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20 Things Only Teachers Would Understand

20 Things Only Teachers Would Understand

When I became a teacher a long time ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! But I loved teaching, I really did. Of course, I escaped into teacher training, then management and administration but ran screaming back to the classroom. The management job nearly killed me, so thanks to teaching, I am alive and well to-day. Here are some of the things teachers and myself go through on a daily basis. Are you sure you want to become a teacher? Read about these 20 things that only teachers would understand. Then, decide if you still want to be a teacher.

1. Keep calm – you’re a teacher

If you are a trifle impatient or bad-tempered, then forget it. You will have to put up with noisy individuals, who have no interest in learning, and stupid bureaucracy at every turn, so you just have to keep calm. Of course, there are wonderful students who are a joy to teach, but they are few and far between.

2. It’s hard not to have a favorite

Watch the video below. The teacher thinks the guy’s joke is really funny – he goes on to get an award! But what about the poor guy who actually made the joke and got no credit? Sometimes, it is just impossible not to have favorites.

3. You have to be tough to stay the course

Did you know that in the USA and the UK, about 40% to 50% of teachers leave in the first 5 years. That figure is up by 30% compared to 20 years ago. Instead of concentrating on reducing teachers’ paperwork and giving them more support, the debate has centred on a minority who happen to be bad teachers.

4. Violent behavior is scary

Recently, a 16 year old was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment because he stabbed his teacher to death at a school in Leeds in the UK. That boy was a model student but changed once he had been diagnosed with diabetes.

A friend of mine does supply (substitute) teaching and she told me how scary it was when a fight broke out between two students. She suffered from PTSD for a time after this event. She is always wary when the agency offers her work and ask about her ‘behavior management skills.’ That is a clue that she might be facing violent and aggressive behavior if she agrees to teach at that school.

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5. Giving low grades can be tough

I had a Math teacher who always gave me 2 out of 10 for my Algebra homework. “I’ll be generous, I’ll give you 2,” she would shriek. I can’t believe she was finding it tough to give me what I deserved, but I did when I became a teacher. This reminds me of the corny joke where the pupil says,

Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you!

6. Questions and answers are your bread and butter

Questions, tests, grades, answers. It seems teachers have to be like the chief prosecutor in the courtroom. Then there are nasty consequences if somebody cannot answer all your questions.

Teacher: Why can’t you ever answer any of my questions?
Pupil: Well if I could there wouldn’t be much point in me being here!

7. Nobody is listening

That is what you think when you have explained something for the umpteenth time. You count to three, then try again. Water on stone, water on stone.

8. Of course you hate cell phones

Yes, you banned these but there is always someone sneaking one in and texting his friends. You know that all these devices just add to the chaos surrounding cheating in exams and also cyberbullying.

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You wish that there were an actual law banning these infernal devices from the classroom. You think fondly of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain where the regional government has actually made it illegal to have these phones in the classroom.

9. Get ready to be stared at

You have to be on stage all the time. The worst thing is that once you spill some coffee on your clothes, you are going to suffer a 100 times more than any other person would. Everybody is staring at you. When things go well though, it is not so bad being center stage!

10. Student howlers will make you laugh

One of the great things about teaching is the laughs you get from student errors in tests and in the classroom too. Here are some of my favourite ones on the video below with the ‘The Funny Teacher’, Mark Schumacher.

11. Teaching is rewarding

“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching.”- Aristotle

Let’s face it. There is a great reward in passing on knowledge and helping children and teens develop into balanced and responsible citizens (hopefully!).

12. Paperwork will probably drive you crazy

Teachers in Scotland have complained about the ‘Amazonian forest’ worth of paperwork linked to their report writing, grading homework and recording. There seems to be an inordinate time spent on entering data and then sifting through it. Teachers complain that there is not nearly enough input on how to create engaging lessons. That would be much more beneficial for both teachers and students, according to a report in The Washington Post.

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13. Teachers get stressed out

It is true that teachers are under enormous pressure from the school authorities, from parents and the students themselves. Many teachers get stressed out, but there are many ways that they can devote more time for relaxing activities outside the classroom.

14. Teachers are more likely to get ill

Working with so many people in an enclosed space is likely to lead to more viral and bacterial infections. Just a case of numbers really. Health studies show that, not surprisingly, teachers are more liable to suffer from laryngitis and bronchitis than those in other professions. Teaching students about basic health hygiene can help everybody and keeping a hand sanitizer within easy reach is always a great idea.

15. Teachers and parents have to get along

In the past it was just PTA meetings, report cards and a few conferences annually. Now both parties expect closer collaboration and that can be really helpful for the students. Parents want to know more about what is going on in the classroom and teachers are really happy that somebody is taking a real interest in their children’s progress. It’s a win- win situation and that should always be kept in mind.

16. Changes in the curriculum loom like dark clouds

Just when a teacher has got used to the new syllabus, a note from the school authorities reveals that further changes are on the way. The teacher sighs. So do the students! High school students often protest as well. Colorado high schoolers protested about the changes to the history syllabus which, they felt, would downplay the role of civil disobedience in US history.

“It’s our history; don’t make it mystery.”- Colorado students’ slogan

17. Parents who think their kids are being bullied

Of course bullying can be a serious problem. Parents and teachers can work together to solve it. But when a parent arrives and tells you that a certain pupil is picking on her daughter and must be punished, then the teacher thinks that maybe this is just one side of the story! A much better approach would be for the parent to flag up the bullying issue and ask how they can solve the problem together.

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18. Parents who complain about too much homework

When this happens, the teacher wonders how their kids will react to this. Maybe they will start to take it easy, knowing that their wonderful parents are going to solve the problem. A much better approach would be for the parents to help the kids manage their homework time better, instead of complaining and whining about it.

19. Teachers are supposed to be perfect

Every teacher has to be perfect but the reality is very different from that ridiculous expectation. Teachers get a hard time from the press and yet they are the lowest paid of most of the professions. How many perfect doctors or lawyers can you name? Now you understand why so few graduates want to go in for teaching. Why not pay them more and give them better working conditions?

20. Help! I’m sinking

When a new teacher walks into the classroom, he or she faces enormous challenges. Just think of the behavior issues and how to manage a large class. Also, they are crying out for support in making really great lessons plans and how to deal with a few brats in the class who can ruin everything. Next time you meet a new teacher, smile at her!

So, you still want to be a teacher? Great! Let us know in the comments how an inspiring teacher at school helped you make that choice.

Featured photo credit: Olympic Week – Teacher for a day/ Chicago 2016 via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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