If you haven’t figured it out already, teaching is a very difficult job. But the part that makes it almost impossible is the amount of teacher micromanaging that goes on. When supervisors feel the need to oversee even the smallest details, thus giving teachers extra busy work, they are sending a clear message that we are not trusted to do our jobs. This is one area that is easy to fix and doesn’t cost a thing, in fact, it might even save schools money by getting rid of a few administrators who spend most of their time bothering others for no good reason.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat through a meeting that consisted mainly of reminders about how to properly carry out mundane tasks that we already do on a regular basis. And we all know the reason for this meeting is to address the few individuals in the room who haven’t done it correctly in the past. How about instead of wasting the precious time of the entire staff, you have a meeting with the people who actually need the reminder?
Micromanaging staff is demoralizing and demeaning. I know for me, ironically, it makes me WANT to start cutting corners and breaking rules. Basically, if I feel like I’m being treated like a child, I cannot help but act like one.
Examples of Teacher Micromanaging
I asked my followers for the most ridiculous examples of teacher micromanaging. Here are a few of their responses below.
We’re not allowed to access paper. We have to ask for the exact amount that we need and wait for someone to retrieve it.
On field day, during 90-degree weather, we were told not to drink water in front of parents because it looks unprofessional. (I’m guessing passing out from heatstroke is no big deal.)
After the last day of school, teachers are forced to come back to clean the building. They literally make us scrub grates, wash outdoor furniture, and wipe down every single surface of our classrooms. No one is allowed to leave until each room is judged to be sufficiently clean by the principal.
If you leave your classroom for one minute, during your off period, you must put a post-it note on your door stating where you went and when you will be back (Even if you just went to pee or borrow something from another class.)
Our principal doesn’t allow us to drink from fast food cups during the school day because it promotes unhealthy eating. He provides cups with the school logo instead.
Grade-level team meetings must be recorded and then monitored by the superintendent.
We have to fill out a request for supplies well in advance, even if it is for one whiteboard marker. The supply room is locked and only one person has the key.
During recess duty, you cannot talk to or walk with another teacher and if you have to use the bathroom you get one minute and have to notify every adult on the playground.
I was asked to color code some data and then reprimanded for using the wrong shade of blue and red.
All communication with parents must be coordinated and preapproved by an administrator.
If you wear a dress or skirt you must wear pantyhose.
We MUST be in the hallway in between classes. If you step into your classroom for a second, even to help a student, you will be yelled at in front of everyone.
We must get pre-approval to wear the school’s t-shirt on jeans day.
If we hang up student artwork we must also post the standard that it addresses.
On teacher workdays, we must wait for an announcement to be made before we are allowed to leave.
During remote learning, we had to zoom from our empty classrooms and the assistant superintendent would drop in randomly and ask teachers how they were spending their time during the school day.
All of our phone calls to parents must begin with “good afternoon,” even if it is the morning.
My principal keeps the copy paper in the trunk of her car. If you want to make copies, you have to tell her how many you need and she will go out to her car to get paper.
During a teacher workday, we have to work together in the cafeteria so admin. can monitor all of us at the same time.
I was timed by admin. during a bathroom break and later scolded about it during a meeting.
Every month we are told what to have on our bulletin boards and we are given an outline of exactly what it should look like.
Admin. will take two workbooks from two random students in two of my classes and compare them. If they aren’t exactly the same I am questioned about it.
I come to work one hour early every single day. I left five minutes early one afternoon and the next day I was asked to fill out a leave form.
We had to sit through a meeting about how to put on and properly wear a face mask.
When I asked for construction paper for my first graders I was told to put in a formal request including what learning objectives I would be using it for and what lesson plans it would be used on.
We literally have cages over the thermostat and light switches so we cannot access them.
I had to submit lesson plans that literally outlined how every minute of my class would be used.
We have a bathroom schedule for our classes. They are five minutes long and we have to take the entire class.
