The life of a teacher and why it is so hard (2023)

Overworked and understaffed, many American teachers are at a critical point. They need time and something even more precious: support.

Teaching the next generation has never been an easy race, but the last two years have tested the educational community like nothing else in our lifetimes. Unfortunately, the worst may be yet to come as the challenges to effective education continue to mount. “This is a great profession and educators love what they do, but unless we start treating them better, there is likely to be a widespread teacher shortage,” says Dr. Lynn Gangone, president of theAmerican Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Of course, I'm not an educator, just someone who interacts every day with these world-changing visionary people. I wanted to let the teachers speak for themselves and that's why I was so honored to be in Wyoming.Teacher of the year 2016, Amy Pierson, agreed to share what a typical day in her teaching life looks like. Nearing completion of her Ph.D., Pierson is a member of the State Board of Education and also teaches fourth grade at Cloud Peak Elementary School in Johnson County School District #1.

She's clearly a role model educator, but that's just one of the ways Pierson positively impacts the lives of her students. This is what she wants people to know about the life of a teacher.

Why teach?

No one knows exactly what they sign up for when they decide to become a teacher, Pierson says. "For as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a teacher, even playing with my dolls at school as a child," she says. “I wanted to work with children and change their lives.


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"To be honest, life as an educator has changed dramatically in the 17 years I've been in this profession."

Rather than ask why educators chose their profession, Pierson says we should ask why they stay. For them the answer is simple. "I'm staying because I think I can make the biggest difference here," she says.

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Although she has had the opportunity to leave the classroom to take on other roles, Pierson doesn't want to leave. “The students are the ones who bring me joy. It is her ability to grow and learn on a daily basis that inspires me to keep doing what I do. Watching them try and fail and then succeed is a gift that I get to experience every day,” she says.

"I stay for the students."

just a day in the life

Pierson, who teaches in a 50% special education, 50% general education classroom, arrives at school between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. m. and she makes small changes to meet all the different learning needs in her classroom. Sometimes, she would also schedule staff meetings or IEPs before the bell rang.

At 8:05 the children come and it begins. After students fill out their planners (a communication tool they take home daily for parents to sign), some go to Pierson's associate teacher to work on life skills, while the rest use the next 10 minutes to work on life skills. . The rest of the day usually looks like this:

  • opening
  • mathematics
  • Specials (Sports, Music, Arts, Science, Leadership, Technology)
  • break
  • the reading group
  • Reading in the whole group.
  • break for lunch
  • Write
  • break
  • Social Studies/Science

That's the plan on paper, but of course, effective teaching requires constant calibration. "We're constantly reviewing small assessments or actions to make sure they're mastering the content and that we're really giving students what they need," says Pierson. "Not to mention, if I start a lesson and find it doesn't meet their needs, I need to be able to instantly switch and make a change right away."

Pierson's lunch is usually spent preparing for the rest of the day or tomorrow's classes. Teachers have 20 minutes to eat, then 20 minutes to get ready or go outside for breaks that Pierson has twice a week.

In addition to actual time spent in the classroom, Pierson also has staff meetings on Tuesdays, team meetings on Mondays, SPS meetings on Thursdays during planning, and Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) meetings on Thursdays after the school. She also has bi-weekly IEPs, parent meetings, BITs (Building Intervention Team Meetings), and training and professional development to accommodate where space is available.

At 15:05 the farewell bell rings and Pierson and his colleagues get to work to organize tomorrow's day. "Based on the data we collect, we determine how to structure the lesson the next day," she says.

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He doesn't stop when he goes home. "Most nights I also juggle parental calls while trying to cook dinner for my own family and answering questions about medication changes and behavioral effects, make-up work, schoolwork questions, problems with friends, etc. to respond," says Pierson. "Most weekends I spend a day working at school to catch up."

more than teach

What many people don't realize is that teaching is just a role that teachers fill in the course of a normal day. "It's not just the academics that we worry about or can only focus on," says Pierson.

