/Teachers And Their Loved Ones Are Speaking On The Horrors Of Working In Education, And It’s Gut-Wrenching

Teachers And Their Loved Ones Are Speaking On The Horrors Of Working In Education, And It’s Gut-Wrenching

Teachers of the BuzzFeed Community have spoken at length about the stressful conditions of their jobs. From physical and emotional threats, to unsupportive leadership, to a lack of community support, many teachers are experiencing burnout and abandoning the profession. We heard from even more teachers, as well as loved ones of teachers, who further revealed just how thankless the profession can be. Here’s what people shared:

1.“The worst I have been physically injured was by a preschooler, and I’ve taught up to eighth grade. This preschooler destroyed the classroom and caused us to have to evacuate the other kids weekly. He busted my lip open throwing toys at me. I took a picture of my lip and the destroyed classroom and reported it. We wrote down every incident and asked for any kind of assistance from administrators, social workers, counselors, etc. Mom was on board with us getting help, but we were refused help multiple times. I ended up quitting that position after four months because admin didn’t respond to anything.”


2.“A friend of mine taught ninth and tenth grade English for two years. Both years, she had this incredibly arrogant, entitled boy in her classroom who thought he was the king of the school. He was rude, disruptive, misogynistic, and just cruel all around. My friend emailed his parents multiple times during that two-year period about their son’s behavior and was completely ignored. She went to admin and they essentially told her to suck it up and quit whining. It all came to a head in the middle of the fall semester when she failed him on an essay that had been obviously and blatantly plagiarized. She failed him, obviously, and he lost his mind in the classroom. He threw things, broke the desk, and walked up and punched her in the face. Security was called and he was escorted out, and my friend immediately filed a police report and started looking into filling a lawsuit against the school and the kid’s parents for abuse.”

“All charges magically disappeared. The police report was filed as resolved, the kid was back in class the day after, and her calls to lawyers went unanswered. Apparently the kid’s dad was an attorney and saw that all the charges were dropped and threatened to sue my friend for harassment if she pursued it any further. She walked out that day and never looked back. Apparently, a few weeks later, that same kid got really mouthy with one of the campus security officers and attacked him with a brick, so three campus officers tackled him to the ground and proceeded to march him around campus in handcuffs. Since the assault was captured on the body cam, there’s not much dad can do about preventing it from going to court.”


sole student walking a school hallway

Hal Bergman Photography / Getty Images

3.“I left education. Parents are the worst. I spent over a decade of being bullied by the worst of them. Final straw: I reprimanded a violent fourth grader who was threatening and hurting classmates, and I had my teaching certificate threatened because of it. I decided just to let my certificate expire. Loved teaching, but hated the politics and ridiculousness heaved upon good teachers.”


4.“My friend was an elementary school art teacher, and this one kid was so bad, he hit her several times (I think five). He was such a nightmare, she dreaded going to school, but had the consolation that next year, he wouldn’t be in her class. Whelp, she was moved to a higher grade, and the kid came with her. Of course, he assaulted her several times (jumped on her back and strangled her, and bit her so hard it broke skin). She was told that she couldn’t eject him from her classroom because the school had a 10 strikes and you’re out policy. And, it resets every year.”


paint supplies

Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

5.“As someone who left with years of experience, I just want to send a shoutout to all of you who were the ‘good kids.’ The quiet ones. The ones who never raised your hands. Who never made trouble. Who turned in your work. Who didn’t ask for much. Who thought you were good at ‘disappearing’ in the classroom. Know this: We saw you. We cared about you. I’m sorry we were too overburdened with your disruptive classmates to pay more attention to you. We remember you. And you’re the ones we still miss from our teaching careers. Yeah, those other kids ruined it for all of us. But, you’re the ones who kept us coming back as long as we did. We still think of you. We wonder whatever happened to you. Did you get into that college you wanted? Get married? Get your dream job? But most of all, we wish we could have made school a lot better for you. You deserved more than the bullies and the weak administrators. You are remembered!”


6.“My mom worked as a cafeteria manager at an elementary school in the 1990s and 2000s and had HORROR stories about both the parents and the principal. The principal would badger her about things that were truly beyond her control, meanwhile, she was doing the best she could with the food and small budget that was sent her way. This was a mid-size elementary school, and it was just my mom and two other main workers feeding hundreds of kids. Even then, parents would accuse her and her workers of ‘stealing’ their kids’ lunch money, and to me the saddest part was that there were a good number of kids who qualified for free or reduced lunch and the parents wouldn’t sign up for it because they were ashamed.”