Admin. had cameras in all the classrooms and hallways so she could watch us from her office. She even had it hooked up to a screen at her home so she could watch us from there.
I was written up for using paper clips instead of staples on my files.
On a remote teaching day, we have to document everything we do in fifteen-minute intervals.
Our white principal will not allow the black staff members to plan anything for Black History Month without her approval.
I was reprimanded for my blinds not being pulled up evenly.
Our principal makes us walk the hallways in pairs on “supervision duty.” We were reprimanded for walking too fast.
Admin would stand in the doorway that connected two classrooms and make sure we were teaching the exact same thing and even using the same words at the same time.
If I need one Band-aid, I have to send an email request to the nurse. Even if I have a bleeding child and no Band-Aids left in my class, I can’t just send them to the nurse. I have to send a formal request for a Band-aid.
If there is no toilet paper in the staff bathroom we have to go to the office and request more. They always ask us why we go through it so quickly.
Our principal has a pet peeve about holiday stuff being up after the holiday, even if it is only a day later. Since we had snow days on the two days before the holiday break, I had to come in over break to take down the holiday decor.
Every day before I leave I have to check in with admin. and explain how I cleaned my classroom.
Each day of the week had a certain dress code. On a Monday we had to wear a “motto shirt” made by the school. Tuesday/Thursday was a dress shirt and khakis. Wednesday required a dress with pantyhose and heels (suits for men). Friday required a spirit shirt for the current sport. If you did not purchase it, you had to follow the Wed. dress code.
Admin. sends daily “test” emails to see if we open it during class time. We also have to have our daily lesson plans for the entire quarter posted outside of our classroom. If we want to change something, we have to meet with the principal to explain why.
We have been told to PLAN not to use the restroom during the school day.
We have assigned seats at staff meetings.
Admin has a very strict chain of command and if you try to talk to the principal you will be questioned about whether or not you went through the chain first.
I used to arrive at work early and eat breakfast. I was told not to eat in view of other staff members because it looks unprofessional.
Every worksheet or handout has to be approved by the principal and must include standards and objectives.
All classrooms in the same grade level have to be arranged in the same way. My room was rearranged for me while I was on sick leave once and I wasn’t even a grade level teacher.
When they gift us with a jeans day, admin. comes around and examines our jeans to make sure they don’t have tears or holes.
Leadership Expert Opinion on Teacher Micromanaging
Following this poll of gross overreach of teacher micromanaging, I asked a leadership expert (who has lots of fancy degrees in leadership and management) to comment on the examples. Since I encouraged him to use inappropriate language, I won’t reveal his identity. This is his response:
“Good Lord, let teachers do their jobs! These are some of the quickest ways to get people to hate their job, not do their work, and amass forces against you in the process. That was easy! I mean, wow. So, in your power trip you found a way to completely freeze your underlings in place by them fearing repeatedly bothering you, while building a healthy dose of resentment every time they need to reach out to you for some bullsh*t demeaning reason that takes away from them actually being able to do their jobs. This causes them to build workarounds and thus, alliances against you – like borrowing paper from other teachers who totally get their dilemma. The geniuses responsible for these decisions require educators to do all sorts of disempowering things which prevents them from actually doing their jobs! Brilliant. What they don’t see while they are drunk on power: colleagues who are trapped in hell together quickly figure out not to go to you at all with any issues or concerns. Then the issues and concerns themselves boil over. Meanwhile, the pact they made with each other to seal your fate behind the scenes is complete.”
Stop Micromanaging Teachers!
If you are in an admin position or position of power at a school, teachers are begging you to stop micromanaging us! We know how to do our jobs and don’t need each and every aspect of our day monitored. Trust teachers. We’re doing a better job than you think. End teacher micromanaging now!
Are you dealing with an admin or supervisor who micromanages everything you do? Let us know your experiences in the comments below or use the Vent Forum to start a conversation.
Jane Morris, Author
Jane Morris is the pen name of a teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is afraid she’ll lose her job. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in writing from an even fancier (more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh.
She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.