Children spend hours with their teachers every day, and (as any parent can attest) they need much more than just academic instruction. “Teachers are encouraged to help students solve peer problems that come up in the classroom and during recess,” says Pierson. “Help the students find a coat because it's 0 degrees and they didn't come to school with their coats. Listen as students recount their night when Dad didn't come home. Feed them when they are hungry.

"We are teachers, counselors, nurses, parents, facilitators, caregivers, cooks, friends, safe havens, disciplinarians, and creators of 'future citizens.'"

personnel problems

As they juggle these many demanding roles, most teachers in America find themselves in the classroom with little or no support. With two certified teachers, a paraprofessional, and a deaf educator in the classroom, Pierson's classroom is unusual in its abundance of staff. "It allows us to really address the learning needs of each group of children and pick them up where they are," she says. "Not all classrooms have this luxury."

If effective teaching is difficult in crowded classrooms like Pierson's, imagine what it must be like when you're the only adult in the room, tasked with educating, managing, and at some point in the day trying to inspire a packed room. children's

Pierson remembers her days as a one-on-one teacher, when it was harder to make sure group work stayed task-based. “I needed to use the important class time to set up my classroom and practice the skills they would need to be independent at work when I wasn't with them,” she says. "I had to creatively design lessons that would help establish a skill, but not be so difficult that they couldn't figure it out without further guidance."

Even in crowded classrooms, the demands continue to push teachers to their limits. "There have been a number of surveys that suggest that many teachers are at their tipping point and are planning to leave the profession," says Gangone. "It's heartbreaking."

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exam lessons

Another struggle Pierson shares is the constant balance between teaching the material and teaching how to take a test. As he strives to create lessons that allow his students to grow in problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, he admits it's getting harder.

“As much as I struggle, as much as it pains me to say it, we are constantly preparing students to take an end-of-year test that will tell us if they have mastered everything they know by fourth grade.” She says. "A test that I really don't think represents the skills or knowledge my students have mastered. A test that doesn't assess their problem-solving skills, creativity, communication skills, or collaboration with others."

What teachers need most

I asked Pierson about her greatest need as a teacher, something that would help her in her work. Her response was immediate: "I need the gift of time or something taken off my plate."

However, more time is only part of the big picture of support. "I also need the confidence of parents, legislators, administrators, school board members, and the general public that I'm doing my job," Pierson says. “Trust that I am the expert in my field and that every decision I make is in the best interest of the students I teach.

"As a professional, it would be nice if you trusted him."

Pierson is quick to add that he doesn't think educator evaluation should be eliminated. "Thinking about my practice is something that helps me grow and is something I need to keep up with my profession," he says. "However, when people constantly criticize, belittle, or push their agenda into education, it ultimately prevents educators from doing their job and it is the students who suffer."

Instead, communities should unite around their educators. "Write things on the paper that lift up the teacher's voice, that show the amazing things educators can do," she says. "And if you hear a rumor, instead of blindly spreading it, talk to an educator and most of them will be open about your concerns and provide reasons to support your views."

Gangone agrees: "We must work to ensure that teachers have the support they need, including adequate pay and school funding."

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The future of teaching

The lack of people entering the educational field.precedes the pandemic- which of course hasonly made things worse. A record number of teachers in the US feel overworked and burned out, and their students see it every day.

While the life of a teacher is clearly challenging, Pierson has nothing but encouragement for young people who view education as a career. "Do it!" She says. “I love learning more than teaching and in this job you have to keep learning. Prepare to fight for what you believe is right throughout your career.

"Some valuable people will count on you."


Why is it so hard being a teacher? ›

Teaching is a valuable and rewarding profession, but it can also be tiring and exhausting. Teaching is arguably more difficult now than it has ever been for a variety of reasons, including learner behavior, fast-changing technology, and poor compensation.

