A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.
Part One: Our day is planned to the minute
Elementary school schedules must be one of the great mysteries of life, because A typical elementary schoolday schedule is one of ClassAntics’ most popular posts. The blog entry explains that the schedule is determined by outside factors and does not necessarily reflect a teacher’s priorities.
The typical elementary school schedule is extremely regimented. The entire class’s schedule revolves around special areas and special interests:
- Music class is at 9:32 and not a second before
- Lunch is at 11:50 and if you’re late, they might run out of the good food, plus your kids will miss part of their recess and be mad at you
- Math had better be underway by 10:35 because that’s when the instructional aide will come to help
- Dismissal must run like clockwork—every day, even if you have a sub
This regimented schedule explains why Alarm Clocks Make Classroom Life Better: I set them to go off when it’s time to get ready for lunch and dismissal.
Teachers typically plan lessons well in advance. We have a yearlong curriculum map, goals for the quarter and month, and lesson plans for the week. Problem: we never know how long students will take to do anything!
Will they be able to complete this math lesson in the 40 minutes allotted? Will they still remember the material tomorrow or next week? The slightest change can wreak havoc on all a teacher’s careful plans. However, teachers are happy to adjust the lessons and schedules they spent so long developing. Our job is to teach what these particular students need now.
Elementary school teachers never have a spare minute. What looks like prep time—before school, after school, during specials, and lunch—is spent attending meetings, performing extra duties, and tracking down key personnel to address classroom issues. Really, many teachers count themselves lucky if they get a chance to go to the bathroom during the day. Prep time happens during the evenings and on weekends.
Fun fact: while teachers never have a spare minute, kids have no sense of urgency about anything but recess. Part of this is because they’re kids, but part is because they just don’t understand time. Teaching kids to tell time and read a clock is an annual struggle, no matter the grade level.