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3 Duties Teachers Wish They Could Do Away With

A recent survey from the National Education Association shockingly revealed that 55% of US educators are contemplating quitting the profession earlier than anticipated. The huge percentage represents a significant increase from a previous poll that revealed that 37% of teachers were deeply dissatisfied with their profession.

Interestingly, the survey returned the same results irrespective of the educators' age or years of service. The poll also found that a disturbing percentage of Black, Hispanic/Latino educators were actually at the forefront of those considering early retirement. Analysts note that Black and Hispanic/Latinos are already significantly underrepresented in the teaching profession.

So, what ails the 'noble profession?' Can we identify three specific duties the average US teacher would rather do away with? Let the teachers tell us!

Supervising Unruly Students Single-Handedly Bad student behavior appalls many teachers. To make matters worse, many students disrespect teachers, continually disrupting class. Teachers have to supervise students in this environment. Even worse, some teachers call home, hoping to have parents correct the situation, only to learn that parents deal with the same behaviors at home and don't know what to do about it. Parents may hope that teachers will help them handle the issues.

As if this wasn't bad enough, many teachers feel they're under pressure not to send unruly students to the administrative office. Administrators want teachers on duty to handle such behavioral issues in class. And the principal's hands are tied by regulations that require them to report the total number of office referrals to district supervisors annually. Obviously, such information affects the school's ratings, impacting its image.

Having run out of options, what can teachers do? After all, principals generally look down upon educators who bravely write office referrals when they've exhausted other avenues. Notably, instead of supporting their teachers, some administrators blackball them. In this environment, it is unsurprising that teachers get tired of handling the mud every school term.

Constantly Standing in for Absent Colleagues & Filling Teacher Shortage Gaps

The NEA survey, mentioned above, revealed other sobering details impacting the US teacher's professional satisfaction matrix. The survey quoted ¾ of the participating members grumbled that they've had to fill in for absent colleagues numerous times - and it sucks! Educators also reported that school administrators often require them to take up other non-class-related duties due to teacher shortages.

As such, 80% of those surveyed said they'd had more work obligations due to unfilled job openings, leading to overworking those who remain. Consider the plight of Sobia Sheikh, who teaches math in Everett, Washington. She says she mostly begins her mornings reading emails that school officials send requesting her (yet again!) to fill in for absent colleagues.

Ms. Sheikh laments, "While I've always wanted to help my colleagues, it's emotionally and mentally exhausting. [Since the pandemic], we've operated in survival mode. It's a huge fight to survive through the week, month, and year. At times the pressure is simply overwhelming." And the situation is replicated elsewhere.

At the Southfield, Michigan School, the biting shortage of substitute teachers, worsened by increased attrition and retirements, has pushed the staff to their limits. Teneshia Moore, who teaches 8th-grade science at the institution, says: "We know ours is a noble profession. However, we feel under-appreciated and underpaid. When you have to deal with this daily, it's a hard pill for anyone to swallow."

Attending Seemingly Endless Meetings

Many teachers complain about attending meetings that consume their teacher planning time. Schools require teachers to attend several meetings, including staff, grade-level, and special education conferences. Mind you; such meetings take place during the time allocated to teacher planning or before and after school, which is unpaid time.

Teachers feel they've no time to create complete lessons for their class instruction and often have no option but to use their own time - after school or on weekends - to perform this crucial duty. Unfortunately, many can't afford to do this since they have family obligations or are busy with a second job to compensate for the disparaging wages. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, who can blame teachers for delivering ill-prepared lessons after dealing with problem students, stepping in for colleagues, and attending meetings during their prep time?

With this sobering background check, are you surprised more than half the teachers in the US want to quit? The solution to each of these duties is complex, as all facets of the equation need to be addressed before progress can be made.

Written by John O. Ndar
Education World Contributor
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