What is the most difficult thing about teacher? ›

10 Challenges Of Teaching & How To Overcome Them
  1. Understanding the different learning challenges amongst students. ...
  2. Student family problems & bullying. ...
  3. Lack of funding. ...
  4. Lack of effective communication. ...
  5. Being encouraging and motivating under challenging times. ...
  6. Disciplining students. ...
  7. Endless paperwork & extended working hours.

What is the biggest challenge in your life as a teacher? ›

One of the most common and pressing classroom challenges for teachers is the fact that some students are not receiving adequate support outside of the classroom. While teachers can work with students while they're at school, students need support from their parents as well.

What is most important for a teacher answer? ›

A good teacher is one who can make the maximum use of the minimal resources available to teach the students to provide a joyful learning experience. So, a teacher has to be most importantly an expert in teaching skills which will help them to present the content knowledge they had of their concerned subject.

Why is being a teacher stressful? ›

The Causes Of Teacher Stress

Teachers work longer hours than many other positions, which often leads to burnout and stress. Some of the many contributing factors are lack of resources, work-life balance and political issues.

Why is being a teacher so exhausting? ›

It's estimated that teachers make about 1,500 decisions every school day. When you combine those decisions with all the necessary self-regulation involved with teaching kids, it's no wonder our willpower is gone by five o'clock. We are exhausted.

What is the most difficult skill to teach? ›

With listening skills usually requiring a considerably long period of time to acquire, normally involving the student experiencing a variety of emotions ranging from depression and frustration through to exhilaration and pride, teaching listening skills is one of the most difficult tasks that a teacher faces.

What are some things that are difficult to teach? ›

  • Tying shoelaces.
  • Whistling.
  • Eating with cutlery.
  • Riding a bike.
  • How to tell the time.
  • Buttoning a button.
  • How to swim.
  • Brushing their teeth.
Apr 20, 2020

What do you find most frustrating about teaching? ›

Read on for my solutions to some of the common frustrations of teaching.
  • Frustration 1: Students arriving late.
  • Frustration 2: Phones in class.
  • Frustration 3: Students speaking in L1.
  • Frustration 4: The dreaded silence.
  • Frustration 5: Mixed-ability groups.
  • Frustration 6: Being observed.
Aug 10, 2020

What qualities make a great teacher? ›

The Top 14 Qualities that Make a Good Teacher
  • Adaptability. Adaptability is a must for teachers, who need to continuously evaluate what's working for their students — and even more importantly, what isn't working. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Engagement. ...
  • Active Listening. ...
  • Lifelong Learning. ...
  • Free of Bias. ...
  • Respectful Attitude.

What is the biggest challenge in teaching interview question? ›

What is the biggest challenge in teaching? This question will give the interviewer a good idea of where your frustrations lie and what, if anything, you will need to make up for. Think of something you can work toward making better and that you feel would be a challenge for all teachers.

What motivates you to be a teacher? ›

The best reason to be a teacher is that you want to have a positive, inspiring impact on children's lives. You achieve this by being kind, caring, empathic, passionate and funny. These are great qualities that a teacher should possess.

What is the most important goal of a teacher? ›

The ultimate goal of teaching is to promote learning. For the most part, learning takes place in many different circumstances and contexts. Although everyone is capable of learning, a student's desire to learn is a vital to mastering new concepts, principles and skills.

What are the 5 most important characteristics of a teacher? ›

Top 5 Qualities of Effective Teachers, According to Teachers
  • Ability to develop trusting, productive relationships.
  • Patient, caring, kind.
  • Knowledge of learners.
  • Dedication to teaching.
  • Subject matter knowledge.

Why is teacher burnout so high? ›

Teaching is a rewarding yet demanding career. With long hours and a heavy workload, it's easy to fall prey to teacher burnout. Without proper support, teachers are in danger of being overworked and not taking care of their own mental and physical health needs.

What stresses teachers out the most? ›

A low salary, a lack of respect from parents and a lack of a work-life balance also were high on the list.

