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10 Ways We Make Teaching Too Hard For The Average Human These Days


10 Ways We Make Teaching Too Hard For The Average Human These Days

Teachers aren’t superheroes, so let’s stop expecting them to do the impossible.

Teaching has never been an easy job. Ever since the first caveperson decided to sit a group of cave kids down and explain how to build a fire, teaching has not been for the faint of heart. These days, however, teaching has taken on a whole new level of impossibility. In fact, unless you have superhuman abilities, there’s no way you can actually do everything a teacher is supposed to do. Basically, teachers are expected to be superheroes every single day. But…we’re actually just human.

Here are just a handful of the ways teachers are expected have special powers:

1. Forming a personal and meaningful connection… with every one of your 150 students.

Teachers know that the most effective way to get children to learn is to develop a relationship with them. This might have been easier years ago when most teachers saw the same small, easy-to-handle group of students all day every day. Now with overcrowded classrooms and multiple period changes, many teachers see over 100 kids a day. If you wanted to spend 1 minute a day with every student that would take nearly 2 hours! So how can we possibly pull that off without the use of a time machine?

2. Figuring out how to distance 25 students in a classroom built for 15.

Social distancing is a brand new wrinkle this school year has thrown us. And even though some of us held out hope that the plan of attack would be well thought out and organized, it was… um… not. Government guidelines requiring us to spread students out in already cramped quarters are laughable and yet here we are trying to bend the laws of time and space to make it a reality. Has anyone tried nailing desks to the ceiling?

3. Needing to cram an infinite amount of knowledge about education in your head

You can’t just roll out of bed one day and become a teacher. No matter where you go, schools require you to be college-educated which is fine for the average normal human being. But once you become a teacher you find out that all that learning wasn’t nearly enough! There are workshops and trainings and a never-ending stream of professional development that you must endure until the end of your teaching career. How can a normal-sized brain even hold that much information?

4. Developing a bladder of steel

Teachers can do amazing things. We can inspire entire generations, connect our students with experiences from around the world… and we can go hours without peeing. Which of these is the more impressive task? That’s not for us to judge, but the next time you’re feeling froggy try drinking an extra-large coffee then waiting 5 hours to use the bathroom.

5. Working an impossible number of hours

A lot of things in life will change, but one thing that’s constant is that there are 24 hours in a day. No mere mortal can change that fact, and yet here are teachers being asked to find a magical 25th hour somewhere. Teachers show up early, stay late, go work other jobs, then still need to go home cook a meal, and maybe (if they’re lucky) find time to actually sleep. Normal humans require about 8 hours of sleep a night to be fully functional in the morning.

6. Becoming the ultimate multi-tasker

It’s hard enough accomplishing one impossible task in a day, but what makes teachers so insanely superhuman is that they have to do multiple impossible things AT… THE… SAME… TIME! There we are delivering high-energy lesson plans, keeping students on task, maintaining safety protocols, and being ready at the drop of a hat for whatever administration throws at you. You would think the only way to pull that off would be to clone yourself, but here are teachers somehow managing to keep it all together.

7. Developing an almost other-worldly immune system

Being a teacher means coming into contact with every germ known to man. Long before COVID reared its ugly head, teachers had routinely faced off against flus, colds, coughs and who knows what else. If any segment of the population has the immune system capable of battling COVID, it would have to be teachers. Getting sneezed on for 10 straight years will do that to you.

8. Being a source of calm in the midst of chaos

Even the most mundane of school days aren’t exactly mundane in the normal sense of the word. There are always thousands of things going on at the same time and you never know when a fire drill or surprise observation will pop up out of nowhere. This doesn’t even factor in the insanity of teaching during full moons, or the week before a vacation. And yet no matter what is going on, it’s a teacher’s job to maintain order and keep students calm no matter what happens. It’s like keeping your hair in place in the middle of a tornado.

9. Dodging an ever-present amount of helicopters and lawnmowers

Imagine running your typical obstacle course. Now imagine you’re being chased by a gaggle of oversized lawnmowers, while perilous helicopters swoop down from above… oh and everything is on fire. That is what teachers deal with every day. As if trying to do our jobs isn’t superhuman enough we have to deal with parents that want to overstep their boundaries or bowl us over so their child can get that magical good grade.

10. Carrying the weight of the world’s expectations on our shoulders

Superheroes may be strong, but few of them are mighty enough to literally carry the weight that teachers bear. It seems as though everything rests on our very worn out shoulders these days. If a child fails, it’s because we didn’t work hard enough. If a child gets sick it’s because we weren’t safe enough. If the test scores are low it’s because we didn’t prepare our class enough. Teachers aren’t superheroes, and shouldn’t be expected to carry the weight of all these responsibilities and expectations.

Come connect with other educators in the Empowered Teachers community.

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10 Ways We Make Teaching Too Hard For The Average Human These Days

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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