your fault. Test scores are low in your subject, it's your fault. The planning is the easy part. Although we are not working during the summer, most teachers I know are taking classes or PD, and while it is usually their choice, in most cases, if they don't do it, you can eventually lose your certification. You have parents that think it's your fault that Johnny is failing. You have a class of thirty kids - 10 are on grade level, 5 are above, 10 are below, 4 can barely write, and 1 is so autistic that if you speak to loudly they start to scream and flail. But they all have to pass the same test. You are trying to read The Raven: Some kids have no idea what a raven is; some kids don't understand how quotation marks work, so they don't understand who is speaking; some kids can totally explain what every allusion is in the poem and fall asleep when you are explaining what someone "rapping" on the chamber door is; some spend the entire poem focusing on the audio of the poem, read by James Earl Jones, who are convinced that his voice is a computer, so don't hear the poem at all.

    Like an earlier poster said, let me tell you what a class I had last year was like.

    11th grade - 35 students

    (There is some overlap in these)
    2 were repeating the 11th grade for the 2nd time
    5 were repeating for the 1st time
    2 with severe emotional disabilities
    1 reading at a 1st grade reading level
    1 with paranoid schizophrenia
    10 with chronic attendance issues (missing 4 or 5 days at a time)
    1 incredibly bright honor student who couldn't get in the honors class because of her schedule
    15 really good kids who really want to learn and work hard
    10 kids who refuse to put up their phones, regardless of consequences
    No inclusion teacher
    No administrative support

    My day with them - 90 minutes

    I spent about 30 minutes of class teaching material--the rest

    asking them to sit down
    asking them to stop talking
    standing at the front of the room waiting for them to stop talking
    listening to them bark and meow when my back was turned or I was helping another student
    taking sharpie markers away from them so they wouldn't draw genitals on the desks
    taking crayons away from them because they liked to throw them
    listening to them complain - "I don't want to" "I don't understand" "Is this for a grade" "I don't care" "I don't like you" "This class is boring"
    Locking up papers so they don't steal them to cheat
    taking phones, headphones, etc.
    Shutting down game sites, movie sites, and even porn sites
    asking them to not use the "n" word in class

    Is this the norm? No, I have a much better group now--one of the major reasons I left there is this class.

    This is why teaching is hard. There are so many things that you cannot control, no matter what you do, but you still have to find a solution. If a kid falls asleep in your class because they are working nights, you still have to make them wake up. If a kid has a traumatic brain injury because their mother shook them as a baby, I still have to get them to pass a test, even though this child can get lost walking around the school because her brain doesn't work right.

    It is an incredibly rewarding job, but until you become a teacher, you will never truly know how hard it is, no matter what anyone tells you. Please become a teacher, if that's what you want, but do not go in with rose-colored glasses. They will be shattered very quickly.
     
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  16. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    I think the hardest thing these days about teaching high school is the fact that students that don't want to be there or cause trouble to everyone else are not removed. High school isn't for every student (my grandpa only graduated 8th grade and did very well) but now days everyone thinks everybody should take normal high school classes which I will honestly say that it isn't for everyone. Some should do online classes or homeschool. We also have the different types of all students you can can make running a class easy or very painstaking an nightmare to run. Some that have parents who are going through divorce or other problems that make the child seem less fit to do the learning that the student could. Most of the classes and most of the students are good. However, it only takes a few bad apples to make running a class quite hard. If you have a good administration (principals and discipline system) these students will be removed. However, if you don't or if you have a good principal that wants a student to stay, you may wind up with wounded students that want to talk about all their problems and drama day after day and will not do required work. We can't take this personally and it can be hard. It can also be a challenge to be in the average line of teaching (not being too easy or too hard), which I find is quite a challenge. Does everybody fail the test or is it the average a C or is it an A? What happens if 80% of students fail a quiz you gave or 90% made an A on the particular quiz? It can be hard to be right on the median and you also have to think about students who are absent for long periods time. A good student that does excellent work when he/she is in class but gone many days because of circumstances beyond the student's control. A student present nearly everyday but hardly does any work? How do we grade fairly even though absences are excused? Interruptions, students being taken out to visit counselors when a lesson is being taught, or other things can make a normal day seem hard. If you teach at a title 1 or lower performing school you will notice lots of students that have lower academic skills than average which is where I teach. Also, there is a myriad of different salaries across the Us (starting, ending, ect). Some states start terribly low, even for those who have master's degrees. However, I love teaching even with all the downsides. I work for an alternative school in New Mexico.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2016
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  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    In my opinion the hardest thing is classroom management. It will be a life/death situation to your teaching career. If you don't have a good handle on your classes, you cannot teach, it doesn't matter how wonderful your lessons are, how much you are a master at your content; all of it will be lost by the constant disruptions (and much worse) and you having to deal with it.
    If you have a good handle on your class, then you will probably still have to deal with why are students failing, why are they always absent, grading papers, etc, but it is manageable and most often enjoyable. (of course there is a trick to figure out for you to work the least amount to get the maximum results, but that takes time)
    The good news is that you can somewhat be prepared for classroom management. Your college classes won't really prepare you too much, but a lot of observation on good AND bad teachers will help you, and if you are a reflective teacher, you will become better and better with experience.

