Wednesday, April 25, 2012

School Days

Debbie asked me how teaching impacts my life at home.

Well, it's the reason my little girl and I have to get up at 5 am every morning. That definitely impacts an important part of our life - sleep!

Other than that, I am no longer in the habit of bringing work home with me. I managed to figure out how to do that several years ago because I did not really have the energy and focus after a full day in the classroom to keep working into the evening. Once I was married to Michael, there was just no way I was going to sacrifice my time with him to correct papers, either. Very rarely, I will bring something home. I don't think I've brought anything home with me this year, though.

While I'm at work, I try to use every minute I can find to get things done. If my students are working on anything independently, I use that time to correct papers or fill in my planbook. I would rather work through recess breaks (the few I have without duty) and part of my lunch break than bring anything home. And, realistically, I'm not sure what I could get done at home in the hours after work that Michaela is awake. She requires my attention, and I want to give it to her. Once she goes to bed between 7:00 and 7:30 pm, I'm fading fast. Not a good time to be correcting or planning.

This school year, for the very first time, I have enlisted the help of several reliable moms to staple the kids' English Language-Arts packets together, and to correct our spelling, grammar, and vocabulary tests. Those tests are just multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank - so they are super easy to correct. I do not have the moms put percentages or grades on the tests. I do that after they are done marking the errors. I also have the kids help as much as possible. There are a lot of clerical things in the classroom that I enlist their help with. Things like filing, passing out papers on Friday afternoon so we have them on their desks for Monday morning, etc. There's a small group of nice kids who are on campus after school at the daycare center, and they just check themselves out for a while and come over to help out.

As for editing students' writing, that just takes a really long time. Sometimes I am able to get through a stack of poems or essays during release time, but I prefer to have writing conferences with the students individually during a writing block. Sometimes we get backed up a bit, meaning that there are more students ready to see me during a writing session than I have time to get to, but I think it's more valuable to actually meet with them and model the editing process, and have a discussion about what works and what doesn't work in their writing. I am also in the habit of reading their pieces aloud while we do this together, and lately the other students have been offering up excellent ideas for better word choices. It's a fun, collaborative time. But, yeah, writing is probably the most difficult thing to teach and to grade. Very labor intensive for the students and the teacher.

As for my hours, our contract states that we are required to be on campus from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. Mondays through Wednesdays I stay until 3:30 just to wrap things up and get ready for the next day. Then I have to get home by 4:00 to relieve Tia Lisa (our nanny and housekeeper) and Michael's mom. Thursdays and Fridays I usually work later into the afternoon because Michaela is at my parents' house not too far from school. We usually have dinner with them before heading home.

I am not your typical teacher in this way. Most teachers bring a lot of work home. All I can say is that everyone has a different work style, but we all work very hard to deliver an excellent education to our students.


  1. I'm glad you worked it out so you get to focus on Michaela when you are home at night! I have to say that I never brought much work home either. ;) I always, always had mom helpers in the classroom to do the correcting! Except for writing and exams.

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