A Day in the Life of a School Teacher
For many people, being a teacher has plenty of perks – long holiday periods and getting to stop work early in the afternoon when school closes. But teaching is the kind of career that requires plenty of passion and determination to ride out stressful, boring or frankly low paying periods.
5:30: The Day Starts
Teachers need to wake up early to begin classes at 7:30 or 8:00, depending on the school. This means morning traffic and usually a cup of coffee or three to get going. Teachers, no matter what subject they teach or whether they have positions at public or private schools, need to be sociable. Many spend the mornings before class finishing up lesson plans done the night before, photocopying materials for classes 20 to 100 children in size, and chatting to other teachers about students, after school activities and the latest gossip.
8:00 – 13:00 Classes
Teaching positions can vary greatly. Classes can range in length from 45 to 90 minutes long, and in some schools teachers have the help of a teaching aid. For younger students, a teacher needs plenty of energy to get through hours on her feet talking, gesticulating, managing the students and keeping focus and discipline in the classroom – not an easy task if the school lacks resources or if the teacher is not naturally authoritative.
For older grades, the teacher needs to balance several tensions: getting through the syllabus, making sure each child is getting enough attention, maintaining order and discipline (particularly difficult with teenagers) and making sure lessons are educational as well as interesting enough to hold attention.
Teachers usually use lunch breaks to mark exams or tests, do filing or paperwork, write reports on students, manage the curriculum and socialize with other teachers a little before heading back for more afternoon classes. Some teachers may be required to supervise play time during breaks once in a while.
13:00 – 15:00 Afternoon Classes and Meetings
A teacher can get pretty tired by the end of classes each day, even if she finishes well before people in other jobs. Because a teacher needs to be an integral part of the entire school culture, she needs to be available to attend meetings, help organize things like sports days, outings and cake sales, be able to discuss difficult students in meetings with parents, chat to students outside of class hours, create and implement new ideas and activities and sometimes, unfortunately, work with small budgets and tight schedules.
15:00 Home and After Hours
Luckily, teachers miss afternoon traffic and have the freedom to do other things in the afternoon, although they often have to write and mark test papers and prepare a full lesson plan for the next day, which takes a few hours. At the end of year, teachers may be very busy putting together reports for children and organizing Christmas or graduation events.
No matter the teacher’s subject, she needs to be computer literate, well-spoken, enthusiastic, sociable and truly love working with children. A teacher has to have considerable energy and creativity. Teacher salaries are notoriously low, so a teacher needs to be motivated by more than money – i.e., a passion to be a part of a young child’s development.