The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Doctoral Student (and Full-Time Teacher)

September 30, 2009

Enter me in the hall of fame books!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachaelski @ 10:45 pm

I don’t think non-teachers realize how much good teachers actually work. Sure, the typical teacher gets out of school at 3pm and has summers off. However, what people don’t realize is how much work teachers do during their “off” time. Grading, for example, is impossible to get done within the perimeters of a traditional planning period. Lesson planning, especially in the beginning years, takes quite a bit of time. Most teachers do not walk into the classroom, open the textbook and teach. We plan out our lessons.

Last year, I was working at an extended-day charter school. The school hours were from 7:30-5. I typically arrived at school around 6:30 and left around 5:30. That’s 11 hours. A day. That does not even take into account the grading I had to do once I arrived home. Add on another hour or two there. I averaged around 12-13 hours a day of work. In addition, the majority of my Sunday was consumed with lesson planning and creating materials (I was teaching Social Studies without a textbook). Add about 5 hours there. All in all, I worked around 60 hours a week. Wait! Saturday school! Every other week we had a 4 hour Saturday School session- every other week 65 hours. Whew.

For the sake of my sanity, and academic aspirations, I moved to a more traditional education setting. Our school day is from 8-3. That’s 7 hours. I typically get to school around 7:30 and leave (when I am not coaching) around 3:30. That’s 8 hours! However, with the wonderful community and professional support I get at my current school, I have been blessed with 2 planning periods a day, 3 days a week (1 planning period on Monday and no planning on Tuesdays, which are Mass days). With that time during the school day and my weekday evenings (planted in front of the tube), I am actually able to get my next week’s planning, grade 100 essays, 100 vocabulary projects, and 100 reading logs done before the weekend. That’s right teachers, this weekend I will not have any work from school to take home. Non-teachers, this is HUGE!

A professor told me that in the USA, teachers spend significantly more time in front of full classrooms than our cohorts from other countries. In other countries, teachers spend less time in front of a classroom and more time working with small groups and individuals. The average American teacher stays in education around 10 years, I believe. We are destined for burn-out. I think I have discovered my key to avoiding burnout!


  1. I’m happy you’ve found a place where it seems like you can fit! Love you!

    Comment by betsyroses — October 1, 2009 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  2. True ‘dat! Even as a sub right now, I am physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. I wish more people knew just how hard it is to be a teacher.

    Comment by Mandy — October 1, 2009 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

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