It is that time of year again – the time of year when it really starts to sink in just how much I hate teaching. The feeling is like a massive knot in my stomach that will not go away. The knot continues to grow and convulse; a ball of stress of which I cannot rid myself. These last few weeks of school are grueling and downright depressing; they make me despise myself for picking teaching as a profession when I could have been anything else. It is no longer up for debate, I HATE teaching, and here is why:
Believe it or not, the worst part of my profession is not the low pay. Sure, I would love to be able to afford exotic vacations, a nice car, a large house, and also not have to eat pasta four nights out of the week. Yet, I can get by on the salary of a teacher and I still live a relatively happy life. My least favorite part about being a teacher is not the lack of societal respect, either. There are many people who think we do not do any work and we get all of this added time off as a bonus. They are wrong in so many ways, but I will leave that argument for another time. I am sure there are some teachers like that, but I am certainly not one of them. What I absolutely hate about teaching is not even the fact that I work all day, coach after school into the evenings, and have homework for my Master’s class to do when I get home. If I want to work out, I have to go to the gym at 4:30 AM because that is the only time I have free. I struggle to find time to fit in a social life, but neither of those reasons are what I hate most about teaching. It is not that I have school clubs before and after school some days or that students are in my room nearly every day during my lunch and plan periods. It is not even the fact that I have had 35+ students jammed into a small classroom and whenever I assign something I know there will be 180 of that assignment to grade (although grading is probably the thing I hate second most!).
In all reality, my least favorite part about teaching has to do with who I teach – the students. Those chatty, energetic, dramatic, hormonal, often smelly, kids we call middle schoolers. The reason I hate teaching, above any other sane reason, is those students. I cannot stand the end of the school year, and it is all because of them.
I am forced to spend all year with these kids. With this particular group, it has been the last two years because I moved from seventh to eighth grade with them. I have to listen to all of their drama and give them advice which means nothing in their teenage minds. I have to tell them to be quiet in class when they decide it is a good idea to sing loudly or make random animals noises like a bird, donkey or dolphin. I have to watch them awkwardly flirt with each other in the halls and try to hide the fact that they are holding hands when they walk past me. I have to constantly remind some students that my classroom is not their locker. I have to e-mail or call their parents when they are disrespectful or won’t turn work in… …or when they do something completely awesome. I have watched them grow over the past three years, both physically (many kids have literally grown more than a foot, others have not grown at all) and intellectually. I watch them socialize in the hallway and make weird fashion decisions with their clothing. I often wonder about their funny looking clothes and ask myself what spirit week theme is it, only to find out that it is just how they dress normally. I watch them smile at my bad jokes and I am forced to listen to them be brutally honest when I am just not that funny; apparently I am not fun funny most of the time. Over the past three years I have been obliged to watch these kids fail and succeed, fight and make up, laugh and cry, and transform from small, innocent sixth grade students to young adults.
The truth is, my absolute least favorite part of teaching is the end of the school year when I have to say goodbye to these kids; when I am forced to say goodbye to my kids. I am always excited for a summer filled with travel, relaxation, and a long lost social life. Yet, when I am catch myself constantly looking forward to something, sometimes I fail to enjoy living in the moment. This class of eighth grade students will always be one of the most special classes I will ever have the privilege of teaching –
I taught these students in seventh grade social studies, P.E., World Solutions, and World Geography, and in eighth grade social studies. I coached them in sixth grade track, seventh grade boys’ and girls’ basketball, eighth grade boys’ basketball, and girls’ summer softball. I ran fitness club in the morning before school and was lucky enough to sponsor many of them during their eighth grade Brain Bowl season. We played in Hoops for Hearts tournaments together. I even play on a slow pitch softball team with some of their dads. I traveled with these kids to Washington D.C. and am set to travel with a group of them to France and Spain this summer. This group of students was a brand new class at Powell the same year that I was a brand new teacher, fresh off of a move from Indiana to Colorado.
Needless to say, I know these kids extremely well. I spent much of the past two years building relationships with them. Whether it is the history nerd, the sports enthusiast, the jock, the skateboarder, the girl with the imaginary friend (seriously), the ones who created a Mr. Franklin fan club, the tremendously hyper ones, the amazingly talented singers and artists, the ones who bring me food, the loud/sassy ones, the quiet ones, and everyone else, I am really going to miss them.
This school year in particular has been full of ups and downs. I was granted a scholarship for a Master’s degree and bought a house, both of which caused extremely joy and stress. Thoughts of my stepfather’s death would still punch me in the gut from time to time. Often, I was distracted at school or stressed about life away from my professional duties of a teacher. Whenever I was feeling down, it was my students who picked me up and made this year as good as any I will ever have as a teacher.
Saying goodbye to the students would be a little easier if I knew I was going to see them again next year. The reason I hate teaching is because I have to let them go; go from middle school onto high school in a new building. I have to allow them to leave and be placed in the hands of another teacher. Maybe that is a little bit of the control freak coming out in me. Although I have only been their teacher for a short time, hopefully the impact of these three years will last a lot longer.
I guess in all honesty, I do not hate teaching at all; I love my job and those awkward teenagers are the reason why. My kids make all of the other parts of this job bearable. Thank you, students, for a wonderful three years.
Five Things I Learned Teaching With This Class
5. Do not sit in the front row at the play called, “Sheer Madness,” in Washington D.C. One of the characters, a gay barber, decided to flirt with me in the middle of the play in front of all of the students when he told me to call him. To make matters worse, our assistant principal, my roommate on the trip, made an announcement the next morning at breakfast to all of the students saying that our barber friend from the play had called me in the late hours of the night. Some kids are still questioning my sexuality.
4. When you have a good Hoops for Heart team name, do not change it the next year! During this group’s seventh grade school year, I had four students on a Hoops for Heart team with me. One of the girls came up with our team name (a play on words off of a Britney Spears song “Oops I did it Again): Hoops I did it Again. The name combined with our awesome shirts enabled us to be on the cover of the American Heart Association’s annual magazine for secondary schools. I had the same team this year, but they were resilient on the fact that they wanted to change the team name. Our new team name (a play on Miley Cyrus’ “I Came in like a Wrecking Ball”): I Came in Like a Basketball. I do not know which was worse, the team name or the fact that our jerseys involved Miley sticking out her tongue.
3. Students will immediately go and compare messages you wrote in each of their year books. Some students just cannot grasp the concept of why I would write more in another student’s yearbook than theirs. Well, maybe if you weren’t such a little brat in class…
2. While chaperoning a group of students in Washington D.C., never volunteer to sit in the back of the bus with a rambunctious group of boys. I have never in my life heard so many terrible jokes and pick-up lines; I feel terribly sorry for the girls that are forced to date them in high school!
1. Middle school peer pressure still works on adults. I ran my mouth at the beginning of the year last year telling the students I was a great dancer. Unfortunately the kids did not forget. During one of the dances, they relentlessly pressured me into a dance off with Ms. Paul. When the song came, we were surrounded in an enclosed circle by most of the seventh and eighth graders. To my dismay, the song was “Sexy and I know it”, which is just not my cup o’ tea. Needless to say, I am still reminded on a regular basis of my horrific dance skills.