top of page

The Trouble with Being a Teacher

I've been watching "A Teacher" on Hulu and it's giving me pause. The show is about a thirty something white woman who teaches public school in Texas and involves herself with a senior in one of her AP lit classes.

Three episodes in there's no debating that Claire, the teacher, is in the wrong. Every episode starts with a trigger warning about troubling depictions of grooming and the show notes describe Claire as a sexual predator. We also see the power she wields in her position as teacher and how she uses it to manipulate her student. She makes one shitty choice after another and slides from "cool, hot older friend that drinks beer with you on the weekends" to "woman that could lose her job, don't ever do that again!" when it suits her.

As a teacher, I feel compelled to engage with this show because there are just so few stories about female teachers out there that aren't feeding into one harmful stereotype or another. There's the sexy teacher, the martyr teacher, the white savior teacher, and whatever Cameron Diaz was doing in Bad Teacher. It feels important to mention that in the US MOST teachers are female. In 2017, 76 percent of public school teachers in the US were women. At the elementary school level only 11 percent of teachers were male.

It's easy to forget that female teachers are in positions of power because our power is constantly being negated. If we're not being sexualized, we're being asked to work for free, or asked to put our personal health at risk to go raise a nation of kids to have good values and strong minds. I can't tell you how crazy making it is to constantly be told how important and honorable my work is and also be told that it isn't worth cultural respect or a living wage.

Teachers are powerful, women are powerful, and we need more stories that explore the dark and the light of these truths.

11 views0 comments


bottom of page