Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Why So Many Teachers Still Hate Their Jobs Now

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Teachers rally in Chicago in September 2012.

I am beginning to hate getting out of bed each morning to teach.”

So reads one comment on a post we put up around this time last year — a post about the precipitous drop in teacher job satisfaction to a 20-year low as measured by the 2011 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.

Clearly, this commenter isn’t alone, and not only because many others left similar comments.

The 2012 survey results just came out, and teacher satisfaction fell even further. Thirty-nine percent of teachers told the MetLife Foundation they were “very satisfied” with their jobs.

It’s the lowest job satisfaction number the survey’s recorded since 1986.

Screenshot / MetLife Foundation

Teacher job satisfaction since 1984, according to a survey from the MetLife Foundation and Harris Interactive. Click on the image to enlarge.

The survey’s authors peg the decline, like they did last year, on shrinking budgets, ballooning stress and a drop in professional development and collaboration time.

Or, as an anonymous StateImpact commenter put it:

“Teachers have no support, or even curriculum. I am seriously considering leaving the profession. My work is devalued constantly, parents cannot be bothered to help their children, and the only professional support available comes from overwrought colleagues.”

The Wrong Kind Of ‘Change’?

To go beyond the percentages, let’s highlight a few of the comments we received about last year’s low teacher job satisfaction numbers. From John Holbrook:

Bureaucrats unfairly judge teachers using test scores, tie teacher performance and pay to meaningless test data, ruin careers, and keep termination hanging over the heads of teachers. When you point this out, it’s dismissed with “change is hard.” Not if you’re safe behind your desk at an advocacy group, Sandi Jacobs. More importantly, it’s change that we don’t need. Once you control for poverty, American schools are among the best in the world. Problem is, we have a lot of poor kids. Seems like the “change” bureaucrats and advocacy groups should be making is making sure poor kids are fed and that they’re in school. Instead of legislating test scores, I’d like to see someone legislate that. Then we teachers could shrug our shoulders as these same advocacy groups and bureaucrats cry about the impossibility of their task and reply “Yeah, well, change is hard.”

From SickOfIt:

Teachers do not become teachers for the money. It is truly unfortunate that districts, driven by state mandates, are wasting our energy and time on changes….just to appear as if something is being done. Change….just for the sake of change. Teachers need to be allowed to do their job effectively. Instead we are blamed for the failed system put in place…..the “non negotiables” that we are required to teach, that gives us no time to do what really needs done. The public has no idea what we are asked to do and how bad things are. Teachers are powerless…….we need to stop blaming teachers and unions for the problems created by the distrcis and government. I work a minimum of 60 hours a week and teach my heart out……I am tired if the disrespect we receive in return for what we give of our personal lives on top of work time. Yes…there are horrible teachers….lets stop treating the majority as if they are too. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. The government and districts are ruining our children’s opportunity to receive a quality education.

‘Stop Whining’? A Back-And-Forth In Our Comments

Jason Suggs wrote:

What is it about teachers that they assume they should be immune to the same problems as everyone else. Most people have seen their incomes drop because of the economy. And the worst thing a teacher has gone through is see a collegue lose a job. Give me a break. Teachers are like spoiled children. I saw we just fire the one who complain the most and things will get a lot better.

NoWhiningInSchools added on to Suggs’ comment, saying he (or she) is a third-year teacher, “fairly new to the profession”:

The worst part is the complainers! I am surrounded by teachers who say its impossible and don’t even follow the curriculum and complain about being “spied” on by admin, they say they hate their jobs regularly and I just think THEN LEAVE! I have several qualified young new teacher friends who’d be happy to take their spot! I hear “keep doing all that extra (differentiation) stuff and so much small group and your going to burn out fast!

…to which abrilmonte replied:

Ha! you truly sound like you are in your 3rd year. Stay in the same school for at least 6 years, and then you can talk.

Read the full 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher here — and let’s build on this conversation. Should teachers be more receptive to changes? Are they “whining” too much? Or are policymakers and legislators charting a dangerous course?

Share your thoughts in the comments section — just keep our Mailbag rules in mind.

Comments

  • A View Through My Eyes

    Sadly, I don’t think people on the outside really understand why teachers appear so unhappy.

    The majority of teachers love their job, but many also wish to leave. They love their subjects and they love their students. I rarely hear teachers complain about their actual job. Most people hate their job for the same reasons that I left IPS. The pressure from policy makers and the ever increasing expectations with an ever decreasing level of resources.

    I love my current district, but I have told my wife that if we leave the area I will look at other possibilities before I consider teaching again. The schools hiring are the same schools that are firing. I could not go back to an atmosphere remotely like IPS.