Why do teachers feel overwhelmed? ›

High Emotional Demands

If a work environment lacks the support needed to fulfill this responsibility, teachers can understandably feel overwhelmed. Additionally, teachers frequently find themselves supporting students who have experienced trauma.

Why are so many teachers depressed? ›

high job demands. lack of resources or support from school districts. stress from juggling teaching and other responsibilities.

What is the easiest class to teach? ›

10 Easiest Subjects to Teach
  • Math. Math is a subject that is mainly conceptual. ...
  • Physical Education. If you're like most people, you probably dreaded having to go to gym class when you were in school. ...
  • Art. ...
  • Music. ...
  • Science. ...
  • Health. ...
  • Spelling. ...
  • History.

Which of the four skills is the most difficult to teach and why? ›

Writing: It is the most difficult of the four language skills. It requires a command over vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. When children graduate to writing short paragraphs, it also involves establishing links among different sentences.

Is teaching becoming more difficult? ›

The stress and pressure that comes from the job have become increasingly overwhelming. Long gone are the days of just teaching content. Teachers are expected to do more with less time and less financial support. Each year something more is added to our plates, but nothing is taken away.

What is one of the hardest lessons in life? ›

Lessons In Life Quotes One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it's guilt, anger, love, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go.

What is the most difficult thing in school? ›

The 9 Most Frustrating Things About Being A High School Student (And How To Overcome Them)
  • Trying To Meet High Expectations.
  • The Amount Of Homework.
  • Getting Involved In Extracurriculars.
  • Sitting Through Boring Classes.
  • Stressing About Grades.
  • Worrying About Social Issues.
  • Dealing With Stress.
  • Understanding Your Classes.
Jan 27, 2018

Why are teachers frustrated? ›

Frustration and anger arise from a number of sources related to thwarted goals including students' misbehavior and violation of rules, factors outside the classroom that make it difficult to teach well, uncooperative colleagues, and parents who do not follow appropriate behavior norms or are perceived as uncaring and ...

What are the strengths and weaknesses of a teacher? ›

Teacher – What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Sample answers included)
  • communication and social skills.
  • patience, responsibility, tolerance.
  • ability to solve conflicts, emotional intelligence.
  • creativity and enthusiasm for teaching.
  • ability to explain difficult things in a simple way.

What is your weakness as a teacher? ›

So as a recap, the four answers that you can give when being asked, what are your greatest weaknesses, are, I focus too much on the details, I've got a hard time saying no sometimes, I've had trouble asking for help in the past, and I have a hard time letting go of a project.

Who is a teacher in simple words? ›

A teacher, also called a schoolteacher or formally an educator, is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence, or virtue, via the practice of teaching. Pedagogy, subject knowledge; competence in teaching the subject, in curriculum, in learner assessment; psychology; planning; leadership.

What is my strength as a teacher? ›

Being able to communicate efficiently and effectively is one of the keys to teacher strength. Teachers constantly communicate with parents and their students, so being able to engage others and share their opinions efficiently is crucial. Additionally, empathy is another key trait that teachers must maintain.

What is a good weakness to say in a teaching interview? ›

Lack of technological knowledge (such as a specific software) Reliance on routine – inflexibility can cause conflict. Perfectionism – this can be a tall order especially when dealing with children. An incomplete understanding of a specific skill – but a willingness to learn is important.

Why should we hire you? ›

“I should be hired for this role because of my relevant skills, experience, and passion for the industry. I've researched the company and can add value to its growth. My positive attitude, work ethics, and long-term goals align with the job requirements, making me a committed and valuable asset to the company.”

Why do you want this job? ›

Talk about specific examples of how you can help this company achieve their goals and highlight any relevant transferrable skills that will make you stand out as the right candidate. Write down any recent achievements you can talk about or any challenges you've faced recently that might be related to this new job.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about teaching? ›

Workshops where you can learn or teach different methods of teaching are a big motivators. There is nothing more motivating than having an invigorating discussion with like-minded people about the subject of your passion. Conducting a workshop can be a lot of fun with great learning opportunities.

