Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Teaching – a 24/7 Gig

on February 4, 2011
Schoolklas begin jaren '50 / Dutch classroom a...

Image by Nationaal Archief via Flickr

When I was first starting a teaching program during my sophomore year, I took a required ed class. On the first day, the professor asked us to introduce ourselves and say why we wanted to be teachers. We went around the room to the 24 or so prospective teachers and heard things like, “I had a teacher that inspired me” or “I want to help people.” I don’t really remember what I said – probably some combination of the above statements – but what I do remember was the frat boy in the back row who said simply, “I want to be a teacher for the summers off.”

There is a myth about teachers that seems to permeate our culture, and that is that teachers have it easy.  Sure, I’ll admit that the two weeks off at Christmas is nice, as are the Mid-Winter and Spring Breaks, but I truly believe if we didn’t have those breaks, there would be a much higher burn out rate than there already is.

My day starts at 7:35 officially, but I’m often at my desk just after 7am. It’s the only time of day that I can get any work done without distractions.  Students start arriving by 7:45 and any chance of getting things done is shot.  I teach five periods a day in five different subjects.  After school, I usually have a meeting. We have a weekly staff meeting, and often there are other meeting that I need to attend – IEP meetings that I am either leading or have been invited to for a potential placement, parent meetings, meeting with other teachers regarding curriculum, etc.  While my contract day ends at 3:05, it’s rare that I am gone by 4pm, and I have seen 5pm more often than I would like.

Even when I’m home, school still follows me. I work with a group of high needs students, so their problems never really let me go. I try to leave work at work, but I find myself constantly dwelling on what I can do to help a kid, how to address a difficulty a student is having, and thinking about which teachers I need to contact to make sure that the students are getting what they need. Earlier this week, I went to a training for a new IEP system that we are moving toward and I was actually excited that I would be able to access it from home! That way, when I get any idea at 1am, I can log on and write an IEP right then.

Then there’s summer.  While teacher’s look forward to June as much as any student, there is still a lot to be done.  Most teachers take some sort of class or training during the summer to keep up on our 150 certification hours that we need every five years.  Some take the opportunity to travel or pursue other interests, but by August, many teachers are thinking hard about their classroom. What worked last year? What didn’t? What do I need to change for this year?

I’m not complaining – I knew what I was getting into when I chose this field.  Teaching is a 24/7 gig and I love it.


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