Ten Common Myths Regarding Teachers

10 of the Most Ridiculous Myths about Teachers

Teacher speaks with student during math lesson. Getty Images

Teaching is one of the most misunderstood professions. Many people do not understand the dedication and hard work that it takes to be a good teacher. The truth is that it is often a thankless profession. A significant portion of the parents and students that we work with on a regular basis do not respect or appreciate what we are trying to do for them. Teachers deserve to be respected more, but there is a stigma associated with the profession that will not go away any time soon.

The following myths drive this stigma making this job even more difficult than it already is.

Myth #1 – Teachers work from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The fact that people believe that teachers only work Monday-Friday from 8-3 is laughable. Most teachers arrive early, stay late, and often spend a few hours on the weekend working in their classrooms. Throughout the school year, they also sacrifice time at home for activities such as grading papers and preparing for the next day. They are always on the job.

A recent article published by BBC news in England highlighted a survey asking their teachers how many hours they spend on the job. This survey compares favorably to the amount of time teachers in the United States spend working each week. The survey evaluated the time spent in the classroom and the time spent working at home. According to the survey, teachers worked between 55-63 hours per week depending on the level that they teach.

Myth #2 – Teachers have the entire summer off work.

Yearly teaching contracts typically range from 175-190 days depending on the number of professional development days required by the state. Teachers generally receive about 2½ months for summer vacation. This does not mean they are not working.

Most teachers will attend at least one professional development workshop during the summer, and many attend more.

They utilize the summer to plan for the next year, read up on the latest educational literature, and pour through new curriculum that they will be teaching when the New Year begins. Most teachers also start showing up weeks in advance of the required reporting time to start preparing for the new year. They may be away from their students, but much of the summer is dedicated to improving in the next year.

Myth #3 – Teachers complain too often about their pay.

Teachers feel underpaid because they are. According to the National Education Association, the average teacher salary in 2012-2013, in the United States, was $36,141. According to Forbes Magazine, 2013 graduates earning a bachelor’s degree would make an average of $45,000. Teachers with all ranges of experience make $9000 less a year on average than those beginning their career in another field. Many teachers have been forced to find part-time jobs in the evenings, on the weekends, and throughout the summer to supplement their income. Many states have beginning teacher salaries below the poverty level forcing those who have mouths to feed to get government assistance to survive.

Myth #4 – Teachers want to eliminate standardized testing.

Most teachers do not have an issue with standardized testing itself.

Students have been taking standardized tests every year for several decades. Teachers have utilized testing data to drive classroom and individual instruction for years. Teachers appreciate having the data and apply it to their classroom.

The high stakes testing era has changed a lot of the perception of standardized testing. Teacher evaluations, high school graduation, and student retention are just a few of the things that are now tied to these tests. Teachers have been forced to sacrifice creativity and to ignore teachable moments to ensure that they cover everything their students will see on these tests. They waste weeks and sometimes months of class time doing comprehension test prep activities to prepare their students. Teachers are not afraid of standardized testing itself, they are afraid of how the results are now used.

Myth #5 – Teachers are opposed to the Common Core State Standards.

Standards have been around for years. They will always exist in some form. They are blueprints for teachers based on grade level and subject matter. Teachers value standards because it gives them a central path to follow as they move from point A to point B.

The Common Core State Standards are no different. They are another blueprint for teachers to follow. There are some subtle changes that many teachers would like to make, but they truly are not much different than what most states have been using for years. So what are teachers opposed to? They are opposed to the testing tied the Common Core. They already loathe the overemphasis on standardized testing and believe the Common Core will increase that emphasis even more.

Myth #6 – Teachers only teach, because they cannot do anything else.

Teachers are some of the smartest people I know. It is frustrating that there are people in the world that actually believe that teaching is an easy profession full of people that are incapable of doing anything else. Most become teachers because they love working with young people and want to make an impact. It takes an exceptional person and those who consider it glorified “babysitting” would be shocked if they shadowed a teacher for a few days. Many teachers could pursue other career paths with less stress and more money, but choose to stay in the profession because they want to be a difference maker.

Myth #7 – Teachers are out to get my child.

Most teachers are there because they genuinely care for their students.

For the most part, they are not out to get a child. They have a certain set of rules and expectations that every student is expected to follow. The chances are decent that the child is the issue if you think the teacher is out to get them. No teacher is perfect. There may be times that we come down too hard on a student. This often results out of frustration when a student refuses to respect the rules of the classroom. However, this does not mean we are out to get them. It means that we care enough about them to correct the behavior before it becomes uncorrectable.

Myth #8 – Teachers are responsible for my child’s education.

Parents are any child’s greatest teacher. Teachers only spend a few hours each day over the course of a year with a child, but parents spend a lifetime. In reality, it takes a partnership between parents and teachers to maximize a student’s learning potential. Neither parents nor teachers can do it alone. Teachers want a healthy partnership with parents. They understand the value that parents bring. They are frustrated by parents who believe they have little to no role in their child’s education other than making them go to school. Parents should understand that they are limiting their child’s education when they do not get involved.

Myth #9 – Teachers are continuously opposed to change.

Most teachers embrace change when it is for the better. Education is a continuously changing field. Trends, technology, and new research are continuously evolving and teachers do a decent job of keeping up with those changes.

What they fight against is bureaucratic policy that forces them to do more with less. In recent years, class sizes have increased, and school funding has decreased, but teachers are expected to produce greater results than at any time. Teachers want more than the status quo, but they want to be properly equipped to fight their battles successfully.

Myth #10 – Teachers are not like real people.

Students get used to seeing their teachers in “teacher mode” day in and day out. It is hard sometimes to think of them as real people who have lives outside of school. Teachers are often held to a higher moral standard. We are expected to behave a certain way at all times. However, we are very much real people. We have families. We have hobbies and interests. We have lives outside of school. We make mistakes. We laugh and tell jokes. We like to do the same things everyone else likes to do. We are teachers, but we are people too.