Everyone has assumptions about what a job will be like before they begin. For teachers, it’s easy to imagine Pinterest-worthy classrooms, students who love us and do their homework, and lessons that make them love learning. Reality, however, is often a quite different thing. With that in mind, here are 10 teacher myths that I fully believed before I actually taught.
1. Myth: Teachers are morning people.
Reality: Without coffee, the teaching magic doesn’t happen.
Before becoming a teacher I truly believed that I would grow to love early mornings, eagerly greeting my students at the start of each day with a smile full of eager anticipation. I do manage to do this most mornings, but now I know that its because of caffeine. LOTS of caffeine.
2. Myth: Our wardrobes can be fun, fashionable, and on point.
Reality: Two words: Classic black.
My Pinterest account is full of awesome, classy little outfits that I would love to have the time, energy, and money to hunt down and create. The reality, however, is that I need something that I can put on in the dark that looks clean and relatively presentable in the light. That’s why 90 percent of my wardrobe is black.
3. Myth: Teachers don’t mind grading; it’s no big deal.
Reality: Grading is one of the worst parts of the gig.
Either you’re an elementary teacher with assignments for every single subject, or you teach secondary and have more than a hundred students. Grading takes up so much time! And don’t even get me started on the students who come in the day after a test wanting to know why their grade isn’t in the grade book yet!
4. Myth: Teachers hate snow days because they lose time they could be teaching.
Reality: Teachers love snow days (mostly so they can catch up on grading)!
I vaguely remember thinking that teachers probably hated snow days because they missed out on another chance to give us homework or teach us something new. Ha! Although the make-up days are always terrible, if anything, the opposite is true. As teachers, we need the mental health break more than our students. And sadly, we usually use the day to catch up on cleaning, laundry, and yes … grading.
5. Myth: Good teachers have no trouble keeping a class in line.
Reality: Even the best teachers sometimes struggle with classroom management.
For the most part, experienced teachers have classroom management down. But honestly, there’s always one class (or even one student) that tests our skills each year!
6. Myth: Teachers can remain calm and mature at all times.
Reality: Unexpectedly hysterical, horrifying, or downright disgusting events always test our ability to keep a straight face.
I challenge anyone from any profession to keep their cool when a ginormous spider drops from the ceiling onto a student who promptly starts screaming and running around the room. Or when a student begins projectile vomiting on their peers. Or when a secondary student drops the most perfect “that’s what she said” retort after you’ve read something in class. It’s nearly impossible.
7. Myth: Teachers never take students’ behavior/attitudes personally.
Reality: Students can be really good at getting under your skin.
Oh, you think the activity I spent my entire weekend planning is “totally lame,” and you want to know why we “can’t ever do anything fun”? That’s cool. Nope, no … I’m fine. I’m just gonna step out in the hall for a second … and cry.
8. Myth: Teachers eat lunch in the faculty lunch room each day.
Reality: Most teachers eat their lunch at their desk or in front of the copy machine.
Twenty-five minutes is totally enough time to make the copies you couldn’t get to yesterday, discuss a change in the lesson plan with your same grade colleagues, email one parent, call another, get down to the office to check your mailbox, hit the restroom for the first time since you woke up this morning, and … what was that other thing? Oh! Actually eat something!
9. Myth: Good teachers have Pinterest-ready classrooms.
Reality: As long as it works for you and your students, anything goes.
Of course my students know where to turn in their homework assignments: in the bin on my desk. Just move the construction paper and markers from yesterday’s project, careful not to knock the glue sticks into the fish tank. We’re going to need them later, and Bubbles the goldfish wouldn’t like it.
10. Myth: Teachers love every minute of their jobs.
Reality: Just because it’s your calling doesn’t mean it won’t test you.
Whoever said, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” obviously never dealt with standardized testing, angry parents, or professional development. But despite the lows, if you love teaching, it’s still the best job on Earth.
What teacher myths did you believe before you started? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.