    • kystokes

      Thanks for weighing in. I enjoy reading your blog!

      • http://icebrc.blogspot.com/ A View Through My Eyes

        Thank you for the exposure you have given. Over the past several months I have been wanting to get more involved and I figured the first step would be to start talking to those already on the same page as I am. Keep up the good work.

  • Stu Bloom

    Yes, no and yes.

    Teachers should…and usually are…willing to change. Teachers change every year…there are new laws from the state and federal government, new initiatives from the central office, new curriculum, new teaching methods, and most of all, new students every year.

    The thing that teachers are upset about all over the country is inappropriate change. Change for change’s sake isn’t necessarily good. The privatization which is happening all over the nation is hurting public schools. Money is being drained from the public schools yet the most expensive children to educate are being left for the public schools…since the public schools take every student who walks in their doors.

    Are teachers whining too much? If a complaint is justified it’s not whining. What other profession has its directives issued by those outside of the profession? The loudest voices in the so-called “Reform” movement are not those of teachers…but of hedge fund managers, billionaires and policy wonks. We have education experts working in our schools. They need to be included in the discussion. Did you know that the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, the man who is the nation’s representative of the public schools has never attended a public schools…never taught in a public school…and has no educational credentials. He was a professional basketball player and has a degree Sociology. Would we expect the Surgeon General to be a doctor? Of course. Would we expect the Attorney General to be a lawyer? Obviously. The Secretary of Education should be an educator. Educators need to be included in the national discussion about education.

    There are people who object on ideological grounds to public education. There are people who object on economic grounds to public education. There are people who object on political grounds to public education. Those people, along with entrepreneurs, and billionaires with too much time on their hands, are working to privatize the public school system. Vouchers, corporate run charters paid for with public funds and run with no public oversight, are slowly but surely taking public money away from our public schools. In Indiana we elected a super majority in both houses of the legislature and they are doing their best to replace the public schools with private and corporate run charter schools.

    Is this what the public wants? Apparently, because the privatization of public schools is not a partisan issue…it’s being led by Democrats in Washington and Republicans in Indianapolis. I’d like to see public education be supported by the legislature and other public officials instead of shortchanged…

    • http://icebrc.blogspot.com/ A View Through My Eyes

      “The Secretary of Education should be an educator. Educators need to be included in the national discussion about education.”

      If it would do any good, I would scream this from the rooftop. Bureaucrats and billionaires are running our educational system and leaving the experts behind. How are they going to attract the “brightest minds” when those people are the type to first notice this atrocity.

  • SICKOFBULLSHIT

    “Parents can NOT be bothered to help their children” ENOUGH FUCKING SAID!!!

    • Lily

      ^^Intelligence at its best.

  • Stressed out

    What about the attitude we put up with from nasty children’s parents. The parents are now useless, and school administration just slaps the kids
    on the hand and they come right back into our rooms and are just as disrespectful as they were before you called home! Tired of trying to teach with no support system in place, at home or in the workplace. It is the worst I have seen in 24 years…it is tiring trying to be a ” Highly Effective” teacher under these conditions. I am desperate to quit. It is not so easy, you lose almost all the retirement you have been working so hard for. So how do these people say jus quit….. Are they teachers! Do they have so much money they can just not worry about their retirements. These more I would like to say, but class keeps me from saying it.

    • over it

      parents bitch and complain- the paranoid evil ones anyways who mostly sit around all day and are on welfare
      those are the kind of people teachers hate dealing with because they are rude stupid idiots

      • atlantachick

        YEP. Lazy ass parents who can’t even be bothered to find out if and why their 4th grade child is reading on a first grade level. They dump off their kids in August and you never see them again… until they cuss YOU out because they are “sick” of you telling them about their bad, lazy, non-working child!

  • charlie

    Teachers need to stop bitching bout their job! The work 9 months out of the year, pay little to nothing for their health care, get a nice pension when they retire and if the school district does not comply w/their demands they rush for the picket line. Teachers unions should be disbanned they back the school board and the community into a corner. If you don’t like your job and if you feel that you are not getting paid unfairly then quit.

    • http://icebrc.blogspot.com/ A View Through My Eyes

      I do not know of any teacher that has complained about the job of teaching. The complaints are about unfair evaluation systems and a corrupt “reform” movement that is deconstructing our public education system.

      As far as the benefits you mention, they vary from district to district and state to state. The previous district I worked for had one of the worst retirement and health plans of any job I have had (including some part time jobs).

      The “only works 9 months” argument is a strawman. Teachers are only paid 9 months. Those months and breaks go unpaid.

