I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher

These words came out of my mouth several times this week.  “I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher.”

This weekend I went to a brunch with one of my favorite momma friends and a couple of her employees.  She is a wonderful boss of a wonderful company, and sitting around a table eating tartlets and fancy poached eggs and drinking bottomless mimosas, I thought, I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher.  Because if I didn’t want to be a teacher, I would want to work here.  I would want to sleep in past 6 and write pretty words on a pretty blog and go to brunches and have real conversations with women over the age of 10.  And that’s where I get disappointed, because I do want to be a teacher.

For some insane reason, I want to be here.  I want to be exactly where I am, sitting in this classroom, surrounded by construction paper and broken pencils and spilled apple sauce.  I want to read storybooks and sit criss cross on the carpet and have thirty minute meetings about how to show empathy.

Life would be easier if I chose a different profession.  I know that.  Life would be easier if I chose a job I could walk away from at the end of the day, a job where I could put in my 8 hours and head home without giving the lives of 44 others a second thought.  Life would be easier if I worked with adults, rather than ill-behaved  fifth graders.  Life would be easier if my work friends didn’t have to ask my permission to go to the bathroom, and if I never needed to have a confrontation about the amount of febreeze that is needed to make a room smell better.  (spoiler alert: it’s one spray, not the whole bottle)

In sitting down to write this post, I have been interrupted every thirty seconds by the following questions:

Ms. Green, where is the tape?
Ms. Green, can I get water?
Ms. Green, where are the index cards?
Ms Green, can I go to the bathroom?
Ms. Green, will you sign my paper?
Ms. Green, is this right?
Ms. Green, are there any toilet paper rolls?
**wordless interaction: student puts paper and pen in my face, looks at me expectantly**
Ms. Green, so…where are the toilet paper rolls?

Life would be easier if I chose a profession that gave me answers, rather than endless questions.  Life would be easier if I chose a profession that didn’t involve bathroom passes and reporting evidence of lice.

But at the end of the day, coffee spilled down my shirt, marker stains on my palms and mud splattering my shoes, I am full of life.  I am more alive than I was when I began the day.  I am tired, yes, exhausted, yes, wanting a tall glass of wine- yes.  But alive.  Fully and truly alive.  For some inexplicable reason, every fiber of my being is called to be in this classroom with these kids.

 

My freshman year of college, going through training to be a  Young Life leader, Brett Rodgers would always ask us, “what makes you feel alive?”

Four years later, I have a clear answer to his question: teaching.  Teaching makes me feel alive.

I have found a profession that makes my feet sore and my heart full.  I have found a profession that isn’t okay with the easy route, a profession that forces me to make hard choices and spend way too much time thinking about others.  I have found something that makes me feel profoundly alive, and God willing, I will get to do it for the rest of my life.

So yes, sometimes I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher.  Sometimes I wish I could sleep in past 6 (did I already mention this one?) and make my own hours and wear wedges and not worry about standardized tests.  But at the end of the day, I am thankful.  Thankful for the messy and question filled prepubescent little people who are giving me life.

 


 

You might also be interested in reading, “Why I Write in the Classroom,” posted in response to comments on this post.

 

70 thoughts on “I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher

  1. iamkellyann

    Currently feeling the same thing, and wishing I actually had a lunch break instead of shoving cheetos down my throat when I get two seconds of quiet.

    Currently wishing I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was reaching the little girl in my class who clearly has ADHD and no IEP.

    I’m just the student teacher, and yet, I still worry about each and every little life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally understand. There are some days I love being a teacher, knowing that I just might be making a difference in their lives. But then other days…I feel like pulling my hair out. One things for sure, teachers should be paid more. My husband makes more money than me (a desk job). Glue and boogers in my hair should result in a bigger paycheck. But I love it!

    Like

  3. I feel the same way, sometimes! I’m a junior high history and English teacher and have been teaching for three years. I have worked while pregnant, and I have worked with an infant. And, as sad as it makes me to leave my classroom, I am very excited that next school year I will be a SAHM! But, I have a feeling that it won’t last too long…I think I’ll miss the classroom too much!

