My dad used to rag on his friend who taught high school history about not having to work for a living until Mr. D invited him to spend an entire day in the classroom with him. After spending the day watching Mr. D work, my dad never again said that teachers have it easy. He couldn't believe how much work Mr. D had to do teaching so many different classes and dealing with the kids with attitude without killing them. He finally understood what teachers do all day. And he only really knew about what went on at school. So much more happens to make those school day activities work. Someone has to research information, write lesson plans that demonstrate the standards, make sure the objectives are clearly understood, mark papers, make comments on writing, enter grades, make phone calls. That someone is the teacher. Every. Single. Day.
I've been retired for 2.5 years now and today's teachers have to keep track of many more assessments than I did and many more regulations. I don't envy them. Here's what a typical day was for me while I was a teacher in the city. Some days were much more packed, and rarely the days were less busy.
What do teachers do all day?
6:15 – Alarm goes off. Get ready for work
6:55 – Leave house for work, stopping to pick up a coffee and bagels
8:00 Arrive at school, sign in, field a phone call from a parent, run off annotated notes for Social Studies lesson. Make sure reading books can be picked up by students later, use the toilet.
8:30 Go out to the yard, say the Pledge of Allegiance and the school pledge with the entire school. Field questions from 2 parents, referee in disagreement between 2 students over something that happened yesterday after school.
8:40 Walk class into building send arguing students to counselor, collect homework, allow kids to sharpen pencils, get paper, etc.
8:45 Morning Meeting – learn about the Museum of Fine Arts that we will visit on a field trip the end of the week, introduce a new reading routine and practice it, call on 2 students to tell a joke or riddle. Return to seats for reading.
9:00 – Send one student to Special Ed teacher, review new routine again, write reading menu on the board, answer questions, Read the whole-group reading story, assign activities to be completed by the end of reading groups. Set the clock for 20 minutes and take first reading group. Work on word sorts and suffixes, read. Time is up. Repeat with three more reading groups (different activities and books) with reminders about changed routine. At some point, arguing students come back from counselor and need to be caught up on changes in between reading groups.
11:00 – Make sure 2 students go to Special Ed teacher for their reading instruction. Work on writing with mini-lesson on using strong verbs and synonyms. Demonstrate on board how many ways there are to say “said.” Conference with two students about their writing while the rest of the group is writing in their writer’s notebooks or working on a draft.
11:45 – Begin math lesson by introducing a game, play one round with class
12:00 – Grab coats and go to lunchroom. Wait for three students to get their school lunch, so they can come back to eat with me and practice guitar for our next show. Talk to counselor about what happened with formerly arguing students. Counselor gives me paperwork to fill out for one of the students. Use the bathroom, eat lunch, put out manipulatives and activities for math. Listen to kids play guitar.
12:45 – Pick class up from recess, send 2 kids to Special Ed teacher, go to class and continue math lesson with manipulatives, play math games again and break into small groups for instruction/enrichment. Work on long term project when finished assignments.
1:30 – Take class to computer lab for instruction. Go back to room and fill out paperwork for student, write homework on board, put manipulatives away, get out science materials
2:15 – Pick up kids from computer, give them 5 minutes to copy homework, intro science briefly and do as much of the experiment as we can. Rotate around room to make sure procedures are being followed. We will have to finish tomorrow.
2:55 – Bus kids are called down to the bus. The rest of the class gets coats and bookbags, pack up and tell one good thing that happened to them today. We sing “Ordinary Day” by Great Big Sea
3:10 – Dismissal – walk class down to the schoolyard and out to the street. Talk to 2 parents who are waiting in the yard. Help a teacher with a kid who is going nuts. Return to building.
3:30 - Erase today’s standards and objectives, write tomorrow’s standards and objectives. Grade papers handed in from reading and math, make phone calls for kids without homework or permission slips, and kids with problem behavior. Gather five sets of materials for Social studies which I will teach during reading tomorrow, as reading. Make a list of groups for Social Studies/Reading groups, making sure kids are with students they can work with. Troubleshoot what went wrong in the science experiment and plan for a redo. Call bus company to make sure we have a bus, Talk with colleague about a former student and ways to get him to work. Talk to Special Ed teacher about what activities I can do with the Special Ed students in reading and math when she is out.
5:30 – Gather up drafts of writing to mark at home.
6:30 – Make and eat dinner,
7:30 - Collect and answer email. Enter test results from yesterday’s math test into online grade book, Flag kids who don’t do well, change math groups according to the results. Go on internet to collect photos or Social Studies. Load Google Earth onto laptop to bring to school tomorrow for Social Studies/Reading. Read and give suggestions for the writing drafts. Read the first two chapters of the 5 different reading books.
10:30 – Put away anything not completed yet. Browse the web for fun
11:00 – Go to bed
6:15 – Wake up and start all over again