Teachers really do need this little break... (kids do, too!) I sometimes wish that I could show people what my school day (week) is like.... Despite the fact that it LOOKS like my day starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m., that is not the case. My sister-in-law is a nurse who works 12 hour days. I have a fire fighter friend who works a shift that involves staying at the station for 24 hours; always being prepared for an emergency. Although, my days do not involve staying at school for that length of time, my day DOES involve long hours; much more than my "paid time" shows.....
My day starts at 5:30 a.m. I get up, shower, get dressed, grab breakfast, and check email. After replying to parent emails, I am off to school by 6:45 a.m. When I arrive at school, I make sure that I am organized, know my plans for the day, and have materials ready for the day ahead. An unprepared teacher is the kiss of death. Kids have a unique radar... they can tell when a teacher is "winging it" and that is not a place in which I want to be!
When the kids arrive at 7:50 a.m., I put on my game face; even if I am tired, stressed, or have the sniffles. I am the captain of the ship and my students need my strength and positive attitude. I encourage, coax reluctant learners to try, mend broken school supplies, help kids negotiate problems, while at the same time, differentiating curriculum to reach all learning styles and skills. Don't get me wrong..... I LOVE what I do! When a child reaches a goal and is proud of what he/she has accomplished, I feel their joy. When the bell rings at 2:30 p.m., I tell my students good-bye and look forward to when I will see them again.
My school day does not end at 2:30 p.m., though..... When my kiddos are gone, there is a classroom to tidy up, papers/projects to go through, faculty meetings to attend, after school tutoring, parent-teacher conferences, emails to answer...... I usually leave school around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. I KNOW that still sounds like an easy day.... but...... preparing for school does not end there. When I get home, I try to get in some kind of exercise. I think about dinner. I might throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher. I make time for my family..... and then.... I check lesson plans. Most days, I revise my plans in some way. I usually work on school plans for at least an hour... then when I am satisfied, put them away.
As with many teachers, we are sponsors or leaders for after school (or evening) activities. This year, I am helping with the junior high play. That involves evening time; back at school. I certainly am not complaining, but this is not a paid position AND I am not the director of the play; only the helper. Our director is our Art teacher and he does so much more than direct the play. He also teaches K-8 Art everyday. In his spare time, he works on script revisions, meets with the costume committee, works on the scenery..... his job goes from sunrise to sunset...
It is difficult for teachers to take off a day of work during the school week. Preparing for a sub takes more time than teaching the lesson yourself. When I leave for a 2 day conference, it takes me 4 days to prepare. I cannot imagine what it must be like to impulsively take a day off of work. And then when we DO leave, we remember in the middle of the workshop that we forgot to tell the sub where the sharpened pencils are kept or what to do when Billy says his tummy hurts.... And if we get sick and HAVE to take a day off.... we must have a tub full of a day's activities ready to go. No... taking a day off during the school year is not an easy task for us.
So... my friends, when teachers are told that they have an "easy" job, this just is not true. Teachers serve; just as firefighters, police officers, and nurses do. Having a week to step back, relax, and rejuvenate both our bodies and minds makes it possible for us to return to our students filled with the energy we need to aid them to get to the finish line filled with the tools they need to end the year strong!
To all my teacher friends.... enjoy your break! Use it to prepare for the ending stretch.... and don't feel the need to accomplish more than the time you have to do it! Sometimes having an empty "to do" list is just what the doctor ordered!
Until next time,