On a Day of a Teacher

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I stopped at the grocery store on the way home where the clerk said to me that I looked tired and must have had a tough day. After I smiled and affirmed her observations, she encouraged me to relax this evening. While nodding, I said to myself, “Who is she kidding?”

The 6:30 AM-to- PM part of the day at the high school was interesting.

  • I arrive at 6:30 AM for the final preparations of the day.
  • 7:25 AM – Homeroom starts and it’s too short to do scheduling justice.
  • Three classes (85 minutes each) had lab activities, which had various issues.
  • The fourth class had a Performance Objective Assessment (POA), a required district assessment.
  • During my conference period I had a parent conference on the phone, then went to the Special Ed. room to work with students.
  • After the last class, I knew 16 students would be retaking a different POA, but little did I know there was still more to come.

It’s 2:30 PM.

  • Most students arrived for the retakes – so getting them started is the priority.
  • Another student wanted to discuss grades. She saw the time wasn’t right and was willing to talk some other time – I was thankful.
  • A second student graciously waited as we had to shift from one make-up item to another, and then I finally started 20 minutes of tutoring.

It’s 3:00 PM. As the tutored student left, a Special Ed student entered to retake a POA. I decided to test him orally; and I determined he was deficient. Learning is very difficult for him and I would like to continue oral evaluations with him. I tried remediation and found some helpful websites for him to do in the classroom for about fifteen minutes while I continued multi-tasking.

It’s 3:15 PM. Another struggling student appears – the one who appeared earlier then left. She was very patient with the hectic after-school period. I’m sure school isn’t easy for her, but her academic laziness compounds the problem.

It’s 3:25 PM. A parent appears at the door for a surprise meeting. I excused myself from the student to meet with the parent. I addressed her questions, and she kept it short because she saw I was working with a student.

It’s 4:30 PM. The tutoring session is over; and I think it went well. I’m alone in the room, so I prepare to finish a few tasks before leaving for home.

It’s 4:35 PM. A student who made-up a POA earlier (and the son of the walk-up parent) wanted to go over the POA to see how he did. Good news – he did well. He’s been improving yet doesn’t yet “show” the grades to please his parents. We talked as I tried to give him some insight in school success.

It’s 4:45 PM. Has the last student finally gone? I think so … but it’s time to check the phone messages to see who called. I imagine some parents because it is “Interim Reports Day.” Yep … two parents. I returned the first message as it seemed to be more pressing. Fortunately, it was a positive conversation.

It’s 4:55 PM – Time to check my email. Yikes! – an unpleasant note from Special Ed. Good timing! … and to think that working with them and their students has been a source of personal pride on all counts. I’ve even received commendations for that work.

It’s 5:00 PM. I’m tired … time to go home – but I have to stop at the grocery store for a few items. I recorded the after-school events.

It’s almost 8:00 PM (but I’m home). I had dinner and did the dishes. I haven’t read the paper nor watch the news. Fortunately through dinner, I did get a chance to talk to my wife.

I still have those 16 papers to grade so those student can get their updates tomorrow in order to cushion the mid-term report damage. Who knows how many other papers are overdue. Plus, I wonder what I will be doing in class tomorrow – and classroom readiness is another personal pride. I don’t feel ready … all along I keep thinking about the Kroger clerk’s suggestion.

This account was a real day – maybe not a typical day – but very real – actually a modified account of a reflection that I wrote (and kept) as one of the assignments required by our building administration.

Teacher is a difficult but rewarding career. It’s the joys of movies as October Sky and Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s the wide-range of emotions from Dead Poets Society and Stand & Deliver. Teaching is also similar to a Rocky movie of being resilient from being a punching bag and getting knocked day.

Yes – this was 18 years ago – and to think the pressure on teachers today is much greater than then. I wonder – How many teachers today will reach full retirement?

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101 thoughts on “On a Day of a Teacher

  1. Frank, I want to thank you for all your sacrifices. My best friend is a teacher and I see how hard she works. Teaching is one of the toughest jobs I can imagine. I hope you know how much we appreciate you and all good teachers, our entire future depends on you and I can only imagine the burden of the responsibility, physically and emotionally. My hat’s off to you and all teachers Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The teachers in our two parishes (counties) haven’t had a raise in eight years. When the parishes placed a milage vote on the last election to give teachers a raise. it was voted down. It would have added about 1/3 of cent to the tax rate. We are 50th in education.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen to that, Frank. I can tell you that I’ve heard of at least a half dozen young teachers in our district who have left teaching in the last two years. It’s not about going to a other district, it’s about not wanting to put up with all that most people don’t understand or realize.
    Great reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I became very ill after teaching for 30 years and eventually gave it up. It took me three years to recover my health and in that time all my savings were gone as was my home. Hey – ho ! Now I may be financially poor, but I live in a country where there is assistance and I have my freedom, health and a stress free lifestyle 🙂 I don’t recommend it as a career for anybody these days!

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    • Pauline,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I knew part of it, but wow … I’m speechless … but I also know you were dedicated to your craft. Nonetheless, a toast to better health, freedom, and stress-free living. 🙂

      Like

  5. I taught K-1 for many years, Frank, and used to tally up the hours that I spent every year filling out paperwork and writing evaluations and pre-admission recommendations for Kindergarten parents hoping to see their child admitted to private schools for the coming year. Every year I would spend hours of personal time on top of my other prep work, and I’m sure the parents had no idea of the time commitment. Teaching, at every level, is a calling, I believe. I also left the classroom for higher ed research more than 20 years ago. I can’t even begin to consider what teachers are being asked to do as part of their current professional load. My biggest fear when I was teaching was how to protect my children in the event of an earthquake. The stakes are exorbitantly high now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      Knowing your educational history, I was hoping you would find your way to this post. Hours are countless … and others just don’t know. It’s a 6-day a week job now … and at least 4 of those days are long day!

