What To Do When You Hate Teaching

Disillusionment is common to most of us involved in the teaching profession. We all deal with it at one point or another. But what do you do when you hate teaching?

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From dream to reality

Here’s the general path many of us take:

  • You major in education because you want to change the world
  • You realize that in order to teach, you need a find a job
  • You go through disappointing interview after disappointing interview and are told if you had more experience, you would be perfect for the job
  • You get frustrated that the only way to get experience is to get the job they won’t give you because you don’t have experience
  • Some school district that was not your first choice offers you a chance…finally
  • You take the job because it may be the only chance you get
  • You sign your contract and start to get excited
  • Then you show up…
  • Things are not as they were presented to you in the interview
  • You only have 30 minutes for lunch
  • That storage closet where you stored all of your new classroom supplies you bought was cleared out last weekend to store outdated textbooks…and your stuff disappeared
  • You get bus duty from 7-8am and from 3:30 to 5pm twice a week
  • Oh, and faculty meetings are held in your classroom every week
  • So are the make-up faculty meetings for those who missed the first one
  • And the make-up-make-up faculty meetings for those who missed the first two
  • Your classes are overfilled, but the school has put in a requisition for new desks and money should be available shortly after the new budget is approved September 1st

And while you are dealing with all of this, you are expected to teach children who would rather be home playing video games and eating bon bons. They were texting all summer long, and no dumb teacher is going to tell them no.

Oh wait, I’m sure this has never happened to anyone else.

What to do when you hate teaching

So after all of this, it’s no wonder so many new teachers run to Google searching for “I hate teaching” and “how to control kids in class” and other such terms. I know because these things drive people to my blog every fall. So what do you do? You have a few options:

  1. Quit in the middle of the first month of your teachingcareer – This doesn’t bode well for your future career, even if you leave teaching. You either have to hide that job on your resume or admit that you bailed even before the first grading period was over.
  2. Tough it out exploring other options the rest of the school year – This isn’t fair to you or the kids. No sense prolonging the inevitable and making the students suffer through an entire school year living with one of the most dispassionate people on campus.
  3. Figure out how the great teachers do it – I like this option the best, so we’ll explore it more in-depth.
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During my first two years of teaching, I hated teaching. But I stuck with it because I knew that I liked the concept of teaching. You can read more about them here: Why I Hated Teaching During My First Two Years

So what did I do? Here’s a sort of step-by-step procedure of how I saved my teaching career.

I asked questions

I annoyed the oldest teachers in my school and other band directors I had worked with by asking so many questions. Specifically, these seven Questions That Will Save Your Career:

  1. How Do I Keep My Students Quiet?
  2. How Do I Keep My Students Engaged?
  3. How Do I Keep My Students Interested?
  4. How Do I Keep My Students Learning?
  5. How Do I Keep My Students Away From Me?
  6. How Do I Keep My School Administration Happy?
  7. How Do I Keep My Sanity?

I recorded my classes

I listened to what I said, how I said it, what the reaction was, and how much background noise was going on in the classroom. Using these recordings…

I identified problem areas
I noticed when some things didn’t go the way I expected and sought out corrective solutions. I went back to some of my mentors and had new questions to ask them. And, I also sought out answers on my own…

I researched solutions

Along with asking all sorts of questions from all sorts of people, I found books. Nowadays, many people just run to Google to search for the solutions to these problems. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. In all odds, this is how you came across this site!

Ultimately, it boils down to whether you will be reactive or proactive. Whether you will take charge or play the role of victim. Here’s the takeaway: Millions of people have taught kids and done so exceptionally well. You can too, it’s a matter of whether you will seek out the solutions that are available. My recommendation: Stick with it!

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.

6 Comments on What To Do When You Hate Teaching

  1. what a rotten profession, it is not even a profession it is crap, students are brought up to be rude and disrespectful, parents and administrators are fools

  2. I am back after stepping away for a few years. This is my first year back.
    I can’t wait till the end of the year. I’m not sure whether to leave the profession or not.

  3. Can’t believe how miserable this profession is. Most problems start at home, and this is no different: it’s PARENTS’ job to educate their kids on manners and how to be respectful human-beings. Teachers give you knowledge on a subject matter. They’re not there to teach discipline.

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