January 30

116 Problems in Education (by the Teachers Working There)

When I invite a teacher to join my community, I ask them a single question …

What is the Most Frustrating Part of Your Classroom Job?

Their answers frequently surprise and shock me.

In this post I want to publish some of their words to help teachers feeling the same things …

… and for those outside education unaware of what is really happening in our ‘modern’ school system.

So, in no particular order ...


  1. “The gap, no chasm, that exists between how humans learn and how schools operate.” 
  2. “The unwritten yet common understanding that ‘it is never enough’.”
  3. “The lack of respect for teacher judgment.”
  4. “I currently feel like I’m being managed out. As a female teacher in my early 50s, I’ve got years of experience, but I’m sensing something is not right.”
  5. “I think it would be the constant collection of "data" that is only used to prove that I am doing my job.”
  6. “Toxic positivity”
  7. “I am terrified of being bullied again or getting in trouble. I think I suffer from PTSD”
  8. “I am so frustrated by the push to get through curriculum rather than focusing on rich experiences.”
  9. “I love my classroom job. The problem is “outside of the classroom”, being bullied by line management is the real problem”
  10. “I used to have so much joy in teaching and it's just gone.”
  11. “Unrealistic expectations, being treated like a babysitter when I hold three degrees” 
  12. “Pushing children too far, too soon. Never being good enough!”
  13. “Hidden agendas and changes that have little or no impact on teaching and learning.” 
  14. “Data for the sake of it!”
  15. “That the entire state of education today is based on unpaid overtime of teachers. The normalization of working 12 hrs a day and on weekends for little pay.”
  16. “I’m working so much trying to keep my head above water that I don’t feel like a person outside of the classroom.” 
  17. “Feeling undervalued and dispensable”
  18. “I am tired of setting kids up for failure when most of the curriculum is not developmentally appropriate” 
  19. “Actual teaching seems to be about 25% of the job, and I can barely find the energy to enjoy that anymore.” 
  20. “I feel like I'm alone. I don't think I can share my worries because my coworkers expect positivity even when I don't feel it.”
  21. “coming home completely exhausted with no motivation for my family” 
  22. “Students who are more concerned with grades and minimum effort than with learning" 
  23. “I'm tired of inauthentic learning”
  24. “It doesn’t stay in the classroom.” 
  25. “So much work for so little pay. I hate the idea that teachers are glamorized as martyrs.”
  26. “‘How things look’ being more important than ‘how things actually are’” 
  27. “No one should have to work this hard” 
  28. “I am treated as expendable” 
  29. “Feeling that I am never enough.” 
  30. “How much of "me" this job has taken away.”
  31. “Teachers are forced to keep trying to fix symptoms when the problems are ignored. “ 
  32. “How children are just numbers on a data spreadsheet.” 
  33. “The "school system" as a whole is not designed for student success, teacher support, or true community building”
  34. “I’m constantly overwhelmed”
  35. “That my hard work and dedication only leads to higher work expectations.”
  36. “I don't matter to decision-makers”
  37. “I never seem to leave it. Work follows me home”
  38. “feeling like I’m constantly drowning” 
  39. “My self-esteem is in tatters”
  40. “I feel the priority has moved to completing paperwork, evidencing everything, ticking boxes and being judged....rather than on the sparkle in the children’s eyes, and their enthusiasm for what you’re providing for them” 
  41. “Never ending, pointless paperwork” 
  42. “Divide and rule style management.” 
  43. “It never used to be like this – but I now live a very anxious life” 
  44. “Parents inability to let their child take responsibility for their actions“ 
  45. “I’m doing so much more work at home than ever. I don’t see my own boy”
  46. “Micromanagement and forcing everyone to be robots” 
  47. “Guilt about trying to balance the demands of work with the demands on my family” 
  48. “Education no longer feels relevant to this generation. We need a systematic change” 
  49. “Being judged and not being able to express my teaching style” 
  50. “The unrealistic expectations”
  51. “I'm not teaching anymore. I'm just playing games with data and teaching to the test - I'm also being micromanaged and treated like I'm dumb and expendable. It's not OK” 
  52. “Mandated teaching strategies that aren’t working”
  53. “Constant stress and unrealistic expectations”
  54. “I’m exhausted after 18 years. I shouldn’t be. Our education system is flawed and I’ve not got the energy to keep swimming against the tide”
  55. “Time - everything is a race”
  56. “Not being able to enjoy/have fun with my students because I'm spending too much time documenting things”
  57. “The workload and the toll it takes on my mental health is not okay.”
  58. “I leave nearly every day in tears”
  59. “Needless box ticking exercises created to make managers / administrators look good with no concept of the increase workload to the teachers”
  60. “the lack of respect in society for Educators today”
  61. “we are not allowed the freedom to use our professional discretion”
  62. “Experienced teachers (like myself) are considered problematic because we have opinions”
  63. “The lack of 'me' time. Whenever I do anything not related to my job I feel guilty that I should be working.”
