In most professions, a planner is utilized and organized based on the needs of its user. Highlighters block off hours to indicate an average level of busyness and remind one of the time needed for meetings and collaboration. However, Gawker recently asked teachers to be brutally honest about what their days look like. If the stories from these educators are true, they would need much more than a neat planner to actually chart where their time goes. They might even need an extra hour few hours packed on top of the standard 24 to fulfill all that is required of them.
Some of the teacher’s anecdotes are littered with comedy, acknowledging that like any other profession, some things just have to be laughed off. Unfortunately, a number of the tales traverse into troubling territory, as instructors paint a vivid picture of a broken educational system. As educational administrations continue to push for standardization on shoe-string budgets, the onus is placed on teachers to carry the weight of their student’s world on their shoulders. The stressful job requires much more than the 7-8 hours afforded to a teacher to spend with their students each day.
As some teachers noted, requests and requirements from the administration pull on their time almost as equally, if not more, than time needed to work with students. The responsibilities of teachers, in addition to their primary role of teaching, includes many other requirements like early arrival before school starts and late dismissal to monitor students, multiple mandatory staff meetings, covering for other teachers in their planning period (if they have a planning period), coaching sports, sponsoring after-school clubs and activities, and providing tutoring outside of instruction time. None of this includes time spent at home grading papers and calling parents.
Many of the teachers had similar concerns about not being allowed adequate restroom breaks throughout the day, some even being written up for “violating protocol” by going to the restroom during passing period.
“Every minute in a teacher’s day is preciously used and planned out, even down to when [they] can afford a bathroom break.”
Some of the teachers provided an outline of what their daily schedule looks like, chronicling nearly every minute that comprises their exhaustive days. One of the most humorous examples featured includes a day that starts at 7am and ends at a 9:30pm bedtime, “because teaching turns you into an old person.” More concerning of the stories featured detailed the struggles of teaching special needs students whose different abilities and needs range widely from caring for intellectually disabled students to stuffing students from 3 different grade levels into one room to trying to teach students three grade levels behind how to read.
Previous interviews with local teachers like Beth Barnes and Rachel Alexander note the taxing requirements of the job. Alexander recalled leaving the school some nights as late as 10pm, hoping to catch up and stay ahead of the next request, only to arrive back on campus again the next day at 7am to do it all over again.
Despite the problems plaguing the educational system and all of the time required to do the job of educating justice, many teachers are incredibly well qualified and love their job. One of the commenters succinctly summed up their feelings about their chosen profession, stating:
“I love teaching. I love working with students, planning with colleagues and being a part of a community focused on providing kids with a safe space to learn and grow. I love learning new things myself, and lord knows teaching is a profession where you never stop doing that. The critiques I have come from a place of love, and a desire to make my profession a sustainable one.”
By understanding the perspectives and needs of those we entrust to teach and shape our children, we can better facilitate a dialogue that might benefit how we approach and appreciate teachers who do so much in exchange for so little respect.
Op-Ed Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in Thesis Magazine opinion pieces are those of the author and should not be seen to represent the publication as a whole.