Teachers Are Confessing How They Cut Corners at Work, and It Says a Lot About Why We Have Shortages

Is teaching even sustainable anymore?

Photo of teacher working with students for article about cut corners

As teachers, our to-do lists are never-ending. Some might even say impossible. It’s inevitable that we have to cut corners somewhere, and in a recent Reddit thread, teachers are sharing all the ways they find creative workarounds to the endless pile of responsibilities. From eyeballing assignments to ditching formal lesson plans and even putting the kibosh on parent calls, these corner-cutting hacks are nothing if not relatable.

“C’mon. I know y’all do it,” Dizzy_Instance8781 begins. “Teaching is a job that’s so intensive and has so many moving parts to it that you almost have to cut corners here and there to make it sustainable. I want to hear from you, where do you cut corners?”

The thread is filled with savvy teacher hacks, but also exposes a heavy dose of reality and cynicism about all teacher burnout and why so many are leaving education altogether.

Here are some of the top comments:

“I don’t call home at all.”

“I email instead (unless there’s no available email address). That allows me to use customizable form messages to cut down on time, and keeps a record of exactly what was said.” —Monsterbyday

“I send out mass BCC ‘your child is failing’ emails once a quarter about a week before grades are due with a list of things the students can do to bring their grades up.”


“I would say less than 10% of emails even get a response.” —UniqueUsername82D

“No formal lesson plans.”

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.” —mdmull4.

“I have simply taken old [lesson plans] and slapped different dates on them.”

“When you’re a choir teacher, you can fit what you’re going to do on a Post-it note.” —Swaglfar

In 2024, teachers are using AI to generate basic lesson plans as a jumping-off point. While this may look like cutting corners, AI can be a huge help in clarifying, deepening, and extending lesson plans.

“I don’t do anything after contract hours.”

“I leave at 2:45.” —wardsac

In response, user Lokky rightly clarifies, “This isn’t cutting corners. This is sticking to your contract.”

“Hall duty. I am simply not doing it anymore.”

When another commenter asked Swaglfar to elaborate on how they accomplish this, Swaglfar replied, “My room is very out of the way. I lock my doors and keep quiet.”

“I try to either use holistic grading or credit/no-credit grading for most assignments.”

“Taking the time to read 5 periods with 36 students each, I would never have time to do anything else if I did not.” —Content-Parsnip5533

“I do all tests through Canvas.”

“I don’t test in class. When we are done with a unit, the test goes up for about 1-3 days. The kids take it whenever they can (using their notes and yes even the Internet). Oh but it is timed so you better be fast if you are using the Internet or you will run out of time. And I don’t let them go back on questions.” —Wolftankpick

“I only grade tests/quizzes/projects.”

“I don’t grade quickly at all. I have 150 students, they get done when they get done. Sorry folks.” —MTskier12

With huge class sizes becoming the norm in many parts of the country (notably without additional support), teachers simply don’t have time to grade everything to fidelity.

Even after cutting corners, teachers are still leaving.

Sadly, there just aren’t enough corners to cut, and for many teachers the pressure is forcing them to resign. Morbid_Explorerrrr minced no words when they shared they planned to resign in three years “like any other good naive teacher who goes into the profession against the warnings of others.”

“Sometimes I envision how happy I’d be grinding these hours if I was making bank … I’d feel prideful over my work,” they said. “Instead, I just feel embarrassed that I am letting society take advantage of my efforts and time.”

This leads us to ask: Is teaching sustainable anymore?

While it’s tempting to raise eyebrows at teachers cutting corners, we have to focus on why this is taking place. In a profession facing mounting challenges and diminishing resources, educators often find themselves navigating an increasingly unsustainable landscape.

So, is this even cutting corners? Or are teachers in survival mode and doing what they can to keep their heads above water? Reddit user Thougtfulprof put it this way: “If you put a stone in turbulent enough water, eventually all the corners are gone.”

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As teachers, our to-do lists are never-ending. Some might even say impossible. It's inevitable that we have to cut corners somewhere.