406. Teachers Who’d Rather Not Be Teachers

There are teachers who absolutely love teaching. There are some who don’t exactly love it, but think it’s okay. And there are some people who wish they could find jobs as teachers, but so far, haven’t been able to. There are many aspects of teaching many teachers consider delightful, and while it does depend
somewhat on the children, the school, the other teachers, the day, and many other factors, a lot of us basically like our work.
But some don’t. They consider the job to be just a job – something they’ve got to do. They haven’t found ways to make ends meet that bring them joy, so they come to work in school each day, and do what they need to do to earn their paychecks. Then they go home, maybe do a little preparation for the next day, and then, if they’re lucky, maybe do something they do enjoy. They look forward to weekends and vacations more eagerly than some of their colleagues.
Children who end up in these teachers’ classes tend not to be very happy about it. Some rightly see the problem as mainly the teacher’s problem, and do their best to get through the year. Maybe next year will be better. Others blame themselves, thinking that the teacher would enjoy teaching if only the children were better. And there are some children determined to please the teacher even if that seems like an impossible dream. Some of them join the teacher in blaming other children for the problem.
I heard, during my teaching career, that such teachers built character in children. I’ve heard that some parents specifically ask to have their children in such teachers’ classes. I guess the parents don’t remember liking their teachers, and think that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe they think that if a teacher seems to be having fun, that’s a sign of lack of commitment to the “real” job. In fact, of the few teachers I know who have been asked to resign, there’s not one who had been accused of being boring or oppressive. So I guess there must be some job security connected with not liking teaching.
I think that I unconsciously believed that the teachers I knew who didn’t like teaching were doing a better job than I was. Test scores didn’t back up that belief; children in my classes did just as well on standardized tests as children in unhappy teachers’ classes. But the Puritan ethic must have had some effect on my self-image – I may have been a “fun” teacher, but I wasn’t one of the really “good” ones.
As a volunteer, I’ve sometimes worked with teachers who haven’t seemed to enjoy their work. They’ve assigned lots of “seatwork,” enforced lots of rules, and gotten some parents to think they were great. But staying with the same children as they move through the grades, I know the children. And I know these children enjoy school more and learn more when their teachers enjoy teaching.

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