To many, teaching may just look like repeating content found in textbooks to a classroom of students and marking papers. But, in reality, the job of a teacher requires so much more passion, grit and tenacity – it’s a tall order.
Although teaching is indeed a fulfilling career, it is also a career chalked full of many challenges. Here are five reasons why being a teacher is tougher than you think:
They need to adapt to any situation that comes their way.
When the going gets tough, teachers make the tough get going. They are always on their feet to think of new ways to make classes engaging and informative for all.
While this may seem like second nature, especially if they’ve been teaching for a while, it actually takes a lot of effort. Considering that each class brings about a unique set of personalities, needs and challenges, there’s no fixed formula. Teachers have to constantly tweak their teaching styles to find the sweet spot.
The past 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic have also made teachers work harder than ever. As many of them navigated through Zoom and the online realm to reach out to students, it only proves that they are amazing when it comes to adapting on-the-go!
They have to take the role of a second parent.
With students spending almost half their day in school, teachers inevitably become pseudo parents. They become responsible for the students’ well-being, safety and most importantly, discipline.
Be it controlling a rowdy circus of students or staying back to talk to a disruptive student, guiding them towards the right path can be difficult. The recent viral video involving a St Andrew’s Secondary School student threatening to end a teacher’s life is merely one of the many examples of disrespect and abuse of educators in recent years.
It is apparent teachers’ good intentions to correct may not always be taken graciously – but like every parent, teachers just want the best for those under their wing. Hence, it is important that schools and parents support teachers in exercising their authority when needed. Schools can do more to protect and empower teachers through introducing safeguarding measures, while parents can also help by being more understanding and teaching their children about mutual respect.
Parents can sometimes expect too much from them.
Every parent wants their child to get stellar grades. However, when that doesn’t happen, teachers might become first in the line of fire.
Such experiences can lead to teachers doubting their abilities or feeling misunderstood when they get blamed for a student’s bad performance. The stress may even heavily impact their mental well-being.
At the end of the day, though teachers are in-charge of imparting knowledge to those they teach, they are not in-charge of making sure all their students get straight As. Getting good grades is ultimately up to the student’s consistent hard work and capacity to retain the information taught in class.
As Mr Abdul Samad Bin Abdul Wahab, NTUC Vice-President, puts it: “Parents can play a role in becoming constructive and complementary partners of teachers to support the students’ growth and development.”
Instead of putting all the weight on their shoulders, parents can work together with teachers to improve on their children’s weak areas.
They simply don’t get paid enough for the work that they do.
While this line of work runs on passion, it is still easy to feel burnt out if you do not feel recognised or valued – especially in terms of salary.
Fortunately, new initiatives are slowly being introduced to salute the blood, sweat and tears teachers put in. The recent move by MOE to adjust salaries by between 5-10% for its teachers and educators is a good sign of how more is being done to appreciate and retain talents.
Besides this, it is important to provide teachers with career progression, learning and development opportunities, as well as a good work environment, to help them thrive. The largest teachers’ organisation in Singapore, Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU), is just one of the places that provides teachers with such resources like webinars and workshops.
Mr Patrick Tay, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General, also suggested taking the mental well-being of educators more seriously. This includes allowing educators to take sabbaticals to gain new perspective in non-education sectors and setting exam papers at a group or cluster level for all mainstream levels. He added: “I hope that we can do more to uplift the profession of this group of educators and help raise the salary and progression of these student care educators”.
Many of their efforts beyond class time can go unnoticed.
While many may think the battle is won once the class bell rings, work does not actually stop the moment they leave the classroom.
On the contrary, many people fail to realise the heaping amounts of paperwork teachers have to go through. In between breaks, they rush off to the staff room to mark mountains of papers. Some may even have to burn the midnight oil, preparing for the next day’s lesson plans.
Since all of this usually happens behind the scenes, many don’t realise that their jobs go round the clock and often, we forget to show them our gratitude. Seeing the various challenges they face in and out of the classrooms, it’s almost certain that teachers deserve a big reward for all that they have to go through – and STU is working hard to do just that for educators here.
Article contributed by Samantha.