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The Teaching Profession: Can We Have a Normal Life?

Janelle Cox

How many times has someone asked you what you do for a living, and after you respond with “I’m a teacher,” you get the “You’re so lucky that job is so easy” response? This is usually followed by their saying, “I only get two weeks of vacation,” and “I have to work through the summer.” If you are in the teaching profession, then none of this should surprise you, you’ve heard this all before. What these individuals don’t understand is how much you do have to work in the teaching profession. Let’s not mention scouring the Internet for lesson plan ideas for hours at night or on the weekends. We shouldn’t mention about the workshops we must attend or reworking your lessons because of the standards. We also should forget to talk about coming to work early or staying late, being on school committees, and making sure to attend after-school functions. If we talked about all of these things, then our job wouldn’t sound so easy after all. We often have to hear about the many benefits and privileges of being a teacher, and a lot of the time they are right, we do have it pretty good. However, there are a few things that people who are not in the teaching profession don’t know.

There is Not Much Free Time in the Teaching Profession

You may be thinking you have your nights, weekends, and summers free, so how can this be? Well, I’m here to tell you that much of this so called “Free time” is spent preparing for class by grading papers, planning lessons, dealing with parents, tutoring, coaching, and the list goes on. Many teachers spend their free time coaching sports or staying after school to help their students -- not to mention helping their students deal with their “Friend drama” or whatever else is going on in their lives. When you add this together, then there is not much time for anything else.

We Never Want to Take a Sick Day

Most teachers go to work even though they may not be feeling well because they cannot bear to think about what might happen when there is a substitute in their classroom. If you are lucky enough to find a great substitute teacher, then you don’t mind missing a day here and there, but those are usually few and far between. For many teachers, it’s more logical to come to school under the weather, than to have to create substitute plans and deal with the wrath of the students the next day.

Privacy? What’s That?

If you want to know what it’s like to be in the spotlight and chased by the paparazzi, then be a teacher. As a teacher you must always be “On.” This means that when you have to make a quick trip to the store because you forgot something on your grocery list, there’s a good chance that you may run into a student or parent. If you like to share photographs of your family on social media, then there’s a good chance students and parents (old and new) may try and connect with you. If you have no choice but to use the classroom bathroom, then there’s always that chance that one of your students will unintentionally walk in on you.

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Student Drama is Our Drama

Whether you like it or not, at some point in your teaching career you will lay in bed at night and think about what one of your students is going through. It’s easy to get affected by what you hear is going on in your students’ lives. It’s natural for children to want to share and since teachers are like a surrogate parent, we get to hear a lot about our students and their lives. When we hear about a heartbreak or a death in the family, we feel their pain, and when a student worked hard all semester long to get a perfect score on their math test, we cheer with excitement for them.

We Carry Many Hats

When you decided to become a teacher, were you aware that you would also have to play the role of counselor, nurse, surrogate parent, disciplinarian, bookkeeper, role model, and planner? Being a teacher is a multifaceted profession, and not only do you have to educate your students, but you also have to wear many hats. When a child is hurt you play nurse and make them feel better, and when they are acting up you become the disciplinarian. When a student is sad, you become the surrogate parent, and when they need advice you become their counselor. Teachers switch from educator to bookkeeper and planner when it’s time to grade papers, fill out forms, order and rearrange books and create lessons. How many jobs do you know of that carry this many hats?

Now after reading all of these reasons, do you think teachers can have a “Normal” life? When you are a teacher you have to be passionate and dedicated. Your job is to mold the future citizens who will eventually take over the world. It’s a life-changing profession, and many of us wouldn’t change that for the world, even though our lives may not be considered “Normal.”

Do you think teachers have a normal life? Please share your thoughts on the teaching profession in the comment section below, we would love to her your opinion.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.