The Problem With Teaching

Yesterday in the Twitter Roundup, I included a link to an article about teacher job (dis)satisfaction. It purports that teachers are more dissatisfied with their jobs now than they were 20 years ago.

I lack quantitative data to support this in my own experience, but I certainly have qualitative data. When I first started teaching 12 years ago, I worked hard, and I worked a lot (70 + hours a week often) but I also had a social life. I dined with friends, I visited museums, I saw movies–all on school nights.

Yesterday as I was getting my hair cut, my amazing hairdresser and I talked nonstop about a variety of topics, including how we each struggle to really take care of ourselves. And sure, the conversation ended up focusing on weight loss, nutrition, and fitness, and she told me about a program that worked for her, but that life circumstances caused her to give up for a while. She was thinking about restarting, and she told me how much she loved it.

So I looked at the website, and the program (it looks slightly more doable than CrossFit or Insanity), and the classes are offered at the following times: 5 AM, 6 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:30 PM, 5:30 PM, and 6:30 PM. My wheels turned: all the morning times except 5 AM are out, because I’m teaching. 4:30 and 5:30 are out, because I teach piano lessons. So if I was to commit to this, it would either be 5 AM or 6:30 PM.

5 AM would be a mess for me. I’m not a morning person at all, and even though exercise is just as important as sleep, getting up at 4:30 to prep for a 5 AM intensive exercise class would be doubly challenging. So 6:30 PM. I could do that.


I advise the newspaper, which means I am often at school well past 6:30 PM. I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to convince myself that I could wake up at 4:30 AM for 10 weeks.

And then this morning, I realized that I was letting my love for and dedication to teaching dictate what I do well outside of the school day.

That’s not okay. And it validates the Washington Post article. Is maybe part of the job dissatisfaction that teachers feel they cannot enjoy other aspects of their lives, set personal goals, or be social? How much guilt is wrapped up in taking time for family or self?

Am I the only teacher that thinks these things?

I still haven’t decided if I’m going to submit to the torture chamber of extreme group fitness, but I’m thinking more about setting better boundaries, to ward against resenting my job. I have to stop letting my school responsibilities dictate what I do at 6:30 PM.

One thought on “The Problem With Teaching

  1. YES! You know what they say about empty cups and all – something about not being able to help others if yours is empty. When I taught Yearbook I insisted on NOT working weekends. The kids had been used to doing that with the previous adviser, but I refused to get in the habit – I really really really wanted to protect MY life. It wasn't easy but I also think I wasn't the most dedicated teacher. That article you shared reminded me of why I don't miss teaching and why I dread every having to go back. It takes just the right school/teacher/principal/students environment to make teaching emotionally healthy.


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