Six hour days. Too many holidays. Free weekends. You mad bro? While a great deal of people realise what it actually takes to be a teacher and prepare hundreds of young people each year for adult life, others remain of the impression that it’s a bit of a breeze. While being an educator is deeply rewarding and has some fantastic moments, there is no denying that it is extremely hard work. And, while I would encourage anyone who wanted to inspire kids to consider a career in a school, anyone who fancies it just because of the school holidays and the alleged free evenings should think twice. We don’t arrive at 9am and leave at 3pm with a one hour lunch sandwiched in the middle. Here is what a standard day of your average teacher might look like:
01:00am Wake up in a blind panic after suddenly thinking you may not have planned a starter for your second class.
05:30am Wash and groom yourself immaculately – kids are cruel and will pick up on ANY misplaced hair on your head or coffee stain on your shirt. Don’t make it easy for them.
07:00am Arrive at school, clear up classroom which has been left in a state by the night classes
07:15am Check through emails including an invite to a thought sharing process on using numeracy across the curriculum, numerous requests from heads of year for feedback on how on report children have been performing in your class and reminders to bring your class to an assembly during period 4.
07:25am Photocopy 200 worksheets for the day. You’d ask reprographics to do so but they don’t start til 9. When the lessons are already underway.
07:30am Seek help from somebody after you jam the photocopier.
07:35am Recall that you are on breakfast club supervision duty.
07:45am Break up the tension that has boiled over from a Year 9’s house party the previous night whilst monitoring the Breakfast Club.
07:50am Take a call from a sick colleague and realise that you have to prepare their lessons for the entire day.
08:00am Be as creative as you can pulling together lesson plans. Check cover sheet to see who is taking your colleague’s lessons. Cover sheet not yet complete. Swallow rage.
08:05am Staff briefing. Discuss strategies for keeping two particular students apart. Comment on how dry the Shakespeare lessons are and discuss alternative approaches. Get distracted when someone brings biscuits in. Remind everyone to take their class to an assembly during period 4.
08:15am Rush round to various cover staff delivering work for your absent colleague’s classes.
08:20am Get caught in the corridor by a student whose homework was dropped down the toilet.
08:25am Arrive at classroom to find the keen students already waiting. Hurriedly try to prepare the class.
08:30am Crowd control. Serious crowd control
08:32am More homework excuses
08:35am Berate late students and finally start lesson.
08:36am Lesson interrupted by cover teacher who needs to be shown where the colouring pencils are in your ill colleague’s classroom.
08:37am Deliver a lesson, which will consist of a starter, a main body, a plenary, some targets, some discipline and more than likely an on the spot inspection to see how outstanding you actually are.
09:30am Repeat. Although this is a bottom set eager for their breaktime toastie. So there will likely be a kick-off that will involve escorting someone who wants to punch your face to isolation.
10:30am Sit down for a break. Get reminded you are on playground duty. It’s raining outside. There’s a fight and some smokers to chase away.
10:50am Another lesson. You are informed a student teacher is joining you. Spend five minutes explaining to a class who hate change who this new person is.
11:50am Spend the first ten minutes of your lunch taking the student teacher through the lesson.
12:00am Eat a squashed sandwich.
12:05pm Lunchtime duty ensues. If you’re lucky you get chess club. If you’re unlucky you get the dining hall.
12:45pm File a report and have a meeting with the head of year over the inevitable lunch time punch up you broke up.
12:50pm Commence lesson. Completely forget about assembly.
13:50pm Take your hour slot in the isolation centre. Remember your first aid training when a crayola stabbing occurs between two people put next to each other – who are here because they were fighting each other. #facepalm
14:50pm Last lesson syndrome. Excitable, distracted class with peak attitude. It’s basically a battle for survival.
15:50pm Bus park duty. Someone will miss their bus. Phone home to get them picked up. Parent inevitably blames you.
16:00pm Staff training session. Usually mixed up with people you ‘wouldn’t normally work with’ to share ideas on how to effectively use video in lessons. No innovations are created.
17:00pm You COULD go home. Or you could find a space in the staff room to finally fit in some planning, report writing, assessments and marking. Everyone else has the same idea. Half hour distraction moaning about the day.
19:30pm Head home and have a bath and food. This is the most relaxing half hour of the day.
20:00pm Get the pile of essays, exercise books and/or coursework folders out with the red pen and an even redder wine. Music optional. TV a bad idea.
23:00pm Pack the bag for the next day and head to bed, knowing you will be waking up in two hours over something you forgot to do.
23.10pm Lie in bed and think of your day wistfully, enjoying the sensation of a hard day’s work and the achievement that you feel. Drifting off to sleep, feeling lucky that you will soon wake up and do everything you love – but moan about a little bit – all over again.