  64. “Expectations are just too high and set by people who care more about data than pupils enjoying school”
  65. “Not having the time to truly get to know the children in my class because managers/admin put so much pressure on progress”
  66. “The goalposts move every day”
  67. “Putting in an outrageous amount of work only to be told I’m not “doing it right” or not “doing enough.” “
  68. “The inability to actually do my job of passing on the joy of learning to the next generation”
  69. “The curriculum is not developmentally appropriate. I wish I could run a classroom where I'd want my own child to attend.”
  70. “Lack of any involvement in the decision-making process”
  71. “I realized it was consuming my life and heath”
  72. “"Going above and beyond only to be told it's not enough”
  73. “Teaching is hard enough. However it's exponentially harder when your supervisor has had no teaching experience and provides constant criticism and no support. She has been targeting staff around the school. I am her latest target.”
  74. “School expects me to put up with verbal & physical abuse with a smile on my face”
  75. “The feeling of never having enough time to do it all, yet working ALL the time....”
  76. “I HATE the fact that as soon as you become familiar with a framework/curriculum and the expectations, it changes and you're supposed to implement these changes immediately.”
  77. “The complete lack of recognition from managers and the constant focus on what teachers are doing wrong”
  78. “It NEVER ENDS”
  79. “I have nothing left to give to my most important relationships. No energy for my life!”
  80. “I’m expected to care for students’ mental health with no support for my own”
  81. “I am so tired of getting blamed for an 11-year-olds choices”
  82. “My district judges me for engaging in fun outings like going to concerts, dating, or even going out for dinner (drinks implied). I’ve been told my private life is “conduct unbecoming” of a teacher.”
  83. “I am scared I will not be able to keep up this pace until my retirement. “
  84. “I was bullied out of my job by a new principal … I was too expensive for her!”
  85. “Being forced to follow the latest fad”
  86. “Being contracted to 2 days a week but having to work at home for 5”
  87. “The expectations of the curriculum on our youngest learners and the detrimental effect it is having on mental health of our children.”
  88. “Not being able to spend quality time with the children as individuals”
  89. “The unending request to do more and more, to prove that I am doing what I am doing It seems as if teaching is about proving things to some nameless body and not actually about the children.”
  90. “The insane emphasis on test scores ... the lack of accountability for kids and parents - so much blame on us.”
  91. "tick box teaching"
  92. “I am expected to be there for my students while neglecting my own school age children at home”
  93. “I became a teacher because I am creative, enthusiastic and nurturing. Those qualities are no longer valued”
  94. “Micromanagement and unrealistic expectations … being treated like I don't know how to do my job”
  95. “The exhaustion and pressure to spend every ounce of who I am on my job.”
  96. “No support when behaviour is a constant issue.”
  97. “I love my classroom, but hate all the hours of jumping through hoops around it”
  98. “I find that every year (this is number 30) I have the responsibility of doing more with less. I have all of the responsibility over the outcome but none of the control over the input”
  99. “The never-ending demands/checklist of things we have to do besides just TEACH.”
  100. “The major bullying I experienced from management. I loved teaching and the children but the work environment was too toxic”
  101. “The lack of creativity and lack of space to really connect with the children”
  102. “All these little jobs they give us to do on the side - we are never given the time to do them. We teach 8 hours a day, but have to continue working into the night and on weekends”
  103. “Exhaustion - the cup is empty”
  104. “I feel that I am just being used as a paper pusher and I am not heard. Our kids are not getting the true education they deserve”
  105. “The children are now lines on a spreadsheet – not human beings any more”
  106. “Constantly being judged by my principal and him visiting my classroom in hopes of finding me doing something wrong”
  107. “I’m not able to teach students mastery”
  108. “My professional knowledge and skills aren’t valued anymore. I have no say in what I teach or how I teach it – I am disciplined when I am creative”
  109. “More concern for ticking boxes rather than developing and supporting the individual child”
  110. “Being told to ‘work smarter’ by managers with zero understanding of how impossible they have made my job”
  111. “My job was incompatible with being a father – the person my daughter was getting to know wasn’t me”
  112. “The lack of freedom to be creative - every single display board and lesson plan has to have a uniformed approach. Everything I say has to reflect what happens in other classrooms!”
  113. “Creativity is frowned upon, children are numbers and we all must fit into the same box”
  114. “Pressure to teach a ‘one size fits all’ curriculum and not what is appropriate for children.”
  115. “The lack of respect from those in Government and the media - and those who believe all the lies they read!”
  116. “Society has no clue how much stress we are under, and for the most part think we are just complainers. People try to make comparisons saying that all jobs are stressful - these individuals have never spent a day in the life of a teacher”