    Like

  4. Rachel G

    Aww! This was the sweetest post. I’m not a teacher, by American standards, as I didn’t get my degree in Education, but I currently work teaching English at a public high school in China–and this is the first job I’ve ever truly loved. I feel like it’s a job worth doing, even though the kids are by no means perfect students…it’s my privilege to convince them that English is worth learning. 🙂

    Like

    • Nicole

      I think it depends on your expectations of what is fulfilling. Its not as if parents, students and school are praising and thanking you. Teachers are represented in the media as greedy, lazy and incompetent. If teaching a student that is below grade level to decode or teaching a student to speak respectfully to others over the course of a year is rewarding to you then yes. These moments are few and far between and for every success there will be incredibly frustrating situations. I love a lot of the things that author of the blog loves but I do not love working at a school. Please spend a lot of time talking to teacher before you decide most teachers leave in their first 3 years.

      Like

  5. Cherise Hagen

    Ms. Green…why are you writing a blog post in the middle of your class? How do you have the time? I want to teach at your school!

    Like

    • Hahahah, if only you knew all of the joys of my school…I love it! I just slipped in the very beginnings of this post while I was at school, but I firmly believe that if we want our students to be writers, they should see us writing! If we want our students to be lifelong writers, they need to see the value in writing as a necessary lifeskill. Same with all of the other subjects- when kids see that we are invested in these same things, they find much more value in learning in them. It’s all about authentic learning!

      Like

      • Linda Baldock

        Oh, you sound just like Nancy Atwell! I retired in 2010 as a high school English teacher. I wish you many more productive, energetic years, always loving being a teacher.

        Like

  6. Write on, my friend! When I did my student teaching 31 {gasp} years ago, my supervising teacher warned me teaching is all about decision-making and his advice was to not sweat the small stuff, to let my students make some of their own decisions, to stay the course and not get weary. I chuckled at all of those decisions you were having to make, as I remembered.

    Thank you for speaking life, for choosing to be alive with our future. Every. Day!

    Like

  7. Rachel

    Erin,

    I am currently student teaching in 5th Grade as well! This blog post is thoroughly beautiful and says exactly what is on my heart on a daily basis! Praise God for your yes to the Lord to serve Him in such a self-giving, beautiful way! Please know of my prayers for you and your students! Keep living in the joy! Even in the hard moments we learn! 🙂

    Like

  8. Pingback: “I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher” | jarynguerra

  9. Laetitia

    This post made my day!

    Currently a student teacher of grade 2’s in South Africa. I believe if teaching is your passion you will have the best day everyday! Little hugs and silly jokes are so special! A mom stopped me today and said I probably don’t realize how much the kids love being around me. It is by far the most fulfilling job there is and knowing that the parents appreciate you is priceless -even if you’re just a student teacher 🙂 #HappyHeart

    Like

  10. Jordan McManus

    This is the coolest thing!!! Thank you for your bits of wisdom during finals… I am an education major and often get discouraged by college classes. This is so encouraging and helped to remind me why I am pursuing an education degree. Keep doin what you’re doin girl!

    Like

  11. Harris Sockel

    Hi Erin — This piece is so great. I help run a collection on Medium.com called Human Parts (http://medium.com/human-parts) and I’d love to share it with our readers. Would you be interested in that? If so, email me (hsockel@gmail.com) and let me know! I’d just need a short bio and I’d link back to your blog.

    Best,
    Harris

    Like

  12. I have this same thought at least once a month. You have put it into words beautifully. And it is the reason I stay. What would life be without our students? At least we always have a good story to share! Thank you! I am going to print this out as a reminder!

    Like

  13. Kelsea

    I’ve felt the same for many years. I’m now a senior about to student teach next spring. I am 28 years old and have worked everything corporate up until this point. I cried everyday on my way home from work… Knowing that my bills had to get paid and the end of the tunnel never felt so far. But I’m here, closer than I’ve ever been and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Its what truly makes me happy. It’s both a curse and a gift being a teacher. The rewards are priceless

    Like

  14. Rita Verdin-Bergen

    You hit the nail on the head! There are days that I think, gosh, I really wish that I didn’t have to get up and dressed to go to teach. Then I get a beautiful letter/note from a student that tells me “thank you for not giving up on me”. Where else do we make such an important impact on the lives of children in such a little time? I’ve been teaching for 20+ years and I still can’t sleep the night before school starts. I still love teaching but “I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher.” 🙂

    Like

  15. Samantha

    This brought tears to my eyes because this is how I feel! My work as a kindergarten teacher is demanding but so very fulfilling! Your words touched my heart!