      In my 10 years of teaching I have never even heard mention of picketing. In Indiana the union system has little to no power any more.

      Most teachers love their job. They just want to be able to do it. Instead we have non-educators making policy changes and curriculum requirements that makes it impossible to really teach.

      The result is that many teachers are quitting and fewer are getting into the business. If this trend continues, I will not be surprised if we see very serious teacher shortages in the near future.

    • over it

      wish I could

      I have kids to feed

    • justateacher

      You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.
      Quit? Are you aware that HALF of people teaching DO quit within five years?
      Do you know any other occupation like that? Or another occupation where your “success” is based so much on the behavior of others? It’s on me if a kid doesn’t learn because he doesn’t do homework, but it’s not on a police officer if there is crime on his beat. Ditto with dentists, attorneys, etc. who have clients who do not follow recommendations.

  • Marie

    To wonderful Jason I say this: come back to me when you can make a coherent sentence. This person proves the point perfectly that we are failing our children…Clearly poor Jason had no idea how to conjure up some sort of intelligible points…We are not complaining about pay, but rather what our job depends on. Most people have jobs that depend on THE INDIVIDUAL doing their part (excluding the normal economical down turns); teachers have jobs that depend on parents who don’t care and their children who fallow suit…When a typical person enters a profession they have at least a minimal amount of knowledge on how to do their job. A teacher walks in with little to no curriculum (which the average person had NO CLUE what a curriculum entails) and is told to turn out awesome scores…My first year was last year and I wanted to quit half way through. I had NO materials or teacher editions and no help, literally. This is a second profession for me and I want to go back to banking (BANKING) instead of this hell. I was a teller then an ABM when I got an alternative certification to teach at my daughter’s school to have summers off and be home more with her (any bankers out there understand the insane hours and stress an ABM has)…But you can have your summers, this job is not worth it…I’ll gladly go back to corporate America and get my hour long lunches, better insurance, two weeks paid vacation, bonuses when we meet our goals, and federal holidays off over this past year. Maybe we should hear from more second career people who can actual attest to the composition between teaching and other jobs instead of half wits that think they have a clue…I can tell you both sides, and teaching is not pretty.

    • Happily NOT a Teacher

      I am one of those “second career” people and I can tell you that without a doubt, I would NEVER go back to teaching. Teaching was a nightmare. I hated every single minute of it. I taught both college and high school and after a few years, I quit and decided I would never do that to myself again. The main reason wasn’t the curriculum, change, state budget cuts, or low pay. It was the students. American students are AWFUL to deal with; they are entitled brats and their parents are thorns in your side who protect them from any kind of accountability that would turn them into respectable people. After a few years of misery, I used my education degree to go into corporate training/learning & development and I LOVE it! I make a lot more money, and I don’t have to deal with mean-spirited little jerks all day and tell them how smart they are when I know they’ll find out how dumb they are once they enter the real world and can’t get a job that requires more skill than working at McDonald’s. So now when I go to McDonald’s, I just look at the people working there and I smile as I drive away in my nice car, knowing many of them are my former students.

      • Done and Done

        It’s the “mean-spirited little jerks” and all the bullshit coming from administration (in my school has no idea what K-2 classrooms should look like), the district, the time that we don’t have to complete the mundane tasks, data sheets, grades, conferences (that parents stand you up for), etc. It’s all of it. I’m done!

      • atlantachick

        OOHH! PLEASE tell me how you got into corporate training!! I’ve been looking into it for the last 2 years, looking to end my 20 year misery of teaching hell!

      • Twinster

        I am a “second career” teacher, also. I loved it for the first 4 years…hopped out of bed each morning ready to go. I taught 2nd grade for those 4 years. I was then “plucked” from 2nd grade without any chance of discussion and moved to 3rd grade. This is my 4th year in 3rd grade and I hate every minute of it. I hate all the testing nonsense, teaching to the test, and being observed under a microscope (an administrator sitting in the back of the room for an hour typing everything I say and everything the students say or do…then rating me on everything from what was taught to little Johnny deciding it was a good time to tie his shoes together, or little Susie deciding it was a good time to empty her desk to clean it out. It seems they believe we can control everything these children choose to do in a day.). I literally feel like a babysitter (I’m given the behavior problems every year because “I’m good at it”.) I’m tired of the behavior and the lack of parental support. I’m tired of the lack of administrative support.
        I completely understand your feelings and am looking to leave the profession. I’d love to know more about how you got into corporate training/learning & development.

    • WornOut3rdYearTeacher

      I had a friend who started in a very similar situation to yours last year. She quit after five months. She loved teaching so much that she went back to a better school and got hired to start again in 2 weeks and she is sadly starting to regret that decision too.

