The Challenges Teachers Face – Part I

Teaching is a difficult profession. There’s no way around it and there’s no reason to sugarcoat it. The simple fact remains that the idealized version of what teaching should look like is significantly different than what it actually looks like.  Teachers today face many more challenges than those who came before them.

In this three-part series, we’ll explore some of the hurdles teachers come up against as they try to navigate each school year.  Hopefully this will give a better understanding of what teachers face each year as they look to maintain a high quality education for students.

Perhaps the biggest challenge teachers face is the public’s misconception that teachers work part-time. Whether it is said directly to their face, or in the comments section of any educational article, teachers are continuously being told they should be more grateful that they work so few hours.

Not only are they told that they work less than eight hours a day, but they’re told repeatedly that they have paid summers off.  Neither of these so-called facts could be further from the truth.

While the typical school day is six and a half to seven hours long, this does not include the time teachers spend in the building before and after school, nor does it include for the hours teachers spend working at home.

At least 75% of teachers spend an average of 8 1/2 hours a day at school. This represents the time teachers spend in the school building. Most teachers spend an additional 1 1/2 hours a day working from home.

The reason teachers spend an average of forty-seven hours per week working is paperwork.  Grading tests, making class schedules, creating projects, grading papers are all part of the work that cannot get done during the day when kids are in class.

From special ed accommodation logs to lesson plans, data from standardized testing, attendance reports, and behavioral health risk assessments, teachers always have a stack of paperwork they need to complete on any given day. The challenges teachers face are many and public misconceptions and paperwork are only some of them.

In a typical school calendar, students receive roughly two and a half to three months off for a total of ten to eleven weeks. But many school districts require teachers to complete professional development courses during the summer.  Teachers are also required to take continuing education classes to maintain their teaching licenses.  Teachers get an average of six to seven weeks off during the summer.

The time they are off during the summer is unpaid. While teachers can opt to stretch their paychecks to last over the summer months, this results in a much smaller paycheck all year long.  So, unlike paid vacations in the corporate world, teachers do not get paid time off.