Sierra's View: The Struggles of Being a Teacher.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Struggles of Being a Teacher.

Yea, I look like that everyday at school, too...
I have been avoiding writing this post because I feared that it would come across as too negative or pessimistic. I was worried that the many mothers of children whom I have been a teacher of would read this and be offended. Mostly, I worried that people would think that I hated my career as an elementary school teacher. Which is not the case. At all. Yet, I felt the need to finally publish this to the "world."

I am a 6th grade elementary school teacher. I love my career. 
But, no, I do not love it everyday.
There are days when I go home and just lay on my bed in a daze due to physical exhaustion.
There are days that I sit in my classroom after school and cry due to emotional exhaustion.
There are days when I want to just scream at my students. 
Being a teacher is wonderful. When a child understands a concept and you watch them grow, I swear, there is not a better feeling. I love connecting with my students and watching them succeed in all facets of life. But it is hard. And every month when I look at my paycheck, I want to cry. Not because I care about tons of money, but because I think of all of those late hours in my classroom and hours grading and planning and it just doesn't seem fair. 

The struggles of being a teacher: 
First, exhaustion. Yes, I understand that many careers require an exponentially more amount of energy than the energy that is connected with being a teacher. But, I am talking about the pure, indescribable exhaustion that hits your mind, body and heart every day, every week, and every month. I am talking about the kind of exhaustion you feel when a child's parent comes into your room after school and explains that her child has done nothing wrong, when he is clearly not doing what he should in your classroom. The kind of exhaustion where you sit in your chair and listen to a mother critique and almost yell at every thing that you are doing wrong, just because her son got into trouble. It's the kind of physical exhaustion where you are on your feet all day and you ache. It's the kind of mental exhaustion where your brain hurts from helping 30 students understanding multiplying fractions over and over and over again. 
But, the thing that gets me the most is the emotional exhaustion: watching a child struggle every single day and he can't academically succeed because his or her parent won't support him. Dealing with a child with divorced parents. Watching children deal with bullying and drama and the awful crises of a hormonal pre-teen life. It's exhausting. 
But the hardest part is doing everything you possible can to help the child and it completely backfires.
I cried to my principal this afternoon in my classroom. Yep. Cried. In front of my principal. Because I have almost dragged myself to death to help this child in my current class. I have loved him, supported him, and challenged him to succeed because he has struggled with friends, with school, and with other academic and emotional issues. And today I was told that he may switch classes because "we may not be a good fit." It was a source of anger, frustration and sadness in me. Because the child is still struggling, he and his parents have given up on me. And it's heartbreaking. It feels as though they are attacking my character. They are using me as an excuse. When really, I am not the problem. They just use me as the problem. Because it is easy to use a teacher as a target.
Can you imagine?
Giving everything your 100%, trying to love a child who least deserves it, fighting and working with him, and his parents just give up on you? 
It's heartbreaking. And not fair. Why do I have to be pushed done because your child is not progressing? Did they ever stop to think that it's not me thats the problem. It may be their "perfect" child. 
Something that parents need to remember is that teachers are humans. They expect us to fix and solve every problem. We are their teacher, you are the parent. I'll do my job and you do yours. 
I have had some wonderful parents. Seriously, amazing. They are supportive and helpful and kind and willing to work with me. 
But, to those parents who critique every single thing your teacher does: stop. It's not fair to the child, to you, and mostly, to the teacher. We are human. Please remember that. 
(Note: Now, I know there are many times to stand up for your child's education. But when you see a teacher who loves his/her students, plans curriculum and is trying his/her best, PLEASE, please, for the benefit of everyone, stop being so anal retentive). 
Please remember that your child is not perfect either. 
I know that it is difficult to hear negative things about your child and things that happen at school. But, students act differently at home and school--sometimes worse, sometimes better. So please remember that we are not demeaning your child's character or potential by explaining their struggles to you. We simply want them to succeed. 

I will support you and your child if you support me as a teacher. 
And yet, I continuously get knocked down if I make ONE mistake. What if I did that to the parents? There are so many issues that I see from parents. Far more than I see from teachers. Do you see teachers showing up at parent's doors and telling them to fix things? No. 
So, what if, before you critiqued everything a teacher does, you critique what is happening at home?

The hardest part about constantly being told what you are doing is wrong, is that it starts to wear on your emotional sense. I start questioning my skills as a teacher and as a person. And that's not fair. I am a good teacher. I do everything to make sure that my students succeed. I love them like my own children. I wish that was seen more often.

Some food for thought. 


  1. Well said! You are such a great teacher and your students will remember that forever.

  2. it's so hard to not feel it's personal when a parent blames you for their child's failure in the classroom. most teachers i know take that criticism and try to be honest about their role in the child's success or failure in school. but, as teachers, we can only work with what's given to us. i can't help a child change who has so many battles to fight every day that s/he can't even understand where to begin. i've cried over so many students because i DID feel i let them down, even if my part in their failure was so small in comparison with the parents. it always makes me angry when i hear parents criticize teachers for doing things they themselves are unwilling to do. i hope your principal was willing to go to bat for you, even if the outcome is that the child will be moved. sometimes it's okay to let a student go. you will understand someday that there are kids you can't help. hopefully, the student succeeds in another classroom. but if not, maybe then the parents will take a look at factors beyond the classroom. hang in there. teaching is definitely not for the faint-hearted. but it will make you a better mom, wife, and teacher to go through these experiences. i know you're a great teacher. don't doubt it, based on the word of a few parents.

  3. your such a great teacher and i might add a darling one also! keep your head up cute gal! xo

  4. You are by far the BEST teacher that my daughter has had. She still talks about you. Your 'teamwork' attitude that you instilled in her class last year is still going strong now. The kids from your class still play and work together as a team at recess and during combined grade activities because that is what you taught them. I have never taught grade school but when I taught esthetics to students ages 16-53 I know the feeling of frustration when you have given a little of yourself to make their education experience positive but yet parents want no consequence for a child that cannot follow simple classroom rules. Remember the good times to counter the bad. Some things will be out of your 'control bubble' and you just have to move on. If you dwell on it it will bring you down. Jack wants to know if we move North if you can be his teacher now. He was never in your class but from the loving comments of your past students he wants you as a teacher. Hope that gives you some comfort or some silver lining on a cloudy day...

  5. Ugh. Helicopter parents. The "my child can do no wrong" attitude is just astounding to me. Lay the blame elsewhere, don't admit wrongdoing, raise the child to believe he or she is perfect? What kind of adult do you think you're going to get?! I *hate* being the teacher attempting to cajole a parent into accepting that his kid DID IT WRONG. No, I didn't GIVE him a failing grade, he EARNED a failing grade. GAH.

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  8. This was a very helpful post for me being a first year teacher. I am on holiday break and a part of me does not want to go back. I keep telling myself that those kids need me. It is my mission.

  9. This was a very helpful post for me being a first year teacher. I am on holiday break and a part of me does not want to go back. I keep telling myself that those kids need me. It is my mission.


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