      • WornOut3rdYearTeacher

        BTW I am looking for other employment right now. Even if that means leaving my students in the middle of year which I truly don’t want to do… especially because I have a lot of the kids whose teacher quit on them last year. :’(

    • justateacher

      THANK YOU.

    • atlantachick

      AMEN!!!!!

  • Hellofriend

    The reason why teachers complain is because they’re told that they are underappreciated, underpaid and overwhelmed so my nature they begin to feel underappreciated, underpaid and overwhelmed (The Law of Association).* I have been a part of the workforce for 4 years, the same amount of time as my wife who is a teacher. She makes more money than I and obviously has a lot more time off than me. Please note that I consider myself as having a good job. She without a doubt makes up for the time off during the school year but that’s the trade-off. I think that the issue stems from the fact that most teacher, at least the teachers I know, have never worked a career outside of teaching. Therefore the preconceived notions I previously listed become reality as teachers have no other career experience to compare their current career to.** Guess what, every job I have had was demanding and frequently changed. I respect teachers and believe you need a very specific skill set to succeed within the field. I do think teachers should be paid more for the purpose of attracting more committed and brighter individuals to the field (please do not misinterpret). I also believe that in order to compete internationally, children should have a limited summertime schedule which would also merit the higher pay for teachers and allow the teacher more time to present the curriculum. Teaching is a great and rewarding career in more ways than one.

    *http://www.bcp.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/L/lawsofassoc.html
    ** http://elitedaily.com/life/motivation/perception-is-reality/

    • Eyeswideopen

      ^^You sound like the antagonist blaming the victim for getting hurt.

    • Bob

      Teachers just “think” they’re stressed and being treated like expendable robots? Not sure if you’re aware of how much our schools are decaying ethically and morally…

  • Ashamed

    My daughter just graduated from an awesome college here in Texas. She received several interviews and chose a new school about 30 min. from home. She was so excited she was bursting. Well 2 months into it she HATES it. She cries every Sunday. Her principal and CIT are not supportive at all. In fact they are demeaning and bullying to her as well as many of the teachers. This new school is in Roanoke, Texas in the Northwest ISD. The principal seems to target the new teachers and leaves the old alone. There is not support at this school and my daughter now thinks she is a terrible teacher and wants to leave the profession. Shame on them! They should be there to support instead of demoralize. I am so upset as the parent of this young adult that was so excited to begin her career. This is why teachers hate their jobs! Not to mention the lack of pay, overbearing parents, rude and out of control children. Our society has caused this. You can’t bully a child but you can a teacher!!

    • Hated it, too

      Exactly how I felt. I am not a young adult but this was my first year teaching at a public high school. I have never in my life been faced with such rude, disrespectful, and lazy kids. I went in with absolutely NO curriculum so I had to come home at night and literally dig to find materials for my classes. I paid for most of it with my own money. Like your daughter, I cried every Sunday. I also hated the filthy talk from these potty mouthed kids. The final straw for me came when I had a meeting with my principal. She met with all first year teachers. The first words out of her mouth were, “You know you didn’t get off to a good start.” Come to find out, this woman has been listening outside my classroom door! If she knew I was struggling with discipline (I teach high school kids) why didn’t she come to me early on and offer help? Instead she waits until the end of the semester to let me know if I don’t turn things around, then she won’t rehire me next year. I didn’t give her that satisfaction. I quit at the beginning of Christmas break, and I feel wonderful. I have never in my professional life felt so demeaned. Not one ounce of help from the administration. What kind of person sneaks around listening outside of doors? Oh, and football is god where I taught. I wrote up a football player and he got out of detention when he talked to the assistant principal — who happens to be the head football coach. I could go on and on. It was pure hell. The problem is not with education. The problem is the kids I taught did not appreciate or value education.

      • Quit!

        Quit. Find another job first… and quit!

    • NotTeachingAnymore

      The same garbage is happening in Orlando! I have family in Texas telling me to move there and teach! I’m not teaching anywhere… anywhere in the US at least! No thank you!! The stress of this job and the demands at home in my personal life and time are just too much. I’ve never been sicker than I have in my 2 years teaching, I never worked out less, I’ve never been so frustrated. I’m over it!

  • Mark

    To the people who say teachers are whiners I ask, “Have you ever taught?”. If your answer is NO then you don’t know what you’re talking about. Period. So sit back and shut up and maybe you’ll learn something.

    Some teachers are whiners. It’s a fact. They will whine about anything at a faculty meeting and it’s annoying. It is unfair however to say ALL teachers are whiners when some of them are simply explaining some of the issues they face on a daily basis. To illustrate my point I will give you facts about my job.