    Like

  16. barb

    I am so glad that you are there, because students need and deserve teachers with passion for their jobs. However, I wonder what your comments will be like 5 or 10 years down the road. You are in your “honeymoon period”. I remember that era fondly. After 29 years in the classroom, I’m still trying to figure out which has changed more….the students, “school culture”, or me. It is difficult to retain the same passion after 29 years of fatigue, conflict, overwork, disrespect (from those you are teaching and those who don’t believe your teaching is worthwhile), apathy, laziness, changing expectations, etc. I wish you many years of passion for your vocation. But as the years roll on, those moments of satisfaction and those feelings of “I’m making a difference” and “I belong here” happen less and less frequently. Search for them with ever increasing diligence; they are there, and you will need them even more in ten years than you do now. Good luck.

    Like

  17. Taylor Fliszar

    This is beautiful Erin! I just finished my professional semester (which is one step before student teaching). I know all schools don’t exactly do the same but I’ve been in the class for 7 weeks and teaching lessons here and there. The last 2 weeks I was able to teach full days and you took the words right out of my mouth.. I felt alive. I told my cooperating teacher after teaching the full day I was exhausted but felt alive for the first time in a while. It is such a hard and time consuming profession but its people like us that make the world a better place. We care for so many other lives and put the children first and at the end of the day I’m tired but very blessed that I will be able to do this for the rest of my life.

    Like

  18. Amanda Wheeler

    Thank you for the smiles and the tears. I have been teaching since I was 16 and a volunteer in a Head Start program. That was so many years of teaching ago, and this year I am retiring. I never expected to be so emotional about this! I am looking forward to a new phase of teaching in my retirement as I will need a job to supplement my pension. I don’t have a clear picture of that next phase yet, but I know that I will not be able to stay out of teaching for too long. Keep inspiring and encouraging others. We all need it!

    Like

  19. Becky

    Thirty four years teaching here. It’s all I ever wanted to be. Seen things come and seen things go….then come back again many times. I teach fifth grade math and STILL after 34 years love my job with a passion. I’m poor but I’m rewarded in ways money could never reward me. My life has purpose everyday. You can keep your passion a long time. When it’s no fun anymore, when you can’t find the joy, then it is time to go……I’m not there yet. Thank God, I am a teacher.

    Like

  20. Erin

    So powerful. Just shared this with my middle school staff. I was looking over old notes I had from a few years ago when I was asked to be teacher of the year. In my application I had to fill out, the first thing I wrote was “All I want to do is teach.” Being a teacher is amazing. Think, even if you only touch one child, you just CHANGED A LIFE.

    Hugs to all the teachers out there 🙂

    Like

  21. Amanda

    You have so beautifully put in to words what so many of us feel everyday! I my twenty-four 4th graders more than I can express but they do make me crazy! 🙂

    Like

  22. Meagan

    I loved your post. I finished my degree in 2010 in speech pathology. Instead of continuing on with that route, I decided to return to school for my teaching certification as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching. Unfortunately (yes, that’s right, I said unfortunately), my time in the classroom was very short lived. I taught fourth grade last school year and about two months of this school year. It was a very difficult decision to leave the classroom, but a position as an academic advisor at the university in which I attended came available and I couldn’t turn it down. I was so excited to work at a university that I loved so much, and I couldn’t wait to have FREEDOM. Now six months into the job, I can honestly say that I miss the classroom. Most teachers look at me like I’m crazy when I say that I want to go back. Yes, it’s nice to have a normal bed time, lunch with adults, and work that stays at work, but there’s absolutely nothing that compares to the satisfaction that someone gets from being a teacher. Thankfully I still have a lot of student interaction with my new job, and I still have the privilege of watching many students succeed, but it’s just not the same. There are many times that I regret leaving the classroom, but I know that God had a reason for me leaving. Maybe I needed a reason to realize that the classroom is where I need to be or maybe that’s just not where he wants me in life. Whatever it may be, I constantly pray that he continues to guide me exactly where he wants me to be. I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are many days I pray he guides me back into the classroom. With all that being said, don’t think you’re crazy for saying, “I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher”. From someone who has experienced both worlds, I wish I was a teacher.

    Thank you teachers! I know you don’t hear it nearly enough! 🙂

    Like

  23. Katie P.

    I’m going to be starting my Junior year of college in the fall. I’ve decided on the path of a teacher. I already know the endless questions that will come because I deal with them with teaching at church. In 5th grade I was bullied and the teacher treated me horribly. One day she even threw a textbook at me which almost hit my head. It was looking back onto that year that drove me to want to become a teacher. I want to be a positive influence on kids, not be a factor for an 11 year old who is suicidal like I was. Thank you for writing this. I already feel people judging me. They say I’m only going into for the summers off. I can’t help but to laugh as they have no clue how much energy I’ll be giving up to teach.