If you are a teacher working in the classroom - please take the time to look after your own physical and mental health. 

I have created a Teacher Burnout Self Assessment Tool with my doctor which will assess early symptoms, and provide a Burnout Prevention report based on your answers.

You can access this below:

Teacher Burnout Assessment Tool

And if you teach in school and have a 117. to contribute - please add it in the comments below. 

(You can make up a name and email address)

I believe that it's long past time that the professional opinions of teachers were heard.

If this resonates with you, please share it ...

About the author 

James Anthony

After teaching for 20 years in the UK, I now help Schools, Universities, and Entrepreneurs to create and deliver transformational online learning.
I also work with educators across the world helping them use their skills in new ways - to live happier healthier lives.


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  1. The shift to online teaching and the uncertainty in the lives of our learners has ramped up teacher stress and workload. Presenteeism means learners will contact any time of the day or night including weekends and fret until they receive a reply. Duty devotion to our calling and guilt drive us to meet their demands. Meanwhile, Microsoft and managers can and do monitor your every online interaction; big brother watching you only serves to add to the unease. Microsoft reminds you of tasks not fulfilled and how much 'focus' time you have had – that's laughable in itself. Multitasking is being pushed to the extremes whilst online. My once neat and tidy home is a reflection of the inside of my head. An untidy muddle of hastily done, never quite finished properly or picked up and put down again as least of priority. And the least priority? My own health and wellbeing whilst my place of work plays lip service and other dedicated staff lay on online things to encourage our mental health and wellbeing which, due to workload and timetable, you don't ever have time to take part in or access.

  2. They want us to teach a large amount of curriculum in an unreasonably short amount of time. We are told there is no mastery only exposure, yet we grade and test for mastery. We are top heavy above school level and every subject acts as if that is the only one you teach. We have to jump through their hoops, so they can prove why their job should not be cut.

  3. Constantly going above and beyond and being told it’s “wrong” or “not enough”. Getting guidance from colleagues who actually care to take the time to help yet still getting picked on by admin who walk around posting on social media all day, demanding certain expectations of teachers and then never showing them how to do it. Thus, you fail again.

  4. When the SLT state that staff mental health is a priority and to make sure that you rest up over the weekend but by Monday you’re on capability procedures because the middle leaders and curriculum supervisors have not been informed how you’re supporting your lower ability art pupils.

  5. Being picked on and micromanaged for things like typos in my emails when I have coworkers literally sleeping through meetings. My principal only talks to me in order to criticize me.

  6. I have experienced workplace bullying throughout my entire teaching career. The bullies spend more time planning the bullying
    than they do planning lessons for the children. I love children and teaching, but I am so stressed because of the harassment, I have vowed to quit. I have left the classroom and performed other jobs and then returned to the classroom.

    Sometimes school boards, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, custodians, and parents are involved. Sometimes middle school age and high school students are involved.

    Principals stack classes and then refuse to discipline students when they are sent to the office and blame the teacher for not being able to control the class. Sometimes students are not disciplined because a teacher is not liked, but if a liked teacher sends the same student , the child is disciplined.

    Also, I have been sexually slandered . Administrators have made advances toward me and made my job harder when I didn’t respond to the advances.

    Sometimes teacher unions protect the school districts instead of happy the victims.

    1. If you make the district mad, it may refuse to send your W2. I had to threaten to call the IRS before I received my W2. One colleague said that she had to get an attorney because the district wouldn’t complete their portion of her retirement paperwork. I asked for completion of my retirement paperwork approximately three weeks ago. I didn’t receive it so I stated that I would call the state and DOL. I’m still waiting for my paperwork.

      Also, I’m wondering why certain school district don’t use substitute teachers as needed.

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