The Job of Teaching

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Last week a student asked me, “Is teaching hard?”

My answer? Sometimes.

“What do you do?” she inquired.

I really didn’t have the time in class to explain it all (although I did invite the student to come check out my lesson plans and To Do list sometime), but  it made me think: I am not sure many people know what teachers “do” every day.

On paper (aka my lesson plan book) this is what my day looks like:

7:00am:      Arrive to room and make sure everything is ready to go
7:25am:       Bell rings for students to head to first hour. I assume my spot outside my door to great students as they arrive
7:30am:       First hour Spanish 2 class (Bell activity, instruction, guided practice, individual practice, closing activity as the bell rings
dismissing students), follow students out the door to stand out and welcome the next hour.
8:40am:      Second hour English 11 class (see class routine above)
9:45am:       Third Hour Spanish 2
10:45am:     Fourth Hour Planning: straighten up the classroom while another teacher uses my room to teach. Head to work room to make copies
for the next day, check my mailbox, grade papers, lesson plan
11:50am:     Gather all my things and travel to the Junior High School
12:00pm:    Arrive at Junior High, set up for Fifth Hour, head to lunch
12:35pm:     Assume spot outside this classroom door to welcome Fifth Hour students
12:40pm:    Fifth Hour Spanish 2 (same routine as high school classes)
1:45pm:       Sixth Hour Spanish 2
2:45pm:      Follow students out door to watch the halls clear
2:5opm:     Either head to high school for “office hours” or stay at Junior High for “office hours”/ hopefully get some grading/planning done.
4:00pm:    Leave to pick up my sons from daycare


Pretty straight forward, right?

Here is how today actually went:

7:00am:       Arrive at school to get ready
7:05am:       Principal drops in to remind me my SMART goals are due. Today. And that the goals I thought I entered were in the wrong part of the program so I had to redo it all by the end of today.
7:15am:       Students who were absent Friday come in to ask about missed work. Students who were here ask if they can turn in what is due later because they “forgot” they had homework.  Lecture about being responsible.  Do not accept late homework.
7:25am:       Write the bell activity on the board that you started writing 25 minutes ago.
7:30am:      Coax students to get going on the bell activity while dealing with 3 different students who have various questions about their grade, missing work, missed class, tardies, bathroom pass requests…
7:45am:     Do attendance 10 minutes late
7:50am:      Remind students of tomorrow’s quiz and wait while they finish gasping that “YOU NEVER TOLD US” as I stand next to the “Homework Reminder” board that says “Quiz Tuesday, 10/2”
7:55am:        Give notes that take 10 minutes longer than they need to because of slow writers, complainers, and a few legit questions.
8:15am:       Do some practice together.  Ask if there are any questions.  There are none.
8:25am:      Hand out a very short individual review of today’s lesson.  Have four hands go up with the questions, “I don’t get it; what do we do?” Inquire about whether the directions were read.  Learn that they were not.  Tell students to read the directions. Come back to same people who still “don’t get it”.
8:30am:     Announcements get read over the PA, I check my school email and see that I have 4 parent emails, 2 administrative emails, 1 email about a fundraiser, 2 emails about the fact that it is Spirit/Homecoming week, 3 shared google docs about various things, and 2 emails about curriculum.  All need responses ASAP.
8:35am:       Bell rings, students make a mad dash out, Second hour students come in with a barrage of questions/issues.

Ok, you know what? I am not going to keep going.

This is how each hour goes.

And yet nothing gets ignored.

Papers are graded (eventually), plans get written out, copies get made (even after the copy machine jams 43979797234234 times), emails get responses, goals get submitted (even it if was at 3:30pm, by the way), my lunch gets given away to a student who needs help who can’t meet after school, and I leave by 4:oopm (ish) each day since I have to pick up my boys.

And of course where the job of the teacher ends, the job of mother begins.

It’s sheer madness.

It’s an insane job choice (or so I am told).

But I love it.

I know other jobs are demanding. I know everyone gets weary of the responsibility and the crazy of their work. I know I am not unique in that.

What I do know is what…er WHO…I am working with is the most precious thing the adults of this country have: their children.

That is a BIG responsibility. Failing as a teacher means failing the next generation of leaders and thinkers and inventors and parents and teachers.

And every single time someone says (in jest or for serious) that my job is so simple, something in me crumbles.

Every time someone calls teachers greedy, my heart sinks and I wonder why this job chose me (because I don’t recall choosing it).

And then I show up to work.

And my students dazzle me more frequently than they make me do this:  O_O <blank stare>

And I remember that I have the best job ever.  Even if many MANY knuckleheads in politics find my job worthless.


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