Most teachers will tell you their biggest problems come with the adults and the paperwork involved in teaching. The “door principle” brilliantly explains this phenomenon. But sometimes, it is the kids. As Redditor treehugger503 explained, “If I left, it would 100% be because of the kids.”
It is the kids from Teachers
Student behavior is objectively worse
It’s not just you. There’s research to back it up. A study out of Harvard found a link between disruptions in learning environment due to COVID-19 and maladaptive and dysregulated behavior in children. Anecdotally, educators in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE community on Facebook have reported a sharp increase in foul language, fighting, cyberbullying, and overall lack of respect. One teacher told us about a student purposefully snapping the algebra tiles she had handed out. When the teacher asked him to stop, he replied, “Why do you care? They’re not yours.”
Apathy is also a huge problem. whereintheworld2 says, “I have some students who do absolutely nothing and have close to a 0%. Their behavior is horrendous. When they aren’t misbehaving, 90% of them are silent. Or tuned in to AirPods. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. They are choosing not to engage and it’s impossible to force them to.”
Violence is also on the rise. When a teacher has to be taken to the hospital after an attack by a 5-year-old student, the kids are not alright.
Secondary trauma is real
It seems like adverse childhood experiences are at an all-time high. And that takes a toll on the teachers supporting students who are experiencing and have experienced trauma. According to The National Child Trauma Stress Network (NCTSN), secondary traumatic stress refers to “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another.”
AndrysThornage explains, “I left my last job because of the kids. I was super supported by admin and had great friends on the staff. I was at an alternative high school, and the pandemic was just really, really hard. I took all sorts of classes on helping kids with anxiety and depression, but at some point, dealing with all of the trauma, abuse, drug dependency, and mental health issues is just too much. I’m not equipped. I can’t be a counselor and a teacher a the same time.”
How did we get here?
The pandemic has been hard on everyone, taking its toll on mental and physical health. Combine that with long periods of time out of a classroom and a move toward more permissive parenting, and you have a recipe for extreme student behavior. Teachers of Reddit also complain that they feel “toothless” in terms of giving consequences.
lovingpanda shares, “[Students] skip classes they don’t like and don’t get in any trouble for it. They get in fights and are back in school the next day. I had a student show up 15 minutes late and start yelling at me and calling me curse words because I didn’t let her in immediately (was in the middle of a lecture),and she was right back in my class the next day with no apology.”
Where does this leave us?
For many teachers, their “why” is their students. When that’s no longer the case, you get resignations. honeybadgergrrl explains, “It’s the kids. Sorry, but it is. I can’t do another year of being cussed at by 13 year-olds. I can’t do another year of random violence popping up on the daily. I can’t do another year of the screaming.” Frankly, who can blame her?
Are you leaving the classroom because of the kids? We’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share in the comments.
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The “toothless” part really hit home for me. The admin can’t keep up and frankly, issuing consequences can be time consuming, especially when parents sometimes react with argument. The issue with lack of accountability was there prior to the pandemic but it is worse now. Admin are inundated with evaluation paperwork and don’t have time to actually participate in the students’ educational experience.
I guess it’s a worldwide problem. In the Netherlands we are sadly experiencing exactly the same problems.