The Best Time To Be A Teacher?

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Check out the video at the end of this post! It’ll make you feel better. I was reading some over at and came across a post by Howard. In it, he writes:

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last 16 years…

Teaching is only as enjoyable as the principal you work for.

Good principals are the exception, not the norm.

The best time to be a teacher is June through August.

Whereas I only have five years of experience, when I read this, I am sad. Perhaps these comments will be helpful. If you agree or even if you disagree, then leave some comments and let’s start a dialogue about these issues. I don’t think that Howard is the only one who sees things this way. In fact, there are numerous “Howards” at every school I’ve ever taught at. He loves teaching! But he doesn’t thrive and actually live for teaching like he one envisioned doing. In some ways, he has lost some of his hope. I’m not trying to pick on him or anything, I want to analyze his comments a little bit more in depth. Let’s look at some of these comments and see what can be done about them.

Teaching is only as enjoyable as the principal you work for
To me, this is a defeatist mindset. It seems like Howard has chosen to let life happen to him, rather than happening to life. Habit 1 (from Seven Habits for Highly Effective People) is Be Proactive. This means that you happen to life; you make things happen.

When I began teaching, I had no idea how to keep students quiet. I worked for a great principal. But the students would not stay quiet so I could teach them everything I knew to teach them. I didn’t enjoy teaching. I went home each night and wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had a great principal, but I didn’t enjoy it. The problem was me.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have known teachers who taught in situations with very ineffective administrators.

That’s not an attack on their character. It’s very easy to be efficient and not effective. Despite these ineffective administrators, there are many teachers who thrive in doing what they do. Obviously, they are living contrary to this principle.

To quote Chuck Smith, “Any dead fish can float down the stream. It takes a live fish to swim against the current.”

Good principals are the exception, not the norm
While this is generally true, there is good that can be found in nearly every experience you have with administrators. Maybe it’s my youth getting in the way here, but I think that everyone has something valuable that can be learned from

them. Even if it’s helping you define what it is that you want from an administrator. Again, this is a defeated person. Everyone’s out to get me. I just might as well accept that. Sad.

The best time to be a teacher is June through August
I don’t know about other teachers, but I find myself becoming extremely bored during the summer. I love being able to catch up on things that too often get neglected during the school year. I love being able to travel and visit family. But I really miss impacting lives. I know that when I grow up, get married, and have children of my own it will be a little different. I miss the smiles of the students coming in ready to learn. I miss seeing progress in lives.

Ultimately, it boils down to this:

When we base our own happiness on external circumstances, we are building a bad foundation. A wise man once said: Don’t worry, be happy. (video)

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

5 Comments on The Best Time To Be A Teacher?

  1. Our school has been through three principals since I’ve taught there, and each one did bring his/her own weaknesses and talents to the position. I have been lucky in that I have never been a target, however, the last two principals did “pick on” some members on the staff. For the majority who were singled out, the reason was that they weren’t doing their job and were not open to improving. They also did a lot of complaining about being brought into the office, when they could have improved the situation if they wanted to. I work with one teacher (who I really like personally) who sits all day, gives massive amounts of worksheets, yells a lot at the kids, offers nothing at our team planning meetings, and complains about discipline in her class. These are second graders! While she has relented and attended some of the mini classes and workshops suggested by our principal, she has said that she already knows how to teach and doesn’t plan on changing. She just wants the principal to get off her back. She just doesn’t get it. It’s just easier to be the “victim” than to take charge. This can’t even be attributed to the principal, because she had problems with the former principal as well.

  2. While I don’t think that the best part of teaching is June-August, I think that the weeks off in the summer are incredibly valuable. It’s a chance to reflect….to destress… redo a filing system or book leveling or whatever project you’d like to tackle but can never find time for…time to read a book or two….time to pay some good attention to family that can feel neglected when you’re knee-deep in papers to check and technology projects to complete. Summer break (and spring break for that matter) is a Good Thing. And I think that most teachers being honest with themselves will say that come the end of May, they need the time off. Teaching is a go-go-go job. When we finally take a breath, we realize we were even more tired than we realized!


  3. It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I was off for the entire week. I realize that Tangerine’s comments are right on target. When we are busy working, we forget that we enjoy the time off so much. When we have the time off, we forget how hard it is to get back into the swing of things again.

  4. In thirteen+ years of teaching I have worked for seven different principals in different schools, states and socioeconomic situations. I have worked for administrators at the pinnacle of their career when they have the school in ship shape and have the ease of life to manage the huge task of being principal. I have worked for principals at the brink of retirement when school boards are trying to push them out in favor of a newer model. I have worked for principals who seem (by the hours put in on campus-holidays included) to have no life outside of school and ones whose health or family circumstances hinder their job performance. What I gather from this is that the job is almost an impossible task. It is so consuming that it takes a rare person with excellent health, social skills, time management, thick skin and most of all a tremendous support system at home to be an effective principal. I know I could never handle it.

    So, while I think there is some truth to the statement, “effective principals are the exception” part of that is that they get moved around a lot (and I too have moved around a bit) and I have just see a part of their overall career. Teachers talk often of the immense job that is teaching, admins have it far harder. I think they need to be viewed with a lens of patience. Dealing with your admin 101 should be a class in teacher prep. There is so much that can be done to help that relationship.

    Teaching is only as enjoyable as the principal you work for- I disagree. We currently have an extremely challenging situation administratively. It is not unusual to be taken to task for things such as pencil grip or line order IN FRONT OF THE STUDENTS! I have give myself a pep talk before going into her office to talk about the most routine things. And, I am on the “good list.” It’s very hard on the whole school. Still, as a teacher, so much of my job is in my own room. I am fortunate to close my classroom door, block out the politics and create the school I dream of right inside the four walls of my room.

    “… only as enjoyable as the principal you work for”-true for secretaries and office staff, not for teachers!

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