4 Top Teachers' Stresses Don't Involve Pay

by Guy E. White on 8 November, 2014

Ask teachers: big stresses have little to do with pay.

Sit any teacher down for a candid conversation and they will tell you the major stresses they face each day. However, contrary to popular belief, the top reasons for teacher angst have little or nothing to do with pay.

Few people become teachers with dreams of that career making them monetarily rich. It is no secret that public school teachers have some of the most secure, enduring positions within the government job force. Chances are, unless you were a young teacher in the opening years of their teaching careers at the wrong time, you’ve never been pink slipped. The stresses of teaching have little to do with pay, if you ask teachers.

When I became a teacher, I thought that my largest battles would be inside the classroom: motivating students to complete work, working alongside difficult home situations, and doing all this with little in-class resources. Much to my surprise, though these were challenges, the biggest battles had nothing to do with my students.


In this recent article, I asked teachers why they would consider quitting their jobs. Here are some of the major stresses that teachers are facing:

Stress #1: Funding for Accountability, Not Creativity

Like most districts, more and more funds are seemingly allocated toward activities meant to increase student outcomes based upon performance on mandated assessments. School districts are investing thousands upon thousands (in some case, millions) of dollars toward data processing systems to measure how students do on scanned, bubble-in tests, or other computer-based assessments.

Ask teachers: they want more funds to foster activities they say will bolster student achievement, like learning experiences that involve more than pens and paper.

Stress #2: Planning, Like Teaching, is a 35-Hour-A-Week Job

For many reasons, teaching can easily take more than the stated contract hours. Some of the fault in this is in the hands of the teachers themselves, as I detailed here. However, when parent-teacher meetings, grading, and the dozens of administrative tasks in which teachers need to engage must be scheduled beyond school hours, teachers easily find themselves working 40-60 hour weeks.

Ask teachers: they want their superiors to acknowledge that the expected duties of a teacher often take more than the hours of school operation. Acknowledgement that continuing professional education takes money and time often not provided by one’s school district would also be appreciated.

Stress #3: Everything That’s Not Teaching Students

Not everything about teaching is about “teaching.” Teachers must also deal with disciplinary issues, administrative concerns, and parent communication within the course of their days. Imagine a classroom of twenty-seven ready-learners being significantly stifled by the actions of 5 not-so-ready-to-learn, defiant students.

Ask teachers: they want parents to be held to the same high expectations as those that teach their students. They want administration to have the power (and exercise the power) to ensure students don’t stifle other students’ right to learn.

What would you add to this list, teachers?

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