“My sister and I would help her from time to time (I was in college and my sister had just graduated high school), and my mom is literally one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve met. She left a few years before full retirement because 1) It was a physically intense job, and 2) she was able to leave at the time. We need to fix this system, if that’s even possible, because we’re looking at a huge crisis if we don’t do something.”


empty school cafeteria

Mint Images / Getty Images/Mint Images RF

7.“I was a long-term substitute in the 2019–2020 school year. As horrible as COVID is, at least it allowed me to leave that horrible job. The kids were most definitely not the problem. It was the teachers and administration. They begged me to be long-term and said they would provide me with so much support, but that was a lie. I didn’t even receive teacher technology until AFTER Christmas break. Since mostly everything is done electronically now, not having it really screwed me over. They were like, ‘Just bring in your Mac.’ Uhhhh, not everybody likes Apple. I don’t buy Apple products, and their system required Apple products. Not only that, but the other teachers of my grade didn’t include me in the planning prep, so I was going in without a clue on Mondays because they never sent me the lesson plans until 3:00 a.m. on Mondays.”

“Then, they’d be upset because I didn’t read them by the time school started. When I would go to either of them for advice on how to handle a certain situation, they never helped. They would tell me to give up on certain students because they were, and I quote, ‘too stupid to learn.’ They weren’t too stupid to learn; they just had crappy teachers for the last six years who didn’t care if they learned. Every single teacher in that school was jaded. I know this because at my parent-teacher conferences, almost every parent told me that their child had never had a teacher who actually cared about their child learning anything.

And the school was just focused on those standardized tests. All they cared about was students scoring well on those. Not whether or not the students were absorbing the information or anything. I hated that school so much and it ruined me for substitute teaching forever.Now I only work in education as a remote tutor.”


8.“I was a PRESCHOOL teacher and I have literal scars from my students. I had no support or training to handle the behaviors in my classroom and the principal would regularly insult me. HR did nothing, and I quit in the middle of the year.”


baby toys

Quique Olivar Gomez / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9.“My mom is a teacher at a middle school in Florida. Last year, a student brought a gun to school. The administration found it early on and decided it was best to not tell any of the teachers that there was an incident so they could prepare just in case. Later in the day, a different student’s parent posted about it on Facebook, which made basically everyone who works/attends that school incredibly angry that they weren’t made aware of the possible danger.”


10.“After the spring of 2020, I had students who (parroting their parents, in many cases) refused to wear masks, claimed Covid wasn’t real, claimed that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from Trump, heavily supported the January 6th uprising, and more. I teach teenagers, and I also saw a rise in boys quoting Andrew Tate and defending police brutality. It was like entering some Twilight Zone/Black Mirror dimension. It didn’t help that some administrators fully agreed and thought the solutions should involve arming teachers or not punishing students who refused COVID regulations. I went to the administration twice about the fact that with the number of students in my room, we couldn’t safely distance, and was told ‘not to worry about it.’ Oh, and I had parents who were positive that school shootings were fake, à la Alex Jones.”

“Parents who had been previously admonished or ignored for paranoid behavior and mistreatment of teachers were suddenly being listened to as having valid complaints. It was so incredibly infuriating. I taught at a private school at the time, which for folks who don’t know, means no union. You can be fired for literally anything and sued if you speak publicly about any details.

I want to say that the vast majority of my students were lovely and many, many parents are kind and so grateful that you care about their kids. Truly the bad situations are the vast minority, at least in my experience! But, that can be a powerful minority if listened to by administrators and general society. I switched schools (I was going to lose my job anyway) and am happier now, but damn, it’s a tough job, even if you love it and see it as a calling.”


  Momo Productions / Getty Images

Momo Productions / Getty Images

11.“This is my 15th year teaching and I’m taking a leave of absence next year to explore other avenues. I don’t think I have another 15 years left in me. We’re all so burnt out. I would never encourage someone to go into teaching nowadays.”


12.“I teach internationally right now because it’s always been my dream, but at this point, it was a blessing I found a job when I did. I taught in the States for 21 years, so I saw the decline in our schools and student behavior. Moving overseas is probably the best thing I have done for myself and my family because I don’t have to deal with the nonsense American teachers deal with. I know there are a lot of students who do the ‘right thing,’ but I feel like even that number is sometimes not enough to entice teachers to stay.”

