An urban legend once went round that teachers have a bit of a cushy number – working days of 9 til 3, oodles of work-free holidays and plenty of perks.
But while most teachers would laugh hysterically in your face in between pulling out clumps of their own hair, even they don’t realise quite how much they do in a day. Teachers may have opted for education as a career, but little did they know that they would be taking on half of the roles available at Job Centre Plus too. Here are just 20 of the extra jobs expected of every teacher which they never get credit for.
When you deal with human beings through your working day, especially ones going through that horrendous experience of growing up, it’s inevitable that you will encounter more problems than if you were watching an ITV 2 marathon of the Jeremy Kyle Show. While a teacher needs to be official, a little strict and a role model in the classroom, there are also times they need to be a confidante and a friend to a child who may not have anyone else to talk to. Swapping between the two roles is a sensitive, difficult but necessary process that every person working in a school will find themselves having to do.
- ICT Technician
Gone are the days of blackboards and jotters – everything in a classroom appears to require a degree in ICT to operate. Whether you’re running a slideshow on your Interactive Whiteboard, playing a podcast via a laptop or trying to monitor the internet usage of thirty hormonal thirteen year olds whilst also delivering a lesson in the ICT suite, it’s not easy. I mean, you could telephone the technician department in the basement but ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’ isn’t helpful when you have a restless class.
No lesson can end without some degree of mess. Art and technology teachers, we salute you. The clear up after a Maths lesson is bad enough.
- A gym coach
Because everyone has to play their part during sports day. Even if you’ve never so much as balanced an egg on a spoon yourself, no teacher can avoid the dreaded bane of helping the PE department out.
- An artist
It’s hard to make a wall display of interior angles in 2D shapes thrilling, but arm yourself with a sh*tload of sugar paper, your trusty staple gun and a nice crinkly border and you can make a masterpiece. That will be fraying and ripped down within a week.
- A hygienist
Children can be dirty creatures, bless their little (grubby) souls. If you forget to warn them to wash their hands before a cookery lesson, please do not consider doing a taste test. And, since Jamie Oliver interfered offered his help, inspections of packed lunch boxes and suggestions to parents on how to make them healthier is now a recognised process.
- A cashier
Uh-oh. School trip time. Which kid has paid? Who needs change? Who paid over a month ago at parents’ evening? Why is the kitty short even though everyone claims they’ve coughed up? YOU WERE NOT TRAINED FOR THIS.
- A public speaker
It’s my turn to do an assembly? I think I feel a cold coming on…
- A child minder
Children miss buses and parents can be late – that’s when you become a free sitter for several hours. It’s fine, you don’t have a pile of marking to get through and you prefer your dinner stone cold anyway.
No matter what age or subject you teach, paperwork is now a huge part of your teaching life. You could really do with a PA to manage all of the forms, lesson plans, reports, seating plans, individual learning plans, meeting minutes, training logs, CPD materials and editions of War And Peace. Only headteachers get those though. As well as more money.
- A law enforcer
You try your best to start the year by forming some class rules that you all agree on. Within a week, you just know you will be the only one referring to the class charter and until prom day, you are going to have to play the villain. As much as students might think otherwise, no teacher likes being mean.
- A firefighter
We’re not talking literally here, unless you’re unfortunate enough to have a naughty science class who need to rely on bunsen burners for their coursework. Situations have a habit of snowballing in classrooms – particularly when you announce the next topic is Shakespeare – so sometimes you can find that there’s a situation of you against 30. Not easy.
- A PR
Ah, parent’s evenings and open evenings – when the outside world comes in and you have to talk about the school as if it were the love of your life. You paint on your cheesiest smile and adopt your bounciest jolly walk and hope the evening will get by quickly. No one must know that you’re a bit peed off you were only told about this night two days ago.
- A careers advisor
It’s not always easy for you to figure out what direction your little darlings are going in. But on off-timetable careers days, that becomes your role too. No pressure.
- A diplomat
When you want to write: ‘Child A swears all the time, does no work and is rude to everyone’ you end up writing: ‘While Child A can be creative with their language, I can tell their desire to learn is there and they are fantastic at helping to create a challenging environment for the class.’ You should be a politician.
- A writer
In your time as a teacher, you will have written enough in your lesson plans, resources, marking, reports et al to have created at least one novel. Maybe you should have done that instead? It’s a good job you really like the job and are getting used to the loud clicking in your writer’s cramp ridden wrist.
- A nurse
A day of first aid training and you now have the responsibility of caring for all manner of ailments. You never considered that your queasiness over blood and vomit would be an issue in the classroom. But kids fall over and spread germs A LOT. There is no escape.
- A bouncer
Oh good, lunch duty. You are the one that has to turn a hungry, baying mob into an orderly queue. Good luck with that one.
- An actor
Spoiler for any non teachers: but the chances that we like everything we teach is next to nil. Still, we can’t let the class know that we secretly agree they will never really use Pythagoras’ Theorem and we certainly can’t join in the collective groans when you open Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Time for the performance of your lives…
- A life coach
When you teach, you are delivering more than just an academic lesson. You are teaching children how to behave, how to open their minds, how to get the most out of every experience, how to treat each other and how to prepare for the real world. You are a massive part of their journey towards being a well rounded adult and they will always remember you for it. While people don’t always realise it, there is so much to be grateful to teachers for. If they can manage these 20 roles and more, then those extra ‘holidays’ are very much needed!