Throughout my journey as a Teacher Candidate, I have learned many valuable lessons but perhaps one of the most striking is how MUCH teachers actually do! I am consistently in awe of how much there is to actually DO!
"Teachers have it easy. Their hours are 9am-3pm and they get lots of holidays (Christmas & March Break), plus they get summers off." How many times have you heard (or even said) the above statement? Well, let me tell you, it does not do justice to the amount of work teachers do! Let me illustrate with my schedule from the past few days.
Last Friday, I gave 2 of my classes a quiz, 1 class a test and I collected their labs from the week. Not a bad day in class - pretty low key and great for a Friday of a busy week. As I packed my things to take home, it struck me - now I have to MARK all these items!!! 53 quizzes, 60 labs + 17 tests - WOW! This was going to take a nice chunk out of my weekend!
On top of this mountain of marking, I needed to plan my lessons in 3 different classes this week. Because I like to prepare in advance, I try to prep the entire week's lessons on the weekend. What does this entail? Researching creative methods & strategies of instruction (not just lecturing!), creating PowerPoint presentations, creating student worksheets and uploading and organizing all info on my website & Live Binder. On top of all this, since I have never taught 2 out of my 3 classes before, I needed to research & learn new material, what the curriculum expectations are and ways to make the classes "fun". Weekend? WHAT weekend?? I must confess that I did get sidetracked with family obligations and didn't get around to any of the marking this weekend. I did, however, plan all my lessons for this week.
Monday morning - I'm feeling great that I have a fun plan for this week's lessons. Yes, I do have a 75 min prep period + lunch hour, however these fly by with conferencing with other teachers who teach the same courses that I do (our material must match), setting up labs, printing and photocopying worksheets and providing students with extra help. I usually manage to inhale a quick lunch 10 minutes before my period 3 class. Monday evening - oh yeah, I need to complete that marking! Sigh...I tackle some of it, but only put a dent in the pile.
Tuesday's school day is much like Monday, except we have a unit test in one class and a lab in another...more marking!! On top of this, my plans for an activity for one of my lessons on Wed need to be changed due to weird circumstances so now I need to re-plan a lesson as well (this involved some creative problem-solving and a last minute tip to the dollar store!) I was determined to finish my marking and I did it the majority of it last night + planned my lesson - mission accomplished!! How many hours did I sleep? Just under 4 hours.
I finished the rest of my marking this evening, logged in student marks, made notes about who needs extra help and who is struggling and prepped tomorrow's labs. It is 8:30pm and I am still at school!
This is just a snapshot of what a teacher's schedule looks like. Granted, I am a new teacher and I do not have the benefit of having taught this material before. This part (lesson planning) will get easier as I teach more - I hope! The marking will never go away and it keeps coming...I think of it as ocean waves that continually crash onto the beach in a specific rhythm. Just as one wave pulls away, another comes in - that is what marking is like. I have not yet mentioned the struggles of classroom management and the challenge of incorporating innovative, student-centred teaching strategies in each lesson as well as the need to meet the needs of all the different learners in my classroom. As well, teachers get involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities to contribute to the school community - we'll save that for another blog post!
So the next time you hear someone talking about how easy a job teaching is, think of me still sitting here at school on this fine Wednesday evening. And why do I do it? Why do any teachers do this? Its a passion for learning and connecting with students to make a positive impact on their lives. Some people skydive or go bungee jumping for thrills - I stand in front of a class, teaching chemistry/biology/science, and get the thrill of imparting knowledge, engaging students and helping them learn. It truly is a thrill!