Today, I would like to give you a snapshot of what my life looks like as a teacher and take you through a typical week.
First, I must back you up to last Friday, because in order to be prepared for this week, I had to pre-prepare last week. Last Friday, we had a professional development day. I arrived at school at 7:20 and, during this day, I met with other teachers who teach the same subjects as I do, I met with my administrator to talk about my evaluation, I met with my team teacher to solidify our curriculum for the remainder of the semester, responded to parent e-mails, wrote a letter of recommendation, and attempted to make copies (I say attempted, because the copy machine was broken, as it always is). When the professional development day was over, I went straight to practice from 3-5 and from there, the football game. Last Friday, I left home at 6:50 am and finally arrived home at 11:30 pm. These are typical hours for me as well. I keep a stash of Life cereal in my desk drawer, because I am often running from activity to activity and do not always pack enough food to satiate me throughout the day. My Saturday consisted of (a) going to yoga 8:00-9:15, running home to shower, meeting my team at 11:00, and going to a competition that lasted until 7:30 pm. On Sunday, I watched the video from our competition to strategize and make correction notes for each of the ten girls on my team, planned my lessons for the week, graded rhetorical essays, and responded to parent e-mails.
Yes, those parents are demanding. This week, I have been text bullied, voice mail bullied, and e-mail bullied by two parents. One parent is upset about their student’s failing grade and another parent feels I have “targeted their child”. I have been called malicious, immature, ignorant. I bully kids, play favorites, have no idea how to coach/teach, and should plan all communication with their son/daughter to be taken place with my administrator, athletic director, a counselor, and the family lawyer. And yet, despite all of these attacks to my character, I have to walk into my classroom and my team practice and pretend like nothing is going on.
Oh, I should also probably add that I make $2,000 a month. Well, actually this year, I make $2,061 a month. And, sometimes I make $2,060.59, because payroll has an error.
Yes, I do get so much time off. I get a week for fall break, two days for Thanksgiving, two weeks for holiday break (not Christmas break), a week for spring break, and June-July off in the summer. Last summer, I spent the month of June preparing my team for poms camp, which included picking music and choreographing their dance, running practice, designing/paying/picking up camp clothes and other team material. My time in July and August was devoted to planning a golf tournament fundraiser, so that my team could have the privilege of having nice thing, team bonding activities, and food throughout the poms season. When I wasn’t doing poms stuff, I spent my time going to the used book store to pick up ACT practice books, finding new short stories, and reading novels on the required reading list for the second or third time before I taught it. I also did a week long training and spent three days in professional development classes in order to re-new my teacher’s license. Even when I took a trip to Europe last summer, I made sure we visited Verona, Italy, so I could experience Juliet’s house and take pictures to show my English classes.
Ok, so I got a little side tracked. Back to this week:
Monday: Arrive at 7 am (because the copy machines were broken on Friday so I needed to make sure I had ample time, in case the machines jammed again, there was the usual long line, my message didn’t send to the printer, etc.) Teach. Go to practice. Go to yoga. Run the errands (go to the bank, drop off library books, etc). Clean the yoga studio (two hours of time = free yoga, which I desperately need). Return home at 10:30 pm.
…did I also mention that I go to the bathroom twice a day: once when I wake up in the morning and the next time is usually after practice at 5:30)…and, that, although we get a 30 minutes lunch, half the time, I spend the first five minutes consoling a student, signing grade reports, talking about behaviors, etc.
Actually, now that I think about it, every day usually has a similar schedule. On Thursdays, my team practices 6:45 am-7:45 am, I teach a full day, go to new teacher induction 3-4:30, and then teach at a dance studio from 5-7 to help supplement my income.
One of the problems with education today is that, since everyone went to high school, everyone thinks they are an expert in the field of education. I thought this as well. I wanted to become a teacher because I loved writing and I loved socializing in the hallways. What I found out was that teaching is a far more complex art than it looks. Teachers have the magical ability to balance many things as once and make it look easy because we do not want our kids to see us suffering.
While I do not want to complain about my job–because I truly love it and could not imagine myself doing anything different and I enjoy most of these tasks (except the copy room), it requires more patience, filtering, and management than I ever imagined. So, before you make assumptions about teachers–how we are entitled, have an easy job, get so much time off, etc. etc.–I would like to invite you into my classroom to experience a snapshot of my day.