If They Told the Truth On All Classroom Teacher Job Descriptions

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author image_blankThis article was written by Vanessa Mize — a veteran teacher who has served in multiple teaching and administrative positions within various educational settings.  Her professional journey in these diverse positions has only been survived through the use of humor and "letting go" of a "Pollyanna" vision of education and instead approaching the career with realism and hope.

Below is an actual job description for a teaching position that was posted online, which has been translated into a realistic description of the literal teaching job, written by a teacher for all other teachers to roll on the floor laughing... or crying... or both. Enjoy!

Job Summary 

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1. What they say: To plan, organize, and implement an appropriate instructional program.

What that REALLY means: To plan, organize and implement the adopted curriculum and program by your school or district that may or may not match the student population needs or have been attempted in a similar context.

2. What they say: Teach in an elementary or secondary learning environment that guides and encourages students to develop and fulfill their academic potential.

What that REALLY means: Be trapped in a room that is decorated utilizing self-made or self-bought materials (which leave you making even less money), as outlined by the mission and vision of the school — NOT necessarily driven by the students interests.


3. What they say: Work is performed under the supervision of the principal.

What that REALLY means: Work is performed under the supervision of the person who you will come to believe you know more than, who may have never taught in the very grade level they are supervising, and/or who may have only a fraction of your own teaching-experience. 

Essential Functions of the Job:

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1. What they say: Plan, prepare and deliver lesson plans and instructional materials that facilitate active learning.

What that REALLY means: Spend your free time and money developing lesson plans that meet the instructional needs of those who are in charge of the curriculum.

2. What they say: Develops schemes of work, lesson plans and tests that are in accordance with established procedures.

What that REALLY means: Do what you are told and become a minion for those who believe they know what is best for the students in your class.

3. What they say: Instruct and monitor students in the use of learning materials and equipment.

What that REALLY means: Be prepared to teach students how to use simple learning tools such as scissors, pencils, markers, and computers appropriately.


4. What they say: Use relevant technology to support and differentiate instruction.

What that REALLY means: Find your own professional development opportunities to build your knowledge of educational technology resources and implement them in your classroom, should you have tech resources.

5. What they say: Manage student behavior in the classroom by establishing and enforcing rules and procedures.

What that REALLY means: Be skilled in your counseling, behavior specialist, and social work skills to ensure that students are able to remain in the classroom accessing the general education curriculum.

6. What they say: Maintain discipline in accordance with the rules and disciplinary systems of the school.

What that REALLY means: Be able to identify when you need to call for support for behavior without being that person who calls “too much”.

7.  What they say: Provide appropriate feedback on work.

What that REALLY means: Appropriate for the school setting.

8. What they say: Encourage and monitor the progress of individual students and use information to adjust teaching strategies.

What that REALLY means: Collect copious amounts of data to defend your practices and requests for the student to receive extra support for academic and behavioral needs.


9. What they say: Maintain accurate and complete records of students’ progress and development.

What that REALLY means: Basically, be prepared that all students will have an educational plan that requires time for development, data collection, intervention implementation, analysis of data, and input into a computer software program that seems to be written in a foreign language without any previous training.

10. What they say: Update all necessary records accurately and completely as required by laws, district policies and school regulations.

What that REALLY means: Don’t get sued or bring attention to the school for unlawful acts.

11. What they say: Prepare required reports on students and activities.

What that REALLY means: Remember the positive sandwich technique and stay in contact with parents on a regular basis not just when report cards and progress reports are due.

12. What they say: Participate in department, school, district and parent meetings.

What that REALLY means: Live at the school during your contract time and use summers as a time to find that balance between work and home everyone is talking about.

13. What they say: Provide a variety of learning materials and resources for use in educational activities.

What that REALLY means: Spend your money and become a regular user of Pintrest and TeachersPayTeachers.

14. What they say: Assign and grade class work, homework, tests and assignments.

What that REALLY means: Use your free time to meet your work obligations.

Other Functions of the Job

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1. What they say: Encourage parent and community involvement, obtain information for parents when requested, promptly return phone calls and answer emails.

What that REALLY means: Be at the beck and call of parents to ensure that their child is learning and reaching their full potential as identified by parents who have clearly passed the teacher licensure requirements and know how you are to do your job.  In your free time, solicit support and involvement of community members so that they may volunteer adding to your work of delegating and guiding adults so they can guide the students you are to obligated to guide.

2. What they say: Participate in appropriate professional activities.

What that REALLY means: Spend more money out of your already small stipend to be a teacher to maintain your licensure requirements and grow professionally.

3. What they say: Participate in extracurricular activities such as social activities, sporting activities, clubs and student organizations as directed.

What that REALLY means: Spend those times that you could actually go grocery shopping without seeing students because they are at the function, be building positive relationships with your own children and rejuvenating so you can teach the future, meeting the demands of the school organization without extra pay or kudos. Well maybe a line in the weekly memo that goes out.

4. What they say: Other duties as assigned.

What that REALLY means: Be prepared to be a lunchroom monitor, crossing guard, bus line supervisor, recess monitor, secretary, custodial activities as needed, bathroom monitor, social emotional teacher, and, if you are probationary — be a quiet, idea-hoarder, “yes sir/ma’am”-teacher, until your third year. Then, and only then, will you be allowed to “think” and "share.”

Knowledge, Skills and Ability Required

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1. What they say: The requirements below are representative of the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities required.

What that REALLY means: Until you are a non-probationary teacher who has stopped meeting the requirements satisfactorily and the system struggles to help you move on to a career that is a better fit an ultimately make all much happier.

Physical Requirements

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1. What they say: Regularly required to sit; stand; walk; talk; hear; operate a computer, hand-held learning devices, and other office equipment.

What that REALLY means: Sit rarely; stand all day; walk up to 10,000 steps per day (as measured by a Fitbit); talk to everyone; hear the complaints of your students, parents, admin, and colleagues; operate a desktop computer that must stay at the school, so all other work must be done on your personal laptop; hand-held learning devices, but NOT your personal phone (you're unavailable from 8:00-4:00 — the typical hours when most businesses will need to get ahold of you); and make hundreds of copies a week (if the office machine is working!), run a laminator that will get jammed at the least inopportune time, and use your own personal printer, should you need color copies.


2. What they say: Reach with hands and arms; and must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.

What that REALLY means: Reach to take away student phones and “calming tools” (aka fidget spinners), to give a nonverbal cue for that unwanted student hug, and to reach for the radio to get assistance with a behavioral problem in your class; and you will gain 10 pounds, due to the amount of snacks and treats you will eat throughout the holiday season, as all the time you'll use food to cope. Oh and don't forget you'll also be required to hold your bodily functions beyond reasonable limits, to ensure that you use the bathroom no more than 2 times per day.


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