The first thing that I want to say is that to be a teacher in 2017, you need to be a little bit of everything. It's not enough to have just a degree in education, you need to have a piece of paper that says you're certified to teach this subject for this grade(s), and more often times than not you need to have another piece of paper that says the same thing but is permanent. It's not enough to have done student teaching; you need more experience. Not only that but you need to be conscious and sensitive to just about every issue a student could go through: Poverty, racial / sexual / gender discrimination, behavioral issues, child abuse, learning / other disabilities, stress, mental illness... Just from personal experience, when I was student teaching, I would leave worried that some of my students only had one small meal for the day during lunch, and that was all they would get to eat. I'd also be worried that they were overworked and had way too much on their plate, and that's why they'd lash out on occasion. You've gone to different psych classes, seminars, sensitivity training, field experiences... You've got to know your students and be their leader, but you can't get too close to them. You have to know your material like the back on your hand, which is completely rational, but how dare you might need to go back and look up information. You've got to create all of your materials from scratch (or at least I had to to avoid failing), and let me tell you, I've lost some good sleep so I could create good presentations... not to mention you've got to do these things for each and every class you have. There are also observation reports that your principal does to all the teachers to make sure goals are being met; oh, and your job lies in the hands of your students during those standardized tests so don't mess up! Speaking of testing, you have to make assessments to evaluate learning, so you can't just give students a paper test and expect them to have learned something; you need projects, creativity, or something in general that lets them spew what you taught them back at you.
To be a teacher is to have the expectation of perfection thrust upon you; it's a lot of pressure.
But no teacher goes through all of this stress without love and passion; we are teachers because we love the interaction with the students and seeing them grow and develop before our very eyes. It's very satisfying to see the light bulb go off in their minds or to see their eyes widen with curiosity because of the information you gave them; the students are and will always be the best part of the job. This is why it is heartbreaking to see the news and see people who have no idea what they're doing try to create laws that impact our students. Let me tell you something they tell us in teacher school: Standardized testing is bogus; it doesn't actually accomplish what we want to accomplish, meaning intelligence and learning are not being evaluated. It is a flawed system and there are way too many x-factors that can invalidate the test (you ever heard of being a poor test taker? It is a real thing), but because they produce 'results,' that's all that matters. Students are a heaping ball of stress and they are developing anxiety and depression at an alarming rate because all they hear is 'this test determines your future.' No child nor adolescent should have to worry about their future at their ages, plus they shouldn't have to worry about their teachers' jobs being in their hands.
What I just saw in the news is how a school decided to cut down their elementary students' recess time from twenty minutes to ten minutes for 'scheduling purposes,' and that is absolutely shameful. An adult working full time, eight hours a day, is owed a half-hour break; elementary students are so young and full of energy that they (presumably) need more than 30 minutes. Have you ever been around eight year olds? They are antsy, love to play, and have short attention spans; you mean to tell me that in a six to eight hour day, they can only get ten minutes outside to unleash some steam? Basic child psychology tells you how dumb of an idea this is, and I'm not even an elementary school teacher. Kids need to play in order to develop their brains as well; it is beneficial to their imaginations. You can't just force STEM education onto a student; you need to give them a well-rounded education which includes the arts, languages, and humanities.
I get frustrated reading these articles or talking to these students who fall asleep in class because they were doing homework and projects until one in the morning. Truth be told, they are vulnerable at this point in their lives, but people who have no idea what they're doing keep adding to their pile. You expect us as teachers to be perfect in every aspect, so why can't I, as a teacher, expect you, those in charge of education in America, be at the very least competent? We are destroying our students in order to mold people what we see as acceptable. Should students have a basic education? Absolutely. But not at the cost of their sanity and developmental skills.
You want students to be well-natured, intelligent adults one day? Let them play, let them imagine, let them see a future for themselves. Everyone wants their child on a one-way path to college but that doesn't automatically mean they are securing a job in a field anymore. We have to let our students be people before we lose them.