I got home about a half hour ago–not from having a nice dinner with friends–but after spending 4 hours planning after school. Now don’t get me wrong, you know I love my school. I love my students. I love their families. I even received a phone call from one student tonight as I was getting ready to leave, and I told her I was still at school preparing for her classmates tomorrow. She was in shock. She had no idea that her teachers spent so much time to create a positive learning environment for them each day. Like my student, many people also are unaware of the late nights and weekends teachers spend regularly in order to stay afloat and push students to make significant academic gains. It is only the second week of school, I must find a balance.
Moreover, the bottom line is that I do not want to end up like I did last year–burned out. I dropped 5 pounds (weight my petite self definitely does not need to lose) and found myself spending Friday nights in a deep slumber instead of enjoying my youthful twenty-something years. Many people may be wondering, “Why are you at school that late? Why don’t you just go home?” The fact is that I have way too much work on my plate and there are not enough hours to do it. Most people can leave their work at work. Teachers cannot do this. Much preparation is done after work hours. At my school, teachers are given a 45 minute prep period in order to prepare to teach 2 hour and 40 minute content blocks twice a day, daily twenty minute character building lessons, breakfast duties, among other necessary responsibilities. The time just does not exist in the day to plan. On top of planning, we also have to grade and track student work. Each of these tasks takes multiple hours and each task must be done in order to produce the results we all want.
I am not complaining. I am simply shedding light on the life of a teacher. Starting today (I’m not going to include time spent prior), I am going to track the amount of hours I spend at school and at home doing the work of a teacher. I will post updates of my hours in an attempt to showcase that teachers work relentlessly for their students. I think many people will be amazed at how hard we work each day to prepare our nation’s future to live the lives of their dreams. Many teachers could say, I’m off at such and such time and I’m not doing this, but we do it because we care for our students. We want them to succeed and know that their futures depend on our high expectations, our top-notch lessons, and the sacrifice of our personal lives. As a teacher in a turnaround school (a school that is labeled as chronically failing a.k.a. our nation’s worst public schools), I know that my work is crucial. Teaching is truly a labor of love.