“It’s not right and it’s not normal for students to bully, harass, become violent with, or even kill people who are simply trying to educate them. And the fact that parents of America are turning a blind eye to this growing issue is disgusting.”


empty classroom

Maskot / Getty Images/Maskot

13.“Two times I could have walked out the building. One was after being yelled at by an admin in front of my coworkers, and the other was this past year when I had two girls get in a screaming match with each other, dropping every swear word possible. Principal got fired, girls had no consequences. Welcome to the public school system.”


14.“Not only do we financially abuse teachers by underpaying them and expecting them to close the gap of insufficient classroom resources out of their own personal funds, we also don’t do enough to prevent them from being physically and emotionally abused on the job.”


person shopping for school supplies

Isabel Pavia / Getty Images

15.“I left after the treatment I received from administration during my high-risk pregnancy. Also, they never helped when dealing with aggressive students. Yes, they were pre-kindergarteners, but I had a student deliberately trying to hurt me, my coworker, and other students, and administration never backed us up.”


16.“I’m so regretful that I chose elementary education as my major in college. My undergrad was so stressful in the classroom. After graduating, I subbed for about a year and decided not to pursue teaching. Both of my parents were elementary teachers for 35+ years and I saw firsthand the stress they endured day in and day out. I’m so glad I didn’t pursue it, but now I feel I wasted time and money, and I now owe student loans. It’s definitely all my fault since I could have switched majors/not gone down that path to begin with (I should have listened to my gut after observing my parents’ stress!), but it’s just really sad that so many people go into this field genuinely wanting to make a difference, but are faced with the depressing reality of how terribly stressful it is for horrendously low pay.”

“It’s just not worth it in the end. And with that being said, I truly believe teachers are heroes and deserve ALL of the recognition in the world. The fact that they are not appropriately compensated is a crime.”


  Mint Images / Getty Images/Mint Images RF

Mint Images / Getty Images/Mint Images RF

17.“I left teaching this summer after 17 years. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only do I make considerably more now, I’m so much less stressed. It’s only been a few months, but I’m still not used to the freedom that comes with no micromanaging.”


18.“I went to university to become a teacher. My last semester before graduation was the ‘student teaching’ practice. The kids were so awful (middle schoolers) that I decided there was NO WAY I was going to teach for a living. I now work in an industry that has nothing to do with my degree at all.”


  Tony Anderson / Getty Images

Tony Anderson / Getty Images

19.“Just left after 17 years. I am so happy not to be going back this fall. Anyone else who’s thinking about leaving, know that it can be done. It’s scary and took a lot of work on my part, but I was finally able to resign last week. I’m making more money, working from home, and am still in the world of learning and development, so I do get to use a lot of my skills!”


20.“I was a teacher in England for only four years, then I left the system. I watched the head and deputy rip work off the walls in front of my students because one had a spelling error. There was only one error, which was amazing for that student. I was the only teacher to get an ‘excellent’ in the inspection, but no one from management congratulated me. It was a Catholic school, and I was one of two non-Catholic teachers. I had my own church to go to on a Sunday, but was berated for not going to their services, even though I gave up my time to go to some extra services to support pupils going through confirmation. It got to the point where I was singled out in staff meetings, got more displays ripped down, and I had more lesson observations than anyone else. So, I just resigned mid-term.”

“The pleasure I felt when I walked up to management to say ‘don’t bother observing me again’ as I was leaving was immense! I taught in a college for one year after that where senior management had it out for all of us as a team, and I just couldn’t cope. That was it. The only teaching I’ve done since then has been homeschooling my kids.”


empty church pews

Catherine Mcqueen / Getty Images

21.And: “Teaching once used to be a highly respected profession. Kids were expected to behave, even when they were out of the sight of their parents, and most of them were well aware of that fact. But now, teaching is one of the most thankless jobs on the planet, due to bratty kids, unsupportive parents, long hours with low pay, curriculums that leave teachers little room to teach as they see fit, relentless testing and test prepping, and schools admins who may have spent very little, if any, time in an actual classroom, but think that they can tell teachers how to do THEIR jobs. And, who let violent students off the hook because they don’t want to have to deal with them. I don’t blame today’s teachers for turning away from the profession in droves!”


Teachers, I’m so sorry that society continues to fail you. Thank you for everything you do.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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