Monday, November 09, 2009

Long Day Today

It was such a long day today, I may not get to make up for it until Wednesday, a holiday.

My prep period is 4th period; I spent that entire period in a meeting, and that meeting went a few minutes into lunch.

I usually stay after school on Mondays, either to plan out my lessons for the week (and put assignments online) or to supervise our after-school tutoring program; today was thankfully the former. Still, in addition to working on my lessons I helped a student who didn't understand some recent material, and then worked with my student teacher to explain the most effective way to teach tomorrow's lesson.

I got to school at 7:30 and left at 4:30.

Oh, woe is me, and I'm sure some of you, especially you non-teachers, would be happy to point out the long (uncompensated) hours you put in at work. I know, I've been there. This isn't about the hours, though. It's about the non-stop hours. You see, I can't take a coffee break. I can't take a personal phone call. I can't extend my lunch by 10 or 15 minutes. I can't sit back and relax for 5 or 10 minutes, or go chit-chat with someone. Teaching is about as close an occupation as there is to acting, and as a teacher you're always on stage.

So yes, it was a long day today.


Anonymous said...

Your point is well understood. So many of those in education have no idea how non-stop our days are (read: Arne Duncan). Even my own wife, who is a stay at home mom, had a hard time understanding how non-stop my day was. The turning point for her was when I relayed the story of having to deal with vomiting students.

Let me contrast two experiences.: My brief foray into corporate America included hour long off site lunches, a clean and spacious private restroom, a quiet office where I could play music, chatting with clients and coworkers, lunch meetings at nice restaurants, and bbq's at my bosses expense, a secretary to make copies and field calls and protect you from annoying interruptions.. At times the boss never came into the office all dat, and so us employees experienced a little less pressure. The attitude of the office was positive and encouraging, goal focused, and centered on progress.

Working at school means arriving by 7:00 am or earlier (today was 6:40ish) and then it is just all out from there. I eat breakfast and drink coffee in my class while grading or organizing, etc. I walk up to the front office, check emails, maybe visit briefly with other harried teachers. Then I make copies for the day (I have first period prep). I might be interrupted before my first class by a couple of students who have questions or want to visit. I check emails all day. Lessons have to be highly engaging, which means more prep (I know that many think we just lecture from the same notes we've had for the last five years . . . not so). Then the students show up whether you want them to or not and they are waiting for you to show or tell them what to do. Attendance, then bathroom requests or missing work turned in, and then constant discipline. Interruptions from the office right in the middle of a lesson. Bathroom breaks involve negotiating a hallway filled with teenagers (many bigger than myself). Lunch is eaten at my desk. Sometimes I eat the cafeteria food or stop by the student store (sodas, candy, coffee is not available). Teach for two hours, have a 30 minute lunch (which is sometimes interrupted), then teach straight for another three hours and then I stay from 3:30-5:00 or 5:30 grading papers, preparing, or sending emails home. Students sometimes interrupt after school. Consider one thing - everything you do is done in front of kids.

I often do some work at home, and Sunday night. This Wednesday, a portion of my holiday will be spent reading papers.

Now do you understand why teachers like summers off?


Elaine C. said...

Hah... I have you beat (on a regular basis.) I'm in at 7am to do photocopies (least crowded time on the risios), set up my whiteboards, and general morning-prep stuff.

I have students coming in for tutoring at 7:30, school starts at 8:10. I then teach until lunch... when I have a 'working lunch'. (AKA, teaching a handful of students how to handle fractions - at the HS level!, monitoring HW completion for the slackers who didn't do it the night before, and individual help for whoever drops in. Oh, and grabbing a few mouthfuls when I get the chance.)

Then I'm teaching until 3:10 (We have a block schedule, so I have a prep every other day or so. That gets eaten up by meetings/lesson planning/grading.)

At 3:15, I run my after-school tutorials until 4:15, then work until 5 doing clean-up, modifying the next day's lessons, and whatever catch-up grading I can.

(I am careful to allow time for bathroom breaks. Pregnancy is very insistent about that, I'm finding! However, this is my ONLY break time throughout the day.)

.. of course, if this is a competition, I'm not sure if I'm winning or losing by beating you ;) And, of course, I only live 15 minutes from home by bicycle, so my commute time is probably smaller...

Law and Order Teacher said...

I had another job. Your description of teaching as acting is right on. The problem is that we can't leave the room to go the bathroom, let alone take a quick rest. Thirty students can get rowdy, not to mention its a liability problem. How about conference nights? Staying on the stage an additional 4 or 5 hours is a little taxing. Overall, though, I love my job. Best one I've ever had.

Anonymous said...

Well, all teachers work hard. I just wanted to comment about Wed. as a holiday. Well, here in our great state, we don't get school off on Veterans day. We do have a state law on the books that require an assembly or school wide activity that commemorates the day, but we are at work (non stop) all day long. The only Fed. Holiday we get off is MLK Day in Jan. We have teacher inservice on President's Day.

Coach Brown said...

Bah, it's basketball season!

I was at school at 6:30 a.m. and got home at 8:30 p.m.

And the term "prep" is a joke. My "prep" usually involves meetings or helping students. The actual time I get to prep in my classroom every day (officially) is about 10 minutes.

Darren said...

Do you get paid extra for coaching basketball?