What keeps you going as a teacher? ›

I stay present in the moment, pause, check in with self and others, and then move forward in care. I find that this way of approach keeps me centered, empathetic, and calm. “The daily work and practice with the children and my colleagues keep me going as an educator.

Is being a teacher one of the hardest jobs? ›

Teaching, as anyone who does it will tell you, is a grueling, demanding, and unforgiving profession. Teachers work long hours for low pay, grading papers at night and planning lessons on weekends.

Is teaching a good job for introverts? ›

Introverts can be teachers. They may not lead school assemblies or direct the marching band, but they play a critical role in every school. If you're an introvert who's passionate about teaching, don't hold yourself back—go for it!

How hard do teachers really work? ›

Full-time teachers worked nearly 3 more hours per day than part-time teachers. On average for all days of the week, full-time teachers worked 5.6 hours per day and part-time teachers worked 2.8 hours per day.

What is the #1 hardest job in the world? ›

Top 30 Hardest Jobs In The World
  1. Military. Coming first on our list of the hardest jobs in the world is the military.
  2. Healthcare Worker. There is just no rest for a health worker once the shift begins. ...
  3. Alaskan Crab Fisherman. ...
  4. Iron and Steel Worker. ...
  5. Roofer. ...
  6. Cell Tower Climber. ...
  7. Firefighter. ...
  8. Oil Rig Worker. ...
Mar 30, 2023

What frustrates teachers the most? ›

Read on for my solutions to some of the common frustrations of teaching.
  • Frustration 1: Students arriving late.
  • Frustration 2: Phones in class.
  • Frustration 3: Students speaking in L1.
  • Frustration 4: The dreaded silence.
  • Frustration 5: Mixed-ability groups.
  • Frustration 6: Being observed.
Aug 10, 2020

What grade is hardest teaching? ›

Standardized Testing May Cause Grades 3 and Up to Be the Hardest Elementary Grades to Teach. Many educators argue that the hardest elementary grade to teach is one with standardized testing pressures.

How do I know if teaching is right for me? ›

Signs You Should Become a Teacher
  1. You care about our future. ...
  2. You want to make a difference. ...
  3. You're a great organizer. ...
  4. You are good at giving directions and getting others to follow. ...
  5. You are patient. ...
  6. You have a good sense of humor. ...
  7. You're optimistic. ...
  8. You're a good storyteller.
Jun 10, 2021

Is teaching a good career for someone with anxiety? ›

You can still be a great teacher, even with social anxiety. But you do have to take care of yourself, be proactive, and listen to your doctor.

Can a person with anxiety be a teacher? ›

Yes, you can be a teacher with social anxiety. Here are tips for teachers to be less nervous when teaching. If you're a teacher experiencing social anxiety in school, there are many ways you can manage your condition and succeed in the profession you love.

Why teachers are quitting 2023? ›

Clip: 04/10/2023 | 17m 51s | Staffing shortages, burnout, funding cuts, and debates over the curriculum are adding to the pressures on America's educators. In her new book, bestselling author Alexandra Robbins followed three teachers to see how these issues are changing the way they work.

How many teachers quit within 5 years? ›

Up to 30% of new teachers are quitting their job within 5 years of teaching. 13% of teachers reported quitting their job due to not getting paid as much as they should have been paid.

What percent of teachers get fired? ›

Echoing these arguments is Century Foundation senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg who recently wrote in an article for the “American Educator” — a magazine published by the AFT — that “2.1 percent of American public school teachers, including tenured teachers, were fired for cause.” This is based on data from the National ...

What percent of teachers enjoy their job? ›

About 60% of teachers are happy with their careers.

While many teachers say they find their work fulfilling and are generally happy with their work environments, many are dissatisfied with their salaries. With only 28% saying they rated their pay at either four or five out of five stars.

Is it hard for a teacher to get fired? ›

It's remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in California, a Times investigation has found. The path can be laborious and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings.


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