Teachers Day


During a recent “Cold day” off from school, I met a local friend for lunch. While walking in he said “Must be nice, to have a day off!” Definitely, a day where I am not required to go into work and be in front of students is a welcome break. Everyone, no matter what type of job they have, likes to have a break from the norm to be refreshed and rejuvenated. As we talked about work and made plans for the weekend, the comment began to sink in and cause me to reflect.

A teacher’s day is like no others. A teacher’s day starts like anyone else’s. Arrive at work – but this is where the similarities diverge. Teachers often arrive early to work (or stay late) because when the school bell rings to start the day, there is not time to gather materials, make copies or plan out the day, it all has to be done ahead of time. When I was in Canada, when the bell rang I would wait at my door, welcoming students to class for the day, smiling and giving gentle reminders: “Do you have a pencil? Did you finish your homework?” as 28-32 students filed into the classroom. In Lebanon, I am the one walking into the classroom, trying to carrel the students and have them get themselves seated and prepare for the day.

As a middle school teacher, I teach 4 to 7 classes in a day, have a parent hour and have two department or level meetings a week. Each time the bell rings, I have hopefully already told the students what we will be covering the next day, given them a closing task and written down in the classroom log book any homework I have assigned and filled in the attendance chart. Then I quickly move to the next classroom, sometimes 2-3 floors up or down with no elevator and begin again trying to calm the students whose previous teacher is doing the same thing as I am and has likely left the students to their own devices for the past 3 minutes. (It’s amazing what kind of trouble 11-13yr olds can get themselves into in 3 minutes!)

You might wonder when I go to the bathroom? I don’t. I have students fill my water bottle when it is empty and I wait, while allowing the students to use the toilet, to go to the bathroom myself on first break or second break. When I worked in hospitality, I at least had coworkers who could cover me if I needed to go, and when I worked for the Camp and Conference Centre, I had all the time in the world to take a bathroom break (at least that’s the way it seems looking back). As a teacher, I often invite students to meet me for 30 minutes of remediation. When I met with college students as a recruiter they always appreciated the lunch, students from my classes often like the break from the cafeteria but have difficulty focusing on their learning needs and don’t really want to spend their time learning grammar. I am often scarfing down food as I try to teach or prepare lessons. Many teachers (and administrators) go without eating due to time constraints of the busy job.

I am a lucky teacher, I have at least one 45min preparation period per day. This time is often filled with meetings. Meeting with co-workers, administrators and parents. Yes, this time is similar to many other jobs. Our “break” time is like many people’s work. When I am lucky and don’t have meetings, I am busy planning, grading, updating my website or making copies. Many teachers at home in Vancouver have minimal preparation time every week, often being limited to around 90 (or slightly more) paid prep minutes per week. Imagine having to prepare the majority of your work on your time! Most teachers spend at least 2- 3 hours daily preparing for work on top of their daily teaching time.

Yes, the cold/snow days are a luxury. Teacher’s days are full of work unlike most others. So on this actual scheduled day off – TEACHERS DAY – I am going to stop, relax and take a day for me… maybe. I should start writing report cards.


…. It consumes itself to light the way for others.

~ by Ryan on March 8, 2015.

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