Top 5 Things That Drive Teachers Crazy

Teaching may not be the oldest profession in history, but it is one of the most esteemed. But even with its legacy and admiration, the education system is not perfect. There are many things that can be improved and there are better ways that we can pay and support our teachers.

Among these blemishes, there is a smaller list of things that really drive teachers crazy. Most of them have been on teacher lists for almost ever. However, that doesn’t make them any less annoying.

ESGI and ThinkFives surveyed hundreds of teachers to find out what truly drove them crazy. Here is their Top 5 list.

Student Behavior

Student Behavior

A number of teachers mentioned that student behavior has been deteriorating over the last decade. Other teachers say it’s always been a challenge, but it can be handled well if you have good leadership at the school and district level.

The lack of teacher empowerment and the feeling that some administrators “don’t have their back” drives teachers crazy. It may range from small nuisances like students not paying attention, asking the same questions over and over again, or the general lack of interest in completing any assignment to more serious behavioral issues.  The latter requires collaboration with teachers, administration and school counselors – and the determination to balance support and expectation.

Teacher Quotes

  • “Students lack of enjoyment of learning new things.”
  • “Students who don’t follow directions.”
  • “The behavior of the students.”
  • “Not being supported with disruptive behavior and not getting to do all my lessons as planned due to behaviors.”
  • “Teachers that want someone else to take students that have behavioral issues.”
Lack of support

Lack of support

One of the key reasons teachers leave teaching is their lack of power to make decisions about their own classrooms and the lack of resources to get their work done.

This can range from textbooks being out of date, to outdated computers in the classroom, to a lack of basic necessities like heat or air conditioning.  It also extends to the lack of time provided for training, professional development and class preparations. 

Worse yet for teachers is when the district fails to support teachers who confront chronic bad behavior by students or parents.

A few statistics emphasize these issues:

  • 71.3% of teachers reported not having much control or influence on selecting the content, topics, and skills they will be teaching in their classrooms.
  • 60% of teacherss reported not feeling a lot of cooperative effort among staff members.
  • 27.3 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively, reported that students’ unpreparedness to learn and parents’ struggles to be involved were serious problems.

Teacher Quotes

  • “All the data taken at the beginning of the year (Central Office demands) with no technology and resources for data to give to parents.”
  • “Constant changes with no time to prepare for those changes, being asked to do additional work but then not given the resources to do that.
  • “Lack of support from my principal and inequity of services/materials across schools.”
  • “When technology doesn’t work as it should and I waste time.”
  • “Too much paperwork and micromanaging from the people who haven’t been in the classroom.”
  • “Only about one-fifth of parents consistently attend school programs, more than 40 percent never do.”


Another issue that a number of teachers cited as  driving them crazy is the lack of collaboration and support from their coworkers.  Some teachers, for example, will not share resources even when it is reciprocated.  They feel like they own the resources and may only be effective if they taught the content.

Other teachers set bad examples by gossiping about students, talking disrespectfully about parents or generally creating a negative atmosphere in the school building.  They are quick to blame teachers from preceding years for the lack of success their students are having and often don’t take responsibility to learn new methodologies in pedagogy that would better both their teaching effectiveness and the achievement of their students.

Teacher Quotes

  • “Colleagues (teachers) who don’t learn the names of the classified staff and/or who don’t work hard with the kiddos at the focal point of their efforts–sometimes you have to work past your contract!”
  • “Coworkers who refuse to look things up on their own before asking.”
  • “Coworkers that take and take but never share.”
  • “Lazzzzzzy people, and gossip that is hurtful.”
  • “Coworkers who think they have everything figured out and don’t show weakness.”


The least surprising item on this list is “The Administration.”  Unfortunately, in many districts, an “us versus them” mentality exists.  While teachers must take some responsibility for allowing this mentality to fester, often it’s the indifference of administrations to the needs of teachers that primarily drive this lack of collaboration.

As one researcher shares, “Confusion results when administrators do not have regular and open lines of communication with their teaching staff or with their superiors. Because of overwhelming responsibilities, principals tend to become less accessible, which leads to less face-to-face interaction, which is important for the teachers and students.”

Teachers get particularly annoyed when district officials without classroom experience make decisions that affect the curriculum and learning. For example, a finance office deciding which resources should be part of a reading program. Or the IT department deciding certain software should not be used by teachers.

Teacher Quotes

  • “Administrators who are out of touch with all the moving pieces that classroom teachers manage day-to-day.”
  • “Administrators who have no idea what we do daily, yet give us more and more work.”
  • “Lack of understanding from administrators in regard to the amount of extra time put into teaching.”
  • “People who are not in the classroom making decisions that affect classrooms.”
  • “When admin adds more and more without thinking about the real impact of adding things that do not benefit our students.”
Parent Complaints

Parent Complaints

#1 on the list of things that drive teachers crazy are parents. Depending on the school or district in which you teach, the key problems with parents can be either too much involvement or not enough. Teachers grow weary of parent complaints that are unreasonable or that are outside of their control.

The complaints range from parents who don’t like the curriculum … or that kids don’t have enough recess after elementary school … to complaints that certain schools receive less district support than others.  But even when complaints are focused on the classroom, tirades are often single-issue concerns that affect few students and often make no sense.   Parents complain about their child’s performance, the difficulty of assessments, or the reading lists in higher grades.

Why does this drive teachers crazy?  No matter what they say, many teachers personalize the complaint. The need to solve problems is part of a teacher’s makeup and they often feel they need to find a compromise to appease a parent without compromising their own values or the good of all students.  It may only be a few parents, but it does drive teachers crazy.

Teacher Quotes

  • “Families that do not support their children’s education; adults that talk the talk but don’t actually do the work with their own children.”
  • “Parents interrupting my class time.”
  • “Parents who do not read my newsletter and then email me to ask me the same questions I’ve covered in my newsletter.”
  • “When parents talk about up coming breaks and our students go crazy for the last week.”
  • “Parents who believe their students should be in more advanced classes when they are struggling below grade level in their current classes.”



What do you THINK?

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