Help! Is Teaching As Bad As Everyone Says It Is?

Am I putting myself in an inevitably toxic situation?

Illustration of a TikTok of teacher talking about how teaching is miserable

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life, even the past few years when I know so many teachers have left the classroom. But recently I watched a bunch of TikToks where teachers talk about how brutal their experiences are, either because of parents, in-classroom violence, or not being able to take care of themselves. Now I’m completely freaking out that I’m putting myself in an inevitably toxic situation. Please tell me it’s still possible to love teaching! —Am I About To Make a Rookie Mistake?

Dear A.I.A.T.M.A.R.M.,

It’s true that, for many of us, the last few years have been the hardest we can remember. We feel vilified. We feel tired. And when we try to express this, we feel unheard. TikTok in particular has been a way for teachers to express frustrations, get solidarity from other teachers in similar situations, and raise awareness for the public about what is happening in schools.

But keep this in mind: TikTok’s algorithm is designed to keep you on the platform. They want to entice you with the types of TikToks you’ll keep watching—which in your case was teachers at the end of their rope. When you watch clip after clip of how miserable teaching is, it’s easy to believe it’s that way everywhere.

But it’s not. There are so many teachers who still love what they do. Plenty have found their dream school and actually look forward to going to work. That was me for the last seven years of my career! And what took me out of teaching wasn’t teaching itself or my students, but a combination of factors that had very little to do with what was actually happening in the classroom.


How do you find the right school for you? In my opinion, it has everything to do with leadership. A good principal controls parents, knows how to establish a school-wide discipline policy, and makes it easier for teachers to take care of themselves. Join our Helpline group and ask for teachers in your area who love their district and/or school leader. Be patient! The right fit often isn’t your first school.

So don’t give up hope—especially not because of what’s on TikTok. We need your bright ideas, your enthusiasm, and your snacks at our department meetings. ❤️

Dear WeAreTeachers,
Our administrators decided that next year, students will vote on which teachers chaperone prom. It’s between the teachers who actually want to chaperone (like me and my team!) and the teachers who don’t want to because they live far away or have young children. How would you handle this? —A Weak Prom-posal

Dear A.W.P.,

LOL. Sorry for laughing. This just sounds like something Michael Scott would roll out if he were principal—a “fun” decision to gain popularity with one group (students) that results in another group (teachers) being incredulous and miserable.

Personally, this isn’t a hill I would die on. If you and your team really want to chaperone prom next year but aren’t chosen, will your principal really not let you come? If they turn down additional chaperones on a night that is notorious for teenage tomfoolery, there’s some other reason your administrator doesn’t want to allow volunteers for prom they need to address.

My professional instinct is this arrangement will last exactly one year.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
Our principal says we’re expected to check our email on a weekly basis during the summer to address any concerns from parents and students and to stay up-to-date on district communication. I … don’t want to? Can they expect this from teachers who aren’t on contract hours? —A Stick in the Mud?

Dear A.S.I.T.M.,

There are a few different ways to look at this.

First, I don’t think parents or students are entitled to your free labor over the summer. So, no to that one.

However, administrators often make big decisions about staffing over the summer. You might be teaching a different grade level or content area. Moving classrooms is a possibility. You could have a new co-teacher, partner, or team member.

Think about whether you’d want to know about these things when they happen or if you’d rather be completely disconnected over the summer. Both are valid choices!

My hunch is that your administration wants teachers to stay informed over the summer. They know they can’t really enforce it, so they’re suggesting it instead.

And if they do put an administrator in charge of checking and documenting individual teacher email open rates, let us know. That school has an administrator position they definitely don’t need.

Do you have a burning question? Email us at

Dear WeAreTeachers,
We got a new principal who instantly made waves among faculty (she ended our first faculty meeting with “I don’t care if you like me. If you’re a person who has to like your boss to do your job well, find a new school.”). My co-teacher of 8 years—also a close friend—got a job with a new school, but she has sworn me to secrecy. As a final insult, she wants to resign on July 7, the last day teachers can resign without penalty. I understand her feelings about our principal, but waiting to put our principal in a bind means I might have to work with a “late draft pick” teacher next year. Should I tell my principal anyway and risk my friendship with my co-teacher? —Adding Narc to My Resume

This week on Ask WeAreTeachers, we are asked "Is teaching miserable?," "Is my school's prom chaperone policy weird?" and "Summer emails?"