Tuesday’s Teacher: 14 Common Misconceptions About Teaching

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Talking Teachers

I found this amazing blog topic generator and decided to try out one of the suggested topics for a change. So I typed in teaching, and this is one of the ideas that popped out: 14 Common Misconceptions About Teaching. I may have to change this to 10 or 15 common misconceptions, because 14 is just a weird number. It might be even, but to my logical brain, 14 is just a number that you would never pick for a list! (Or, you know, I could just be crazy…)

Anyway, teaching is a new thing for me. I’ve only been teaching for a year and a half now, but there’s no doubt in my mind (or anyone’s who knows me) that I have teaching in my blood. No one else in my family teaches, but it’s there nonetheless. Even though I’m a newbie when it comes to teaching, I have many thoughts on how some people think teaching really is. Hopefully I can come up with… 14.

  1. Teacher’s don’t have summer vacation. They have summer days away from students. I can almost ensure that 95% of teachers are either running camps, tutoring, or continuing their education during the summer months. For us newbies, we spend the summer months (if we are smart) planning our curriculum for the new school year. It’s a LOT of work. So yes, we may get paid to work from home, but just this afternoon I got home from a four hour work binge. It was NOT fun, but necessary. In addition, teachers return to school up to a month before the students do. You may think we have a long vacation, but we also work after the students leave for the summer.
  2. Teachers don’t know everything and they don’t have complete control. Fact: I didn’t give your child an F because I hate them or felt like it, I did it because they earned it! Also fact: If it takes me a few hours to return your phone call or email, don’t arrive at school or go to my supervisor about it. Most teachers (myself included) reply within 24 hours of contact, and when we don’t reply right away we are either: in class, seeking an answer to your question, working with a student who is struggling, monitoring the hallways or lunchrooms or recesses, or we FINALLY got the chance to use the restroom.
  3. Not every teacher feels they deserve more money. Also a fact! I believe we would all take more money if someone tried to give it to us, but some of us are not so preoccupied with our paycheck that we forget why we became teachers in the first place. Another fact: I truly hope that I am not in the minority when I say that I don’t worry about my paycheck, but about helping the students and impacting lives.
  4. Fact: Good teachers utilize the resources available to them; showing a video relative to the topic being taught does not mean that I am slacking or feel like taking a nap in the back of the classroom. However, if you are a lazy teacher, this fact does not hold true.
  5. Not all teachers speak Spanish these days! This might not be assumed by everyone, but it is definitely not true. I even work at a school that emphasizes Spanish language proficiency and some of our student meetings are led in Spanish. Half of us, we don’t understand a word. Sorry to those of you in America who do not think that it’s necessary to speak English in school. (Maybe more on this topic later, but I’m not trying to start a debate here…)
  6. We may do the same thing day in and day out (at least for a school year), but our lives are never boring, plain, or easy. Please, let’s not even elaborate here– it shouldn’t be necessary.
  7. My job is not to discipline your child, teach them how to use the potty, or raise them on my own. Truth, I may spend more time with them during the months of September-June than you do, but it’s really not my fault. I am in no way their parent, though they can always come and talk to me if they need anything. Most teachers make it a priority to look out for their students, but we can’t be Mommy and Daddy to 100 or more students a year. Sorry parents, you’ll just have to help out…
  8. In most situations, we are not our own bosses, even when we are in the classroom alone with our students teaching a lesson. Also note: if you work in a public school, half the time you don’t even get to make those lessons on your own terms. There is something to be said for teaching all students the same way but there is another story when you consider that all teachers teach in different ways; these two things will never mesh as well as we want them to.
  9. Contrary to misconception #1, teachers do have a life outside of school. We may drag books and papers home in the evenings and on weekends, but we still have a family and friends, as well as a house to clean, errands to run, and hobbies to experience. Even though we may not have summers, we do like to experience the world outside of school every now and then. Fact: When you see one of your teachers in the grocery store or shopping mall, it’s normally as awkward for them as it is for you.
  10. ****** (The stars mean this is the biggest one in my opinion!) It is an awful cliche to state that those who cannot do teach. You wanna bet? You try explaining the reason your daughter has a fever and what the sun has to do with the reddening of your skin! Try finding the integral or derivative of any value- most of you cannot. Before you say you never need to use these things in the real world, go ask a doctor or engineer. We teach those people, not because we can’t, but because we teach.
  11. Anyone can teach. Really? Fact: Just because you sit in the classroom for 12 or 13 years does not mean we could trade places and you would succeed. True, many people can teach things that they themselves do (example: if you are a carpenter you might be able to train your son to follow in your footsteps), but that does not mean that you can teach hundreds of children at the same time while dealing with their discipline, learning, attitudes, questions, focus, etc. Good luck!
  12. While many of us don’t focus on our salary on a day-to-day basis, we also don’t get paid as much as we deserve! Fact: When a person who throws a football around an area of grass and gets their brains pummeled out for entertainment makes a few million dollars a year but most teachers only make about $30-40,000 a year, there is something wrong with the world. Sorry, but in my opinion, this is fact.
  13. We can grade a test on the same day it was given, get the grade entered into the reporting system, and have results to you by the next day. Sorry, no. This misconception implies that we have very few students to attend to, nothing to do after the test is giving in one class (who cares about the classes after that right?), and no planning to do for the next day. I truly feel sorry for English teachers, but I guess you knew what you were getting into when you signed up for that one!
  14. Gym teachers are the best teachers because they are the coolest. This misconception, most often from the student’s mouth, is so horrible that it’s just… horrible. Granted, gym teachers are not the worst teachers, but just because they are cool doesn’t mean that they can teach! Since the student loves sports, it is their perspective that makes this misconception true in their eyes!

There you have it! Fourteen (yes, I did it without adding more) misconceptions about teaching. Many of them were obvious, but my ideas dwindled as I got to the bottom. In your opinion, what is the worst misconception listed here? Have another idea? Let me know!

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