I Never Wanted to be a Teacher

I haven’t done a full-on rant here on the blog for quite a while and honestly, it’s about time. This has been coming up time and time again in my social media feeds and I need to get this off my chest.

Here’s the thing: I never wanted to be a teacher.

With kids suddenly being at home and parents suddenly having to handle taking on the task of online schooling for their children, there’s been all these posts and memes about ‘oooh, now you know how hard teachers jobs are’ and ‘ooooh I’m going to buy my teacher a jug of wine for dealing with my kid’ and ‘this proves that teachers should make a billion dollars!’

And yes, teaching is hard.

But here’s the thing. Most of us parents didn’t sign up to be teachers.

We didn’t go to college with the goal of working in education. We didn’t decide that our professional passion was to teach math or ELA or health. This isn’t the job that we chose. Or even the job that we found that we excelled at.

At no point in my life have I ever said, “wow, I really want to be a 2nd grade teacher.”

And it has nothing to do with my kid, or how much I like my kid. I think my kid is awesome and I love spending time with him.

You know what I don’t love?

Working a full-time job as the Marketing Director at a law firm AND suddenly having to work a second job as his teacher.

It’s not about me simply teaching my son. It’s about already being stressed out and burnt-out and anxious and ALSO having the weight of my child’s education fall on my shoulders.

Jack is already slower when it comes to reading, I worry (and worry and worry and worry) that with this gap in his schooling that he will fall even further behind. I worry that I’m a shitty teacher because I don’t do this random bullshit way of math that they are teaching him. I worry that I’m splitting my focus too much between my REAL job that I get paid for and this BONUS job of teaching my kid.

Teachers are people who have chosen their profession because they want to do it. Teaching is their job. And good for them.

I didn’t choose this. The other parents didn’t choose this. Teaching is a profession. At no point would someone be expected to suddenly be an engineer, physical therapist, tractor trailer driver… on TOP of their normal job.

So, for all the parents out there scrambling to keep up with your full-time job from home, keep your family fed and healthy, pay your bills, teach your child(ren) and maybe even shower and get dressed… I see you. I feel you. I AM YOU. And I think we all need a dang vacation when this is all over.

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6 thoughts on “I Never Wanted to be a Teacher”

  1. I definitely did not want to be a teacher either. I knew that was not something that I would be good at when I had to try to help my younger brother with his homework. I was way too impatient. Although being annoyed with my brother was pretty much normal – isn’t what little brothers are for? I’m so thankful that since my daughter is 16, she can handle her school work without much input from me. I was a little worried that I was going to have to figure out Algebra II over the weekend but crisis averted! I can’t imagine just how hard it must be for parents of younger kids trying to help them learn while also doing their job that pays the bills. At most I have to make mine lunch or listen to her rant for 15 minutes about how much she hates the book she’s reading for English. If I had to also teach her math, english, etc., I would be even more exhausted than I already am.

  2. OMG, I am SO with you! Trying to work my full-time job while also teaching my 2 kids (one of which has special needs) is pretty impossible. I think you’ve explained my feelings exactly. Good luck!

  3. “I worry that I’m a shitty teacher because I don’t do this random bullshit way of math that they are teaching him.” THIS. And not just during a pandemic, during normal school, trying to assist my 6th grader “MOM That’s not how you do it!”….”Oh really, cuz I have the right answer and you…do not…so…”

    I’m with ya, mine are 17 (11th grade) and 12 (6th grade) so it’s not quite as much pressure over here right now, but I feel you. And I have always worked my webdev job at home (HQ is in FL/CO and I’m in IA), so I’m also used to that part, but it’s definitely an added layer making sure i’m paying attention to whatever help they might need as they navigate the new online learning process.

  4. I understand the stress. But, you’re only doing a small portion of being a teacher. You didn’t establish the routines, you didn’t plan activities, find appropriate materials, and on and on and on. I’m teaching 150 of my students online and my 4 kids at home. You’ll make it!

  5. I am a parent with two teenage high school students who are pretty self sufficient, so I don’t feel your pain personally, but I can imagine back to those days and do completely understand where you are coming from. I saw the following awhile back from a school principal and wanted to share with you in hopes it gives you some comfort that you are not supposed to be Jack’s teacher right now and that all students will be in the same situation at the start of next school year:

    I’m seeing a lot of threads online with the same general theme, so I wanted to just given a schools perspective on it all and answer some FAQs. Lots of people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by the work being sent home for kids. I hope this can help with that somewhat.

    Few points to note first :

    1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting the whole world. Let’s keep perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child’s school teacher in whatever form you choose . This is at best distance learning. In reality, it’s everyone trying to separate their bums from their elbows because none of us know what we’re doing and what’s right and wrong here.

    2) You are, and always have been, your child’s primary educator. If you decide that your child isn’t going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, that is your choice. That is your right. It is clear in the constitution. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.

    3) Schools don’t know what they’re doing either. They got no notice, no prep time and we’re told ‘continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home’ as if that is in any way possible. If it were, we’d all be out of a job very quickly. I won’t rant about my thoughts on the Dept on this, but suffice it to say your school is winging it.

    4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you’re trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.

    So, a few FAQs:

    – My school has sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!

    You’re not, don’t try. Your child’s teacher spent a couple of hours in utter panic gathering things to send home so they could say they did their best and there weren’t a lot of complaints that enough didn’t go home. It’s not a competition, or a race, it’s unlikely the teacher will even manage to look at it all.

    – My school keeps sending home links and emails with more work. How do I make it stop. Ahhhhhh

    See above. These are suggestions and ideas because the school is worried itl be said they’re not offering enough. Use them if they suit you, don’t if they don’t. If you’re getting stressed, stop opening the emails. No one will know!

    – X in my child’s class has everything done and we’ve barely started. Will they fall behind?

    Even if everything were equal in terms of support and time and number of kids etc (which its not) kids learn at different rates. In the class there’s a wide range of levels in all subjects, there’s different paces and there are many kids working on differentiated level of work. It’s almost impossible for teachers do differentiate at the moment, so you have to do it. By expectation and by time.

    Your child will not fall behind. This is all revision and reminder work. If kids could learn new concepts without specific teaching we wouldn’t need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times.

    – I’m not doing any work with my kids. All their doing is Lego, cooking and playing outside.

    All of this is learning. Very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.

    – How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?

    You can’t, stop trying. If they’re old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking etc.

    – So what’s the bare minimum you’d expect?

    For me, survival mode. I won’t pretend that may be true of all teachers, but you know what if they can’t have perspective in a time like this then I wouldn’t overly worry about their opinion anyway.

    My ideal for my kids in our school?
    – A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)
    – some free writing now and then. If they’ll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?
    – Practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games physical or digital.
    – Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.
    – Physical exercise everyday
    – Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn’t need to be guided.
    -Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.
    – If younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better.

    You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimizing stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don’t let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.

  6. I don’t have a school age kid, but I’ve been following lots of bloggers who do. Everyday Reading (Jansen Bradshaw) has some good thoughts on what she’s doing for distance learning/home schooling (can’t remember if it was a blog post or on her Instagram stories) but she and her husband sat down and just picked a few things of school work Sent by teachers for one of her kids who doesn’t quite have the temperament for “home schooling” and limit to about 2 hours a day. It was kind of a refreshing perspective.

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