Teachers work all hours of the day, every day. It’s just something we do. It’s something we’re used to. We don’t even think about it anymore. Let me ask you this: Why? Why are we used to this? Also, when did this become the norm, and how did we miss this conversion?
My co-teacher and I were talking the other day about how much of teachers’ own time is used in planning for our school day. She is a 29-year veteran and I’ve been doing this for 19 years. She asked me, “Do you remember a time in your career when you didn’t spend so much out-of-school-time planning?” I do. We both do.
I remember teaching in MA where I not only taught classes, but also had my special ed caseload. We didn’t have a special ed secretary, or a building coordinator, so I did everything from initial contact and testing through to the development of the IEP, including all paperwork and meetings. I was still able to work a normal day and leave work at work. Of course there were times when I needed to play catch-up and bring work home, but that was far from the norm.
There was even a time when I starting teaching in in MD when I arrived at 8:15, left no later than 4, and brought nothing home with me. Over time, I began arriving at work 15 minutes early, then 30 minutes, then 45…now I get there at 7 every day. I’m not required to be at work until 8:15. You would think that extra 75 minutes would be enough overtime to get the work done. As any teacher will tell you, it’s not.
I bring home a minimum of an hour of work each night, and many more on the weekends. From plans, to IEPs, to reading professional literature, to misc. paperwork…there’s never a night I don’t have something. Again, I ask: When did it get like this, and why? And why do we continue to do this to ourselves?
I may not have the most packed social calendar, but I do have things to do outside of work. Even if it’s only watching the Eagles while I knit, it’s something! I’d like to go back to a time when it was ok to leave work and have a life. If we do that now, teachers either feel guilty, or overloaded when it’s time to catch up.
Just because it’s Labor Day Weekend, don’t take that to mean you must labor all weekend. Take some time for you and your family. Do something fun! 🙂