    Like

  24. Heavens yes! I love this post. I too teach fifth-graders, and today was a not-so-good day. I am a first year teacher who finished my degree after being a stay at home mom for 17 years. The first day I stood in front of my class, I felt like I came home. It was of the most natural feelings to do what I do – teach. Your post just summed up how I feel so well even in this chaotic first year.

    Like

  25. collteach

    Wow! I think you might be inside my head! This school year, I took the job I dreamt of having for the past 5 years…educational technologist. I was excited to have a new role in a school and to be perfectly honest, I needed a break from all of the other tasks (paperwork, relentlessly unhappy parents, lack of support with behavior problems, testing, testing, testing, etc.) that I welcomed this new adventure. While I enjoy my new position, I miss having my own students. I miss the countless hours of prepping for an activity that is over in 20 minutes, but has the students grinning from ear to ear and talking about what they learned for days to come. I do get to work with students (middle schoolers), and I try to get to know them and develop relationships, but it is just not the same. I am giving this new position another year because I get to work in a wonderful school with amazing colleagues, but I definitely think I will eventually end up back in a classroom.

    Like

  26. aprilcheatham

    I admire all teachers! They have an important job and one that I know I do not have a talent to do. My talent is spreadsheets and working at my own pace and figuring out financial puzzles. I get satisfaction out of my job when I get that puzzle all figured out. It has stressful seasons, as I know teachers have those seasons too. But the one thing that I always envy about teachers is all the time they get off. And if they have children, they get that time off with them. I have to take a day or two off and then when I do, I am welcomed back with a full inbox and a stack of work. I don’t know very many women that get to do the job like you mentioned that get to set their own hours and sleep in. I am up at 6 to get myself ready before I wake my kids up to get them ready to get us all out the door to daycare. I don’t think anyone has it any easier….just different. It sounds like you are using your gifts in the right profession and I’m glad you see the kingdom work in it.

    Like

    • April, I have gotten this feedback from a few people, but all others who have said something along these lines have said it so aggressively that I they didn’t even dignify a response. Thank you for being so incredibly respectful and mature while expressing your opinion. I absolutely agree with you, all jobs are hard in their own ways. I never expected this post to blow up the way it did, and because of that, I didn’t explain some parts very well, because I expected my audience to be my friends and usual readers. I was referring to one or two specific jobs, one of which included a lot of entrepreneurship and networking (which includes brunches, and would be so fun), and the other job would be full-time writing, and if I were doing that I would be able to make my own hours. I value other jobs so much, and I know that each and every job has its own perks and hardships. Teaching certainly has its perks, and I am so thankful for them. I had no intention of rating jobs by importance or level of challenge, just expressing my feelings towards teaching right now. After all, the world would never function if it were only full of teachers. 🙂 I am so thankful for everyone who has chosen to pursue the careers they are called to, each and every one of us is called to use our own unique gifts for the glory of the Kingdom. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain this, as I know you are not the only one wondering.

      Like

  27. I teach middle school language arts and a gifted class. They are completing their end of year surveys (something I do every year) so that I can see where they think I could improve. Among other questions, they are asked to tell next year’s students one thing about me and give them advice about how to be successful in my class. There have been days this year when I wondered if I was making a difference. Then I read comment such as this. “If I could tell future students anything about Mrs. Battle, it would be this: Mrs. Battle has a dry sense of humor and enjoys using sarcasm, so don’t take her too seriously. She genuinely cares for her students, including you, so appreciate her any second you can get. She wants you to learn and evolve into a better version of yourself. Good luck with her class because she’s going to try and push you, but it’s for your own good. Hope you love her as much as I have.”

    Like

  28. Jennifer Battle: Like the idea of the survey! Could be tough reading some responses, I bet. 🙂

    ErinTaylorGreen: I so enjoyed your blog ! So very well written. Like the saying “life is like a box of chocolates, You never know what you’ll get.” Especially teachers! Teachers (& Mom’s/Dad’s) all have days that are frustrating, but oh, those days that are full of the moments when a child “gets it”! What a great feeling to know that you are important in someone’s life.
    Kids get frustrated also, but it’s O.K. for them to act out. Adults, not so much.
    Those of you that love what you do, even though it’s hard and usually you feel unappreciated, are so important to the missing mom’s/dads. You may be the only one that hands the kids a complement on a job well done.

