For the most part, teachers are undervalued and underappreciated. This is especially sad considering the tremendous impact that teachers have on a daily basis. Teachers are some of the most influential people in the world, yet the profession is continuously mocked and put down instead of being revered and respected. A large majority of people have misconceptions about teachers and do not truly understand what it takes to be an effective educator.
The Silent Majority
As in any profession, there are teachers who are great and those who are bad. When adults look back on their years in school, they often remember the great teachers and the bad teachers. However, those two groups only combine to represent an estimated 5% of all teachers. Based on this estimate, 95% of teachers fall somewhere in between those two groups. This 95% may not be memorable, but they are the teachers who show up every day, do their jobs and receive little recognition or praise.
The teaching profession is often misunderstood. The majority of non-educators do not have any idea what it takes to teach effectively. They do not understand the daily challenges that teachers across the country must overcome to maximize the education their students receive. Misconceptions will likely continue to fuel perceptions about the teaching profession until the general public understands the true facts about teachers.
What You May Not Know About Teachers
The following statements are generalized. Though each statement may not be true for every teacher, they are indicative of the thoughts, feelings, and work habits of the majority of teachers.
- Teachers are passionate people who enjoy making a difference.
- Teachers do not become teachers because they are not smart enough to do anything else. Instead, they become teachers because they want to make a difference in shaping young peoples’ lives.
- Teachers do not just work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with summers off. Most arrive early, stay late and take papers home to grade. Summers are spent preparing for the next year and at professional development opportunities.
- Teachers get frustrated with students who have tremendous potential but do not want to put in the hard work necessary to maximize that potential.
- Teachers love students who come to class every day with a good attitude and genuinely want to learn.
- Teachers enjoy collaboration, bouncing ideas and best practices off of each other, and supporting each other.
- Teachers respect parents who value education, understand where their child is academically and support what the teacher does.
- Teachers are real people. They have lives outside of school. They have terrible days and good days. They make mistakes.
- Teachers want a principal and administration that support what they are doing, provide suggestions for improvement and value their contributions to their school.
- Teachers are creative and original. No two teachers do things exactly alike. Even when they use another teacher’s ideas, they often put their own spin on them.
- Teachers are continuously evolving. They are always searching for better ways to reach their students.
- Teachers do have favorites. They may not come out and say it, but there are those students, for whatever reason, with whom they have a natural connection.
- Teachers become irritated with parents who do not understand that education should be a partnership between themselves and their child’s teachers.
- Teachers are control freaks. They hate it when things do not go according to plan.
- Teachers understand that individual students and individual classes are different and tailor their lessons to meet those individual needs.
- Teachers do not always get along with each other. They may have personality conflicts or disagreements that fuel a mutual dislike, just as in any profession.
- Teachers appreciate being appreciated. They love it when students or parents do something unexpected to show their appreciation.
- Teachers generally do not like standardized testing. They believe it creates added unnecessary pressures on them and their students.
- Teachers do not become teachers because of the paycheck; they understand that they are usually going to be underpaid for what they do.
- Teachers dislike it when the media focuses on the minority of teachers who make mistakes, instead of on the majority who consistently show up and do their jobs on a daily basis.
- Teachers love it when they run into former students who tell them how much they appreciated what they did for them.
- Teachers hate the political aspects of education.
- Teachers enjoy being asked for input on key decisions that the administration will be making. It gives them ownership in the process.
- Teachers are not always excited about what they are teaching. There is usually some required content that they do not enjoy teaching.
- Teachers genuinely want the best for all of their students: They never want to see a child fail.
- Teachers hate to grade papers. It is a necessary part of the job, but it is also extremely monotonous and time-consuming.
- Teachers are consistently searching for better ways to reach their students. They are never happy with the status quo.
- Teachers often spend their own money on the things they need to run their classroom.
- Teachers want to inspire others around them, beginning with their students but also including parents, other teachers and their administration.
- Teachers work in an endless cycle. They work hard to get each student from point A to point B and then start over the next year.
- Teachers understand that classroom management is a part of their job, but it is often one of their least favorite things to handle.
- Teachers understand that students deal with different, sometimes challenging, situations at home and often go above and beyond to help a student cope with those situations.
- Teachers love engaging in meaningful professional development and despise time-consuming, sometimes pointless professional development.
- Teachers want to be role models for all of their students.
- Teachers want every child to be successful. They do not enjoy failing a student or making a retention decision.
- Teachers enjoy their time off. It gives them time to reflect and refresh and to make changes they believe will benefit their students.
- Teachers feel like there is never enough time in a day. There is always more that they feel they need to do.
- Teachers would love to see classroom sizes capped at 15 to 20 students.
- Teachers want to maintain an open line of communication between themselves and their students’ parents throughout the year.
- Teachers understand the importance of school finance and the role it plays in education but wish that money was never an issue.
- Teachers want to know that their principal has their back when a parent or student makes unsupported accusations.
- Teachers dislike disruptions but are generally flexible and accommodating when they occur.
- Teachers are more likely to accept and use new technologies if they are properly trained on how to use them.
- Teachers become frustrated with the relatively few educators who lack professionalism and are not in the field for the right reasons.
- Teachers dislike it when a parent undermines their authority by denigrating them in front of their children at home.
- Teachers are compassionate and sympathetic when a student has a tragic experience.
- Teachers want to see former students be productive, successful citizens later in life.
- Teachers invest more time in struggling students than any other group and are thrilled by the “light bulb” moment when a student finally starts to get it.
- Teachers are often scapegoats for a student’s failure when in reality it is a combination of factors outside the teacher’s control that led to failure.
- Teachers often worry about many of their students outside of school hours, realizing that they do not always have the best home life.