Teaching Stressful? Only if You’ve Never Had A Real Job

Teaching should not be on this list of high stress careers. The list includes doctors, firefighters, accountants, and stockbrokers. Teaching has nowhere near the high demands those jobs do. For one thing, the cost of failure (for individual teachers) is very low. When doctors screw up, people die. Ditto firefighters. If I screwed up as a lawyer, my client could lose years in jail. If I screw up as a teacher, maybe my students won’t understand the Monroe doctrine. Not the same thing. For another, you’re working for the man. It’s not like being a solo legal practitioner where you only eat what you kill. The checks are steady. Also, unlike in corporate America, where the axe can fall at any time (especially now that we got that depression on), you really have to try to get fired. As long as you come to work every day and don’t sleep with your students, you will always be a teacher. Finally, even if teaching was stressful, you only do it half the year. At no time will you go more than four weeks between days off work. In other words, there’s lots of recovery time.

Really, of all the jobs I’ve had – retail, food service, roofer, cheep laborer, lawyer – the only one teaching might be more stressful than is roofer. And that’s only because I was just part of the crew, rather than being the guy who had to go get the jobs.

Not only does it not belong on the list, they don’t even get the correct stressful parts:

Students aren’t always easy to control or motivate. Parents who can’t understand why their children aren’t doing better often place the blame with teachers. And pressure to prepare students for standardized tests means they can’t always stick to the lesson plans they’d prefer to teach.

If you’re weak, some of that might be bad. If you aren’t afraid to crack some heads (figuratively), the students won’t be problems. As for parents, if you take the time to talk to them, they’ll almost always take your side. And if they don’t? Who cares. The tests aren’t stressful themselves, though the article is correct that they do take time from other activities. That is disappointing, because the students miss out on enriching stuff. It’s not really stressful, though.

The biggest stressor in teaching is all the stupid hoops you need to jump through just to be in the classroom. In education, for every teacher, there are about ten people whose salaries are determined by how much teacher time they waste. Really, one day I’m going to file a FOIA request for the master spread sheet that co-ordinates board member pay to teacher time stolen. The result is state requirements, parish requirements, school requirements. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. All of it a pain in the ass, and none of it any use at all. Nothing but meaningless paperwork and deadlines that take time which could be used for actual teaching. If all the bureaucrats and administrators would simply let teachers teach, there would be no stress at all in this job. Having all that extra time and energy to dedicate to the classroom, we’d also all do it much better.

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