In case you missed this fact about me, I am a teacher working in a local public high school. I have been at the same school for the last ten years. I am mostly a history teacher, but also teach a computer class and a few classes helping students assemble portfolios that are required for their high school graduation.
The reason I bring this up is because I recently have heard some grumblings and criticism aimed at teachers, basically asserting we have absolutely nothing to complain about because we hardly work! Statements like this totally get my goat. Usually, the people who make such claims about teachers as “hardly working” aren’t teachers and probably don’t know any personally, so they have no experience whatsoever with the job and life of a teacher. Yes, we have summers off, plenty of vacation time throughout the year and we get out at a relatively early hour of the day. However, what many anti-teacher folks don’t know about is the hours we put into our job outside of the scheduled school day.
On average, when I first started teaching and was planning all original lessons, I spent three to four hours a day on weekdays on school work and planning. First year and new teachers do basically design all activities for all the classes they teach (I teach five to six a day) from scratch, which is extremely time consuming, especially considering you could be prepping for three or four different classes. A typical first year history teacher, in my school anyway, teaches three or four different classes, such as American History, Geography, Sociology, and Western Civ. Planning new lessons for each day for four classes is a ton of outside of school work! And that’s not even counting all the correcting that needs to be done.
Admittedly, things get easier once you get past your first few years. Still, this year, I teach a computer class and since it was my first year teaching computers, I had to design my lessons just as a first year teacher would for that class. I also teach two other subjects that I have already taught, so most of my lessons have already been planned for those classes in past years. Now, I would say I spend one to three extra hours per day prepping for classes and correcting. I spend two to four hours total on weekends working on school work, usually on Saturday afternoons. When it’s report card time, I spend an additional few hours calculating grades on a weekend.
I arrive at work at 6:30 in the morning, spending about a half hour or so organizing for the day. School starts shortly after seven, and school ends at 1:30. I typically stay at school until 2:30 or 3 on most days doing work. So, my average day is about eight hours when you count before and after school prep time. I would say that’s about the average workday in America if you consider the standard 9 to 5. I guess that what I am saying is, in efforts to defend the teaching profession, we do work and we work just as much as most other professions! I guess I just can’t stand people who hate on teachers because teaching is not easy– working with teenagers all day in groups of 25 to 30 students at a time is no cake walk. Plus, our day doesn’t end when the bell rings, as there is always more to be done to be ready for the next day.
Any teachers out there or any of you friends with teachers? What are your thoughts on this topic?