Public School Teachers Share Frustrations

Elementary Teachers

In this meeting, I spoke with 4 teachers. You’ll see no individualized comments – only comments made by someone from the group.  We had teachers from grades 2,3,4, and 5. As we have these teacher meetings, it is apparent that the teachers we talk with are not happy with their jobs.  They are very frustrated about many things, among them, their pay, the lack of management support, and discipline issues.

Notes from this session:

Colleges of education are failing to train teachers in how to deal with the students and situations teachers face in class.  They focus too much time on social issues and too little time on curriculum and what it’s really like in a classroom.  The fact that their classrooms will have a number of unruly children never comes up. (Editor’s note:  If the actual classroom situations were part of the training, we would have even fewer students wanting to teach.) These teachers have not had a pay raise in two years and don’t expect one any time soon.

While she was in school, she felt the school and her classes were comfortable and safe. She went into teaching to offer this same comfortable and safe environment to her students. She is very sad that this has not been possible for her to accomplish.  (Editor’s note: she has tears in her eyes as she admits she is unable to fulfill her reasons for teaching.)

This teacher, along with the others, were very impressed by their own teachers and some can recall all of their names.  This youthful admiration turned them into teachers, but they do not believe that their students will feel the same way about them.  Too much chaos in their room; not nearly enough teaching.  Way too much lack of respect.  

Today’s environment in their classrooms is very upsetting, the student’s attention spans is very short – teachers blame this on technology and our society.  There used to be consequences.  Schools sugarcoat bad things to keep the parents from knowing what’s going on.  

When they were young and got into trouble at school the parents might well punish them at home.  In today’s world, the parents seem to have lost any loyalty to teachers and blame them for everything that is wrong.  It’s the teacher who is the guilty party. 

If there are consequences to be metered out it is totally the teacher’s responsibility.  The district has eliminated things like no recess, going on field trips, etc. as control tools for the teachers. They are worried about a lawsuit from one or more parents.  School systems are easy targets for lawsuits because they settle cases and pay a negotiated amount to make the case go away.

Another teacher on why they chose to be a be in the classroom.  During most of his early life, his father was in jail, so he never had a father figure to emulate.  All of his early teachers were females, so he missed out on male role models there as well.  He chose to teach so other children would see a male in the classroom and possibly benefit from the experience.  

He has had some very strange experiences as a teacher.  One year he taught a class that had 31 kids 17 of whom had behavioral problems.  One girl would run out of the room every day; he had a great deal of trouble keeping her in class.  One day he showed a film and sat her in his seat behind the desk.  He never noticed her pick up the phone and call 911.  As you would expect, all hell broke loose with the police and fire department arriving at the school.  When they figured out what happened and asked her why she made the call she said it was to get the teacher in trouble.  She didn’t like him.  

One day the kids were so bad he said no recess for anyone – 8 kids came to his desk and screamed at him to get even.

One year he was assigned a first-grade class that had already caused two teachers to quit teaching.  He was told by the administration to not worry about teaching anything, just keep the kids from getting hurt. 

Another teacher started her career in a charter school and loved the job.  The problem that caused her to leave is there was no teacher contract; none of the teachers had contracts.  

Later, in a public school a child latched on to one of her hair braids and would not let go.  Unable to touch the child, she held her braid up in the air with the child attached and carried her to the SLC center (Student Learning Center) where a person with the proper skills got the child to release her grip.  Another event centered on her foot surgery.  One of her students stomped on the sore foot to show her contempt.

The no touching rule was enforced in their schools.  Recall that a child is having a fit, throwing things, swearing, etc. the teacher is not allowed to touch the student; in particular they are not allowed to force the child out of the room so school could continue.   So, the teachers evacuate the room until the mother comes and settles the child down. In order to make it a major issue a teacher must do this three times in one day before school management gets involved.  

Here’s another example of a strange evacuation.  The child having the fit was blocking the door so the room could not be cleared.  The teacher called the office and they said they would have the school maintenance man remove the screens so the kids could climb out the windows.  

(Editor’s note:  How much learning is taking place with all of these disruptions – my answer NONE.  These policies are completely opposed to what he school ought to be doing – teaching!)

One teacher was discouraged from going into teaching because her family said she was too intelligent to become a teacher; it would be a waste of her potential.  She defied them and went into teaching anyway.  She recently won an outstanding teaching award.  

How do we fix these problems?

They say kids don’t get to play and be kids.  They are given computers and spend large amounts of time playing games or whatever.  They have not learned how to interact with each other.