      I wrote this many years ago – and my administrator said there were exhausted simply by reading it. On the other hand, I found their words as hollow. But I kept my “reflection” and eventually turned it into this post. 🙂

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  6. Frank, thank you for sharing this wonderful account. Teachers are selfless, I find. It is a job of self sacrifice for the reward of the betterment of the future generation in the end – there is literally nothing else to gain from being a teacher! When I read through your post, I thought, my goodness, Frank is a teacher, and yet still manages to blog frequently and is an active commenter!? But now I realise this was 18 years ago. That doesn’t negate the excellent time management, organisational and brain skills you have. I tried the teaching debacle for about two years, between the ages of 21 and 23. It ended in January 2017. It was exceedingly harrowing, I taught classes from Year 1 (5 year olds) all the way to Year 11 (16 year olds); and during my day I was flitting from class to class, carrying piles of books and mentally preparing myself for each age group. You have to talk very differently to 5 year olds than you do to 16 year olds, it will not do to m,ix up your tone or your attitude, respect is achieved at different levels between those ages. Do you know what I mean? My day began at 7am and ended at 6pm, and I couldn’t stick it in the end. I gave up. And I seriously seriously take my hat off to those who don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lenora,
      Yes … I taught many years, so I saw my share of changes. I doubt I could survive in today’s educational world.

      Almost all of my posts are nonfiction – so one can tell when I get into teaching mode in a post. Also, my background is science, so there’s another aspect to my analytical side.

      You mentioned the wide range of ages. Now my experience is high school -Imagine how scared I was substituting in a class of first graders!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking the same thing – is it just me or are kids becoming more wild and less respectful?? What sciences did you teach, if you don’t mind my asking? I can just imagine – first graders are a force of their own. My first day was a nightmare, I went home with shaking hands! One thing I learned though, and this was key to my becoming better able to control such a large class of five year olds, is that young children like routine. They respond well to knowing exactly what is expected of them, as long as it makes sense to them, and isn’t sprung on them. If there is a daily order, they will adhere to it, no questions asked. If there is a new order, it must be explicitly explained, and visually demonstrated. Any deviousness must be nipped in the bud immediately without question, because they all follow each other like little lambs!

        Liked by 1 person

        • No matter the grade level, that first year is quite the learning experience! Whew!!!!

          I primarily taught on the biology side, but also did physical science (intros to chemistry & physics) plus Environmental as it blended the sciences well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • That’s true – half my class when I was in high school studied medicine, and are only just now graduating. Made me feel somewhat inadequate, but we are all good at something, and I think some teachers have that ability to prod young ones in the direction that most suits them. I was all for taking the science route but one of my teachers told me, a little harshly, that I didn’t work hard enough for that. It’s a good thing anyway, I prefer languages! 🙂

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  7. My husband was a high school math teacher for 37 years. He’s retired (although he teaches math part-time at a community college). Younger daughter is a middle school English teacher. We have many friends who are or were teachers. I know how hard teachers work. It makes me angry when people think teachers don’t do much. There is also SO paperwork to contend with now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John,
      Thanks for the support. Fortunately, every day is NOT like this one. However, I think this particular day captures much about teaching. This day carried a lot of impact, and I easily recall feeling used and abused at the end of this day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Working for Germans one has two bosses. The first is the head of the American company. The second is the head of the Corporate sector in which the American company is located. I was in a meeting once where both bosses were present. I was asked my opinion about a strategy. To say I liked it would offend one boss and I’d die. To say I didn’t like it would offend the other and I’d die. I got out of it by listing the pros and cons of each. The bosses thought I was totally objective and importantly loyal to each. Those are the pitcher of martinis at night days.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sad question, how many will reach retirement? I wonder that myself as you add in the horror of school shootings now. What will we do without good people willing to give up their lives for teaching our future adults? Many thanks for your dedicated service, Frank! I bet numerous students think of you as someone who influenced their lives in hugely positive ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, Frank. I know it ain’t easy being a teacher and grading papers and teaching students to succeed. I’ve been lucky to have great teachers back in my days helping me to succeed and graduate from high school.

    Thank you for your years in the profession my friend.

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  10. A difficult profession indeed, especially today. We’ve read of a lot of turnover being experienced in the teaching staff at several nearby schools. Ads have started up for substitute teachers as well – not enough folks in the pipeline. I would guess full retirement is not something we’re going to see much of in the years ahead, Frank. Here’s hoping at least some folks continue to find the rewards exceed the sacrifices.

    Like

  11. You are doing a great job and I love seeing fellow teachers putting in so much hard work and loving what we do! It is so fulfilling, but some days our beds just seem too far away!

    Like

    • Tess,
      Welcome first time commenter. Thanks. For me, this was 17 or so years ago – so I’m long gone out of the classroom. Teaching is quite the time-consuming challenge. Best of luck with your career.

      Like

  12. Frank, greetings from across the pond. I really enjoyed reading this – so interesting to see how other teachers days compare to my own! I’m just about to move away from teaching…less because of the pressures and more because I feel my integrity being stretched just a little bit too far – and all in the name of grades and league tables! Best of luck.

    Like

    • Life Lessons,
      Welcome first-time commenter. Always interested to see another teacher’s perspective because they are the ones who understand the most. I wrote this many years ago (2001?) and left the classroom not long after. I also understand your comment about stretching integrity. I’m glad I left when I did, and I’m confident that it is much worse today. What will you do next?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: On a Yearly Transition – A Frank Angle

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