    AprilCheatham: No one should be stuck in a job they hate. But, only that person can make the change that can make them happy. Being resentful that they don’t get the time off a teacher does, doesn’t solve their problem.
    I’m pretty sure that teachers are thinking about their upcoming semesters and what they can do to make things better, in their down time. They spend more time with your kids than most parents do.
    God Bless the Teachers!

    Like

  29. S. A.. Sparks

    Degrees do not make teachers, they only allow teachers to get paid for what they do (at least a little bit). Only God can make a teacher, it is not a profession, it is who you are.

    Like

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  31. Caty

    This resonated with me as a highschooler who wants to someday teach history and is constantly asked “You want to TEACH?? Why??” And the answer is partially in the teachers I’ve had who really care, like you seem to. (Also my name is Green too, which added an extra layer of “Hey!”)

    Like

  32. Pingback: Why I Write in the Classroom | Erin Taylor Green

  33. Mike Braud

    I retired from teaching 4 yrs ago. And now I’m back in the classroom as a sub. Our district has 5 schools from K thru 12. On an day at 5:30 I get a call to come in to anyone of those schools. AND I can’t wait for the call!! It is such fun to jump in to help a teacher who can’t be in her room for a day.

    Like

  34. Verna Smith

    I truly believe teaching is a calling from God above. I taught “educable mentally impaired” for 28 and 1/2 years. It is all I ever wanted to do. A teacher doesn’t always get kudos for their work, so I think they need to use self endorsement. I retired 24 years ago, and when volunteering to help out at my grand girls school in a special Ed. Room, I realized how much more relaxed teachers and principals are now these days. Classrooms don’t have to be deadly quiet anymore. I am glad I was a teacher, and have a comfortable retirement.

    Like

  35. Alicia Murray

    So many good points!!!! The only thing I am wondering is you said “while I am posting this I am being interrupted by…Mrs. Green can I ….” Why are you posting when you are in your classroom teaching? I know that may sound fresh but I cannot be the only one thinking it.

    Like

  36. I❤️teaching

    Love this. I have moved 14 hours away from home and had a horrible teaching experience which made me feel like I never wanted to teach again. Your article reminded me why I love it and got me excited again! I’m starting a TA position next week to ease back in.

    Like

  37. Barbara Wolfe

    I laughed when I saw all of the interruptions you had gotten as you were typing. I feel like this every single day when I am conferencing with students or meeting in a reading or math group. I have heard my name, Mrs. Wolfe, called out more times than I can count. I was so content the other day grading in my car since I had absolute peace and quiet in order to grade my papers without 26 students interrupting me or my two boys needing me. I also miss the days with my old public relations job where I could leave a message at my company saying I was sick and roll over to go back to bed. I never take a sick day unless I am in the hospital since sub plans are not something I enjoy writing. Despite all of my complaints, I love my job because I love my students and the difference I am making in their lives.

    Like

  38. Jennifer

    I love teaching more than I can put into words. The year so far has been very difficult for me. I have a class that 1/3 of my students have very disruptive behaviors. I work very hard with each student to get to know what strategies work best for them. I have developed strong bonds with every student in my class. I’m also connecting quite well with most of the parents. However, my heart is breaking because I have been diagnosed with several medical conditions that need to be addressed immediately. This is forcing me to take a medical leave of absence. I am finding myself wishing I didn’t want to be a teacher. I’m stressing over whether a long-term sub will take the job, or if a different teacher will have to cover my class every 45 minutes because it is extremely rare for a sub to take a job opening at my school. The principal is very difficult to work with, she sadly treats people poorly. I’m so worried about my kids. But the only way I can be there for them later in the year, is to take care of my health so I can give my very best to them. I am going to miss them immensely and it’s going to be so difficult not to go back before my medical issues are dealt with. This is why I wish I didn’t want to be a teacher.

    Like

  39. Pingback: A Year in the Books: My First Blogiversary | Erin Taylor Green

  40. As a retired teacher (31 years), I followed my calling. When giving my student teachers insight, I always included that as a teacher no two days are ever the same and that this job is NEVER boring. What I had and have now no millionaire could ever attain, my former students running to me when they see me with hugs and kisses. I was and am so blessed…

    Like

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