“Teachers Have Such A Cushy Job”…Oh Really? One Delaware Teacher Tells All!

I wrote an article last night wishing more teachers in Delaware would write anonymous blogs.  The comments are coming in fast and furious on social media and on the article.  One teacher’s response deserved an article of its own.  Thank you Delaware Teacher!  I like this idea, and I would be more than happy to do the same for any teacher in the state!

Hey so here’s a thought: Give educators the opportunity to guest blog here. Like how Kilroy got you started. Then you might be able to hear from more folks. I’d also reach out directly to individuals you know and see if they’d like to submit something.
As far as a list of responsibilities, there is an excellent blog that I saw floating around on Facebook that really went into a great deal of detail about how teaching has changed over the 30+ years that person has been teaching. It is extremely comprehensive in terms of additional responsibilities.

Prior to making a list of my own, I want to make sure folks understand that I’m not complaining about working in my chosen profession. I’m not interested in being attacked by someone who thinks I’m “just bitching”, and yes, that has happened, online, on MY blog. So…

Educators are salaried employees, and that means we can be expected to work the job until our job responsibilities are complete. I’d like it noted for the record that, in my district at least, the union contract actually states this exact sentiment, that it is expected for educators to work outside the contractual hours.

I teach 3 classes and an enrichment course daily. I have 3 different grade levels, plus the mixed-grade enrichment, so that’s 4 separate courses I’m planning for on a daily basis. Currently I have a student load of over 210 spread across those courses, and in my discipline (elective course) there is no support person available to come in and work with the students who have special educational needs. Approximately 20% of my students have individualized education plans, with up to 1/3-1/2 of some classes with those particular individuals. Additionally, there are students with behavior plans, emotional support needs, and 504 plans that include such medical diagnoses as ADHD (I don’t have quick data on that percentage).

My courses are all hands-on, and I manage an 8,000 sq ft courtyard and have between 70 and 80 animals in the animal science program as well as wildlife habitat, vegetable gardens, fruit plants, and a small greenhouse. In my classroom I provide centers for students to work in when they finish early; these centers are in reading, art, science, and technology, and I created activities for each center that students complete as they work in the center.

On a normal day, I come into work 30-45 minutes early to get my room set up, copy materials, etc. I’m on hall duty for approximately 15 minutes, then the first class block starts. I’ve got 40 minutes of individual plan, then hall duty for 30 minutes twice a week, 70 minutes of individual plan twice a week, and 45-60 minutes of professional development with an additional 10-25 minutes of individual plan on the fifth day. After school I have hall duty again for about 10 minutes daily, then meetings three days a week. One of those meetings is about an hour in length while the other two are around 20-25 minutes each. That leaves me with four additional hours on a normal week between the end of the school day and the time I have to leave to pick my pre-k student up at his school. In a perfect week, I have about 11.50 hours between 6:15 am and 3:30 pm where I am at school with “free” time to plan, grade, etc.

I’m fine with my job duties, but it would be irresponsible to say that I have adequate time during the work day to get things done. Between the hall duties (good for the school), the peer learning time (good for the teachers), meetings (good for the staff), parent contacts (good for the students and families), and other things we get regularly called upon to do, it can be difficult to take the entire time allocated for work and give it to work. I’ve got IEP meetings, behavior plan meetings, TONS of emails to answer, guest speakers to arrange, trips for my student clubs to plan, evaluation system goals to write, lesson reflections to complete, student work samples to hang in the classroom and hallway, essential questions and standards and agendas to write on the board every day for every separate class, a positive behavior support system to maintain, attendance to enter into the computer (within the first 10-15 minutes of class, while also teaching), grades to update and enter electronically as well as back up manually, supplies such as books and paper and scissors to inventory and maintain, conversations with other educators about the students we share to help support them in our classrooms, missing and makeup work to track down, and data data data to enter into multiple systems. Heaven forbid I need to write a behavior referral for a student, because that entails multiple actions across multiple platforms in addition to calling home and conferencing with the student and all the things I did prior to needing to complete the referral.

Many of these are things educators have been doing for a long time. And that’s fine. The difference really is all the initiatives that we now have to follow. I can’t just write down my lesson topic on a piece of paper and go. I have to show my bellringer activity, my activating strategy, 3-4 transitions throughout the class, how I’m differentiating for all my students, what in-depth questions I’m asking to evaluate learning, what my formative assessment will be, where the lesson ties in to the overall unit and course, what standards the lesson is based on (my content standards plus math and ELA common core plus any science and social studies), and the level of rigor. We have a lot of professional development on our own in addition to the ones we get in groups.

So yes, over time the responsibilities have grown and the complexity of meeting the requirements have grown.
A side note about Amplify: Yes, it is a company. However, that term is being used across the educational environment to describe a series of tests. There’s the Smarter Balanced test, the STAR test, SRI, etc. Amplify has a product that gets used, but instead of using its full name every time we refer to it, we simply say “Amplify”. Not trying to be touchy, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone respond to an educator with that “Amplify is a company, not a test” comment.

And now that my lunch “half hour” is over…

4 thoughts on ““Teachers Have Such A Cushy Job”…Oh Really? One Delaware Teacher Tells All!

  1. My week: I teach 7 high school courses: French 1, 2, 3, Japanese 2, 3, 4, and IB Theory of Knowledge. This is my breakdown for the week:
    18.5 hours of class taught (about usually 22.5)
    4.5 hours exam proctoring
    3 hours hall/breakfast/monitor duty
    6 hours in meetings (professional development and others)
    2 hours of extra curricular activity supervision
    4 hours of scheduled planning time
    8 hours of after-hours planning time

    It was an easy week, but I only got through about half of my to do list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for posting this. As the author said, if you try to explain this to anyone, you are immediately accused of bitching about your job, and that you don’t care about the students.

    I would add a few things. Most of the paperwork and data entry/collection are unnecessary and never looked at after the teacher is done. How do I know? Because there is never any followup. We are asked to submit it to some great, black hole, and never hear of it again.

    PLC meetings are forced and topics aren’t organic. Instead of talking about students as individuals and how to best support them, we’re discussing some topic from some book that some admin (that has never taught or hasn’t taught in years) bought with funds that could have gone to better use in the classroom.

    Then there is the big issue. Money and parental involvement. I know of schools where the PTA raises $50K. Then there are schools like the one where I work, that hasn’t had working PTA in a decade. Yet, we are expected to come up with rewards for PBS, take kids on field trips, just the same as that school with money to burn. There are no parent volunteers coming in to help me with centers. I buy most of my classroom supplies with my own money.

    All this takes a toll on a teacher. People bitching at you that you have a cushy job. Spending a lot of your own money, which you usually have to put an end to, and the students suffer because you don’t have the resources for certain activities. Time spent not in the company of your own family because you have to finish grading papers at home because your planning for the week was spent in IEP meetings, or covering the classrooms of teachers that need to go to IEP meetings. By the way, for several years in a row, I’ve had classes of over 30 where MORE THAN half the students have an IEP. A few years ago, I had a class of 40 students and 27 had IEPs. However, I will say that this year my IEP load is not quite that dramatic. Even still probably about 30% of my students have one.

    It’s exhausting and really drags down the good feelings you get from your students and teaching – the parts of the job that you and enjoy and keep you going back.

    Like

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