    1. I have been physically assaulted at my job more than 3 times within the last 5 years.

    2. I have sent kids who are on drugs or who have assaulted other students and nothing was done about them. They are in class the next day.

    3. I have seen administration at one school make graduation so easy that kids could miss 30 days a semester and they would still be passed.

    4. I have been called a “little bitch” for correcting student behavior.

    5. I have a friend who taught at a private school. He had no social security card and was illegal in this country. Haha. Seriously. – I just threw in that last one because I think it’s funny and everyone defends their private schools without really doing thorough research on their instructors.

    There you have it. No bitching, no complaining, just crazy facts. Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg for some teachers…and I love my job!

    So before you judge and make a blanket statement about teachers being lazy whiners, go visit a school one day and tell them you want to be a teacher and observe a day at a title 1 school. Then you can talk.

    • hellofriend

      Mark,
      “Shut up and you’ll learn something”…maybe this is why your students are calling you names and assaulting you. You have to give respect to expect respect.

      1. My cheap shot set aside, many schools are perusing integration in regards to children with behavioral issues. Teachers in some schools now have everything from “gifted” children to, previously labeled, “ESE” children. I could not imagine having to reach the aforementioned range of students in a single lesson.
      2. Again another great point in that school bureaucracy seemingly has made the following improper conclusion: vast amounts of discipline = school NOT having control over their student. Therefore the quick fix, from a principles perspective, is to simply not discipline. My agreement with you ends here.
      3. This is an arbitrary point in relation to teachers hating their job. A co-worker of mine has a severe health issue and every school she has ever went to has worked with her so that she is able to pass, despite missing an exorbitant amount of time.
      4. Get over it
      5. You do not need a Social Security card to work in the US. I bet your friend does not complain nearly as much as you do. He more than likely has perspective (see my earlier post).

      • Mark

        All good points friend! Points taken and considered.

        As far as your ESE friend goes understood however I am speaking about students who simply skip many days and are allowed to graduate missing half of the semester with no reason at all. I cannot agree with that .

        Also I cannot agree with assaulting a teacher in any capacity. Period.

        I used some specifics to illustrate to some of the casual readers that the human condition is a factor in the teaching field. Some people (including myself) forget this element

        My shut up and listen was crude…..agreed! Hahahaa. Guilty.

  • Sick and tired of haters

    I cannot stand teaching anymore. I have always dreamed of teaching since I was 15. I am a teacher and that is who I am; however, I am tired of admin telling me that they know more about my students than I do, parents who think that they know better when they don’t even care and all people who think that teaching is simply easy. There is a simple reason why the US population is getting lower in all tests. THE US is focused and driven only by test scores. There is no more thinking and creative problem solving. There are only tests to finish and study for. Gone are the days where learning is interactive and outside the box. There is only test, test and more tests. What ever happened to actually learning and growing as a person. It is so sad to see all politicians look at the US educational system with their heads shaking while all funds are being drained. The best part of all of this is that just like some of the general public, politicians are unaware of the correlation between funds and the lack of improvement in learning of the youth of today. Look at Asia, their learning and skill levels are through the roof only because EDUCATION is the number 1 priority. All professional careers are based upon the foundation that teachers build during the first years. Am I sick and tired of teaching NO. Am I sick of admin and districts that tell me that I am not teaching based on a test HECK YES. It is for that reason that I am considering quitting teaching. Tired of the bull. Tired of not being able to teach. And mostly tired of my peers thinking that it is a choice to be a “babysitter.”

  • Michael

    The problem with teaching is not teachers, not the kids, its the administration.

    It amazes me how incompetent educational administration/leadership is. If you look at the good traits of managers and true leaders, so few educational administrators have this mentality.

    They do not lead and inspire, instead instruct, command via fear. There is a resistance to change and evolution, almost as admitting make a mistake is a bad thing.

    We learn from mistakes all the time. Great teachers have this vulnerability in the classroom, and in my experience this is what makes great classrooms. Students form a community where education is a two way street. My kids teach me stuff all the time, we share ideas and thoughts in my science classes. Its a mutualism at its best.

    However, I find this is not reflected in educational administrators. Quite often, it is not the great teachers that become administrators but the ones who takes those additional qualifications and have no interest in remaining within the classroom.

    This is the real issue in education. The talented people who could effect change often choose to or are purposefully kept in the classrooms. There is almost this cookie cutter approach to teachers, that they are all the same with the same skill sets. So anyone can be a great teacher or great administrator.

    There has to be a way to evaluate and recognize talented educators and promote these people in roles allowing them to effect positive change.

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