So today I read this Yahoo! article on the 10 Unhappiest Jobs today, knowing full well prior to reading it that teaching was going to be on the list. Here's the jist of what was said about why teaching is miserable.
"CareerBliss has found through our research that teachers appear to be quite happy with their work and their co-workers. However, the rewards for their work, lack of support and lack of opportunities to be promoted counteract many of the good parts of the job."
I mostly agree. On any given day, I usually enjoy my job. I thrive in the craziness that teaching is. My eyes are usually open for those lovely little teaching moments, where the kids get totally enthralled in something that probably wasn't planned for the day, and I'm okay with that. I even love doing report cards, seeing on paper how my kids have grown, or seeing what areas need work, and then the challenge of planning how I'm going to work with the kids on the concepts that need development. My students become my kids - I go to bed worrying about little "Judy" whose mom has gone off the deep end, hoping that Dad can pick up the pieces of her shattered little world for her. I worry about "Jim" who just can't seem to understand subtraction, and racking my brain (and usually the internet) trying to come up with a new way of presenting the information to him. I worry about "Sally" and wonder why she has taken to throwing tantrums over nothing. I worry about "David" who is reading at a 2nd grade level, and I wonder if I'm not doing him a disservice by not challenging him enough.
I am fortunate enough to be at a school that I love. The principal and the APs demonstrate that they truly do care about the education their students receive. They show that they are in this to make this the best possible learning environment (while still following state and local standards) that they can. The rest of the faculty are easy to befriend, and you can just tell by their demeanors that they are in their job to be the best teachers they can be. I feel supported by my co-workers, and I even feel that when I need a pat on the back telling me I've done a good job, I am awarded that.
The parts of the job that make me miserable are the "little things." Like the fact that despite busting our butts all year (and yes, ALL YEAR, not just 9 months) for what some claim to be a miserable salary (I don't have a problem with my starting salary for the record), our yearly pay increase is around 1%, which adds up to an extra $33 per month. Like the fact that when little Johnny or Suzy doesn't bring in school supplies, I'm the one who pays for them. Or if I want to do a really cool science project or art project, the money for the supplies comes from my salary. Or that I can't use the bathroom when I need to because I don't have someone to watch my classroom, which means I drink less to avoid unnecessary bathroom breaks, which means I get dehydrated and my personal health is jeopardized. And when parents want to speak to me about their child (which is good!) but they get upset and angry when I don't respond immediately to their text/e-mail/phone call, which just happens to be between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. and how dare I continue teaching the rest of the class when their child needs to be discussed?! Or a child has physically assaulted a teacher, and the parent is insistent that the teacher must have egged them on for them to behave this way. The pressures from the district and the administration to follow standards or teach a certain way that goes against our mores as educators (like teaching to the test). And the feeling that I'm never quite doing enough even though I'm busting my butt ALL YEAR to make this a great school year and an amazing learning environment.
I would be lying if I said there were days where 2:55 p.m. rolled around and I collapse at my desk (or table) and just cry. Cry out of frustration, anger, fear, more frustration and anger, and whatever else went wrong that day. I would be lying if I said that I had students, co-workers, parents, etc. that made me so frustrated and angry that I longed for a punching bag to let loose with. I would be lying if I said there were many days where on my drive home I swore I would not teach another year because why should I have to put up with this crap? I would be lying if I said on those days that I went home and started seriously considering other careers - I could use the bathroom whenever I wanted, expense things I needed for my job, make more money - and the list could go on! I would be lying if I said that I didn't have sleepless nights worrying about my students, wondering what I could be doing better while planning my lessons, fretting about the disagreement with a co-worker, and again the list could go on.
I would also be lying if I said that I could quit teaching and never look back. I would be lying if I said I wouldn't miss those "lightbulb" moments for each and every student, those moments that give teachers their high. I would be lying if I said I wouldn't miss the beautifully hand-drawn masterpieces of self-portraits, butterflies fluttering through fields of brightly scribbled flowers, and butts. I would be lying if I said I wouldn't miss the joy that comes with seeing the progression that each child goes through on their own timeline. I would be lying if I said I wouldn't miss the camaraderie amongst the faculty while doing extracurriculars together. I would be lying if I said I wouldn't miss those rare and fleeting times when all students are behaving, learning, cooperating, and being the ideal class. And I would be lying if I said I wouldn't miss those little moments of gratification when your student hugs you and says, "I love you, Mrs. K." Or even those moments when a kid slips and calls you "Mom". Or the times when one of your little troublemakers looks at you after a particularly interesting day and says, "You're the best teacher ever."
I have the happiest unhappiest job that there might be.