In recent coverage, Education Week reporter Madeline Will wrote about how teachers can curb the “October Blues,” a term coined to describe an often-challenging month in the school year. For some educators, the excitement of the new year has worn off and the difficult realities of teaching set in by the time “spooky season” rolls around.
Some educators responding to the article on Facebook said that the teaching challenges faced during the month of October don’t hold a candle to those in other months. We wanted to learn more.
Using a LinkedIn poll, we asked teachers to weigh in on the hardest season for teaching, and over 2,400 of our followers participated in the poll. The top season selected? Spring, which accounted for 40 percent of the poll’s votes.
(Our poll is based on a convenience sample, not a nationally representative one, so the results aren’t definitive.)
Across other social media posts, we asked teachers to name the most challenging month of the school year for teaching. Here’s what they said—and why they said it.
Fall (September, October, November)
“September. All new students, curriculum planning, meetings, setting up units, updating resources and more… That’s just my work now I have to go home and be a parents of a student.”
“October is usually the hardest. Students are finally getting routines but can tend to revert back to previous behaviors. Plus it just feels long.”
“October is TOUGH! It’s hard to maintain routines in school and for our own wellbeing outside of school. There’s always more to do and students get restless which makes us restless. Is the ‘Fall Wall’ over yet?”
“I think October is the toughest. The honeymoon is over and students start to test their boundaries. It is certainly the time that tests classroom management and there are no days off.”
“October. There are extra (unpaid) duties that require after hours work like homecoming, senior night, parent-teacher conferences, bonfires, etc. also, beginning of the year good behavior honeymoon comes crashing to an end.”
“November. The honeymoon is over, you’ve identified who needs extra behavior or academics support, but you’re still trying things out to see what works. You’ve usually gone without a day off since Labor Day. It’s dark, but without the holiday cheer of December. And to top it off, I always get sick.”
“Fall was the most difficult for a retired kindergarten teacher. A lot of kids had separation anxiety. Trying to establish new routines wasn’t easy. Some students were not completely potty trained. Discovering food allergies that parents were not aware of was tough. Understanding students learning styles took time. But, I would not have traded this profession for any other. The successes outweighed anything else.”
Winter (December, January, February)
“December. So much going on and kids are excited about the holidays.”
“January. No breaks in sight. It’s cold. Weather interruptions. Kids hyped from Christmas. The honeymoon phase is over and the year still has a long way to go.”