I’m just about about to wrap up my second year of teaching. I’m happy to say that it is still what I want to do for the rest of my life. However, just because I love it doesn’t mean it comes easy.
Like many other professions, teaching has its own set of challenges — many of which people don’t realize or truly appreciate. I certainly did not learn of these things until I got into it. Here are some of the biggest challenges that come with the job:
1) Classroom Management
This one caught me off guard. I have no trouble teaching a topic or expounding on an idea. It comes very natural to me. What’s really challenging is, well, everything else. Students don’t know how much preparation is done outside of the classroom. I’ve spent countless hours checking papers, encoding grades, making tests, reading extra material, and preparing for lectures. There is so much work that goes into a lecture. Like any job, if you don’t come prepared and plan work in advance, you are going to make it extremely difficult for yourself.
2) Fighting Favoritism
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Teachers have favorites too. They are typically the students who recite often, submit quality work, and muster the strength to stay awake in class. And yes, we do trade stories about students we enjoy having!
I don’t think it’s wrong to have favorites. I think it only becomes a problem when teachers give special privileges and considerations to certain students just because they are favorites. This is something I keep in mind whenever I check a paper or address a concern. Every student should be given a fair chance — favorite or not.
3) Adjusting To The Class
I have held some classes where I can feel that everyone had a long week or stayed up late the night before. It’s easy to tell who is physically in class but mentally still in bed. Giving a lecture becomes extremely difficult when the class won’t participate. The vibe is contagious.
What’s even worse is that sometimes even teachers come into a class already tired. Fighting off our own exhaustion is tough. There have been many instances where I had to take a deep breath mid-lecture and just soldier through a class. I never blame my students though. It’s my job to bring life to a class, regardless of the mood.
4) Lack Of Time
I never thought I would hear myself ever say this but I absolutely hate when classes get cancelled. I enjoyed it when I was a student. I dread it now as a teacher. A cancelled class means having to adjust my entire semester to make up for lost time. It’s extremely inconvenient.Think of it like a project. Certain phases need to be accomplished before moving on. When an earlier phase gets delayed, everything else gets pushed back as well.
Back then, a class can feel like an eternity. Time seems to slow down whenever the lecture starts. It’s not the case now. Time is way faster on the other side of the classroom. The three hours I spend teaching is almost never enough.
5) Balancing Life Outside
Teachers are people too. We have problems at home, with relationships, and in the workplace. There are days when it’s hard to put up a smile and give a lecture just because our minds (or hearts) are elsewhere. But we understand that we have a job to do so we carry on with our lectures.
I like to think of it like a theater performance. It doesn’t matter what’s happening outside. The show must go on. This year has been especially heavy for me since I’m also running a company. Although, I will never make these “problems” an excuse to give a half-assed lecture. I made a commitment to give excellent work when I signed up to teach and that’s what I will continue doing.
We’re not asking for special treatment
Teaching has its own set of unique challenges. However, I know I speak for many other teachers when I say we don’t expect to be treated differently or given certain exceptions. At the end of the day, these challenges are part of our job and our commitment to serving our students.