William Arthur Ward, an American writer, once said: “The mediocre teacher tells, The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
However, it takes a lot for one to become a great teacher because the journey towards becoming an ideal educator isn’t like walking on a bed of roses.
In fact, the teaching profession – which is often glorified yet underappreciated – can really take a toll on one’s personal and professional life.
Hence, to commemorate Teacher’s Day, WORLD OF BUZZ reached out to several teachers in Malaysia and asked them to share some struggles that educators face on a daily basis. Thankfully, the educators graciously agreed to share with us their insights!
So, without further ado, here are some of the struggles that educators face in order to fulfil their responsibility of educating future generations.
1. Teachers are overloaded with other work besides teaching
Often times, we think that the teaching profession’s scope is pretty small because it only involves preparing lessons and teaching students, right? Think again!
This is because teachers are constantly burdened with a lot of paperwork as well as clerical work that can really affect their primary responsibility, which is teaching.
That said, paperwork is even more of a burden for teachers who have to handle classes from the lower and upper secondary because this means that their workload is doubled.
Secondary school Biology teacher, Mr Revee, said that the mounting paperwork and clerical work obstructs the teaching process because they can’t take the time to carefully plan their lessons for their classes.
On top of that, teachers also have to play other roles like the head of a unit or a discipline teacher. Needless to say, these additional roles add pressure on these individuals as they struggle to find the balance between everything.
“Finding and allocating the time to get everything done is a struggle. Teaching, lesson preparation, grading exams and homework as well as having to take up some additional administrative roles can drain our energy,” said Adeleine Aelissa, a 26-year-old preschool educator.
2. Educators are burdened with long teaching hours, often going without a break
The common misconception is that educators have a lot of time to spare when they are working but many teachers have iterated that time isn’t something that they can enjoy. Even though these individuals love their jobs, teaching non-stop for several hours can be emotionally and physically draining.
One teacher who wishes to remain anonymous told us that teachers – especially government school teachers – have a weekly teaching load of 24 to 28 periods. Dang, those are some long hours!
These unusually long teaching hours often impact the teachers’ health negatively, which results in them taking more medical leaves, as shared by Mr Revee.
3. Teachers are underpaid in private learning institutions
Another typical misunderstanding which people have is that educators who work in private learning institutions earn a lot. But, that’s not the case with some teachers who teach in private schools/colleges. Mrs Saras, who works as a lecturer said,
“Teachers in private institutions are very underrated hence, they are usually not paid according to their qualifications and experiences.”
Thus, Mrs Saras reckoned that educators will work better to nurture young minds if their hard work is rewarded in a proper manner. That seems like a legit suggestion!
4. Dealing with rude/unenthusiastic students can be demotivating for the educators
Back in school, we never thought that our actions could affect the teachers’ morale. More often than not, we think that sleeping in class or casually ignoring a teacher when they walk in for their period is no big deal, but for an educator, it can be very demotivating.
A teacher who has been teaching for 36 years in secondary schools was quoted as saying,
“If I come into class with a burning desire to impart the lesson for the day and one or two students decide to put their heads on the table (for a snooze), I would be annoyed.”
She further elaborated that even though she can continue teaching, seeing the students dozing off is not a good sight because her motivation for the day will have been lowered. On the other hand, Ms Vinna, who is a private institute teacher shared that sometimes students will indirectly hurl distasteful words towards the educator, which can be hurtful. That’s not very nice!
What’s even more surprising is that even educators who teach in colleges and universities have to deal with rude and immature students. Mrs Evelyn, who is a lecturer, said that it’s pretty challenging to deal with students, especially the Generation Z cohort who are very outspoken.
“The Gen-Z students generally employ poor attitudes in which they find it cool to not think about their actions. For instance, if they (the students) are late to class, they should apologise to the lecturer. Instead, they feel that it’s okay to enter the class late by giving a grand entrance,” said Mrs Evelyn, adding that the students don’t pay attention to assignment deadlines any more and always try to negotiate their way out.
Henceforth, the students’ poor attitude towards the educators can deeply affect the Teaching and Learning (TnL) process because teachers lose their enthusiasm to teach.
5. Worn-out infrastructure and lack of equipment in schools affect both teachers & students’ morale
While some schools are fully equipped and are in tip-top shape, this isn’t the case for many other schools as they lack in terms of additional teaching materials like laboratory equipment.
Mr Revee shared that a lot of hands-on learning is needed to teach subjects like Biology but unfortunately, the lack of laboratory apparatus in schools hinders him from giving the students a holistic learning experience.
Apart from that, he noted that a school’s infrastructure also plays an important role in the TnL but this issue seems to be brushed off. Mr Revee explained,
“Once I had to bring in my fan from home because two (ceiling) fans in the classroom weren’t working. It was a very hot day and the students (and I) were flustered because of the heat.”
In a nutshell, a school with better infrastructure and equipment can immediately boost the teachers and students’ spirit.
Having said that, all the teachers who we interviewed had one thing in common when talking about their profession, which is they don’t regret the path they have chosen because it has proven to be rewarding and gratifying.
Even though they face setbacks in their career, they wouldn’t give up this profession in a million years. Well, we are glad that they chose this noble profession!
So, we urge everyone to reach out to their former teachers and wish them a Happy Teacher’s Day because they deserve it. Don’t forget to also take the time to thank them for all that they have sacrificed for you.
On that note, WORLD OF BUZZ would also like to wish every teacher out there a Happy Teacher’s Day!