Saturday, June 13, 2020

Why Teachers Need a Summer Break

I've often heard that teachers have it easy with all their vacation time. Why do teachers need summer break?

This is what transpired in ONE class period (65 minutes) today:

I start the class with a full bladder because I had so many student questions from the exiting students of the last class and from incoming students for the next class, that I haven't had a chance to run to the toilet that's only three classes away.

I'm short two chairs because some other teacher borrowed them and didn't return them or leave a name, so I have to assign a student to go scavenge.

The students are writing their first literature analysis essay, so almost all of the 25 students need one-on-one consultations. There's no time for this, so I have to do a quick assessment of their status, then give a quick editing task that I'll check on after I consult with the next student, and continually circle back to give the next task.

I'm simultaneously grading their work as I'm doing the consultations because the school has insisted that we need a ridiculous number of grades in the system to prove to parents that we're teaching. I calculated the number of assessment grades they want times the time it takes to grade everything as Summatives (vs. Formatives, i.e. ungraded draft work) times the number of students in the class and it averaged 30 hours a week, just on grading. So I'm entering grades on their drafts as I consult with each student.

Late students arrive and there's discussion because they don't have passes.

Unmotivated or confused students will stop working and chat with their neighbors who were working, so I have to stay aware and on top of this behavior to keep kids on track.

Students need to use the restroom, so I have to keep track of who's gone and how long they've been gone to ensure they're not wandering the halls.

Remember, I’m still doing writing consults as all this extra activity is happening.

Students have an argument about a stolen pen that nearly results in a physical fight, so I need to get them calmed and back to working.

I have a brand new student show up who's missed the first 1.5 months of class, but needs to be caught up, which I cannot possible do during class, so I send him to the library to get one of the extra textbooks I returned because supposedly we had stopped registering new students. But the library has no idea where the extra books went (according to the returned student), so I'm trying to dash out an email to the librarian to track them down while the students start lining up at my desk to ask questions, instead of staying in their seats as requested, so that I can keep track of who I've worked with already and ensure all students get some attention during class, not just the eager ones.

I have a student who had behavior issues which has resulted in him missing school. This is the first time I've seen him in two weeks, so I'm catching him up on the whole essay process (one that took two weeks of assisted classwork to get this point) when the school head comes in and takes him out of class halfway through the discussion, so he'll be even further behind now.

The nurse comes in and out, taking batches of students to check their hearing, which requires getting all students attention, stopping their work, then helping the nurse get the right students... for every batch she comes to get. Remember, I’m still trying to do essay consulting with 25 students in 65 min.

Some students want to rewrite their outline worksheet, but other students have taken all my extra copies, so I'm trying to print more from my personal printer because I can't leave the students alone in class to make more.

Then the bell rings with several students who haven't had time to talk to me, so they clamor for a minute of time and I have to quickly schedule after school meetings. By the time I've finished, I'm about to run to the toilet that I had to use at the beginning of class.

Then the bell rings for the start of the next class.

That's one class - one hour of my day. Now imagine doing that for 4 periods in a row with only a 30-minute lunch break (which is actually 20 since students stay 5 min after class and come in 5-min before to ask questions, during which, I'm at my desk scrambling to check emails that have accumulated during the last 3 teaching periods while I stuff lunch down my throat. As soon as class four is over, I start doing the rest of my job: planning/running after-school clubs, working on the school's yearbook, contacting parents of failing students, arranging meetings, coordinating with fellow teachers for co-teaching shared classes, creating a homeroom curriculum, checking up on department functionality as HOD, completing field trip request forms, coordinating a peer-to-peer training program, and... you get the idea.

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