    If you're a natural at managing behavior (some people are) then half of your battle is won.
     
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  18. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    However, classroom management only takes it so far when those who have so many problems in their lives won't do what you say even though we said expectations the beginning of the semester. I have students in the school I teach at that are having trouble and won't follow directions from veteran 20+ teachers. Some student's won't adhere to expectations and requirements no matter what and who says what. They will act nicely and do a show in front on the principal/administration and act otherwise when in class. It also annoys me that we as educators have to deal with these students when they should be removed and put in a different type of school. Not everybody is made for every occupation, and not all students are made for a classroom setting. Remove them, expel them, and let them get their GED if it goes that far. I have a cousin with a GED who has a full time job doing technical computer work and does well for a living. We need to quit thinking everybody should make it through high school. Let's go back to the year (let's day 1940). Not NEAR as many students, in a proportional sense to the overall population, made it through high school. It just seems like now days so many high school students are passed through with threats from administration and parents. If we didn't have to deal with this a high school diploma would be so much more prestigious. If someone isn't going to do something or make something of what they are in, they are not. Some teachers think every person can and will do everything required and it's not true. When I was in college, NEARLY half of the class would stop showing up and it was NEVER the fault of the teacher. I am just tired of the pressure of high school teachers put on upon our government thinking they should have this unbelievable magic of making every student will go through every class when they can't or won't by the student's own free will. If these "so called passed" high school diploma students make it to college, they will have to retake all developmental courses before they can take anything college level. A GED student may have to do the same thing. So what's the the difference?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2016
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  19. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Have you ever spent any time in a classroom? If you haven't, you should start finding ways to observe or volunteer in different classrooms at the grade level you want to teach. I especially recommend schools that are in high-poverty areas. Visit with the teachers in these classrooms and ask them these questions. I suspect that you'll hear the same sorts of things from all of them.

    As for what I would say....Classroom management is not easy, and this is especially true for people who have never struggled with managing people before. Lesson plans can be complicated when you're doing them right. It's tough to differentiate instruction for the many different types of learners you will undoubtedly have in your classroom at the same time. Kids who are angry, hungry, tired, high, and/or sad aren't going to learn much, but you're still responsible for making sure that they do. You may be asked/expected to do unethical things, like assign passing grades to students who have failed or adjust attendance records. You may not have any support from administration or parents or both. You may be accused of picking on kids, being mean, bullying, or yelling when you didn't do any of those things, and it will be challenging to defend yourself against those claims. You may not have any support at your grade level or in your subject area. You may not have enough prep time at school to get all your planning and grading done, so you might find that a lot of your personal time gets eaten up by school stuff. You might get sick often, especially during your first year. You may not have enough resources like textbooks, desks, dry erase makers, paper, technology, or kleenex. You may have students who are completely apathetic about school and learning, even when you bend over backwards to get to know them and develop engaging lessons and activities. You may have extremely large classes, like over 50 students in a classroom that is meant to accommodate 25.

    I could go on, but I'm sure that you get the general idea...

    I love being a teacher. I won't lie, though. It's not easy.
     
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  21. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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