I am wondering if elementary teachers really take home that much work every day and weekends? I'm trying to decide if I should find another line of work if all it's going to be is teaching work 24 hours a day. I have 2 young children and would like to have family time after 5:00 or so and also on the weekends. Is that unreasonable to want as a teacher? (and if I'm going to teach, I want to do a good job, but can you if you work only 8 - 9 hours a day?
My first few years teaching I spent many hours after school and on the weekend working on things. After 12 years of teaching I have decided that I do have a life outside of work....so I leave on time or shortly thereafter and I only spend 1-2 hours on the weekends planning or grading. You can do a good job and still have a life outside of teaching. It takes some thoughtful planning and time management, but now I can enjoy taking time for myself and my family! I do some of my planning for the year over the summer (at my own leisure of course So that helps the year flow better and I have a good idea of what I will be working on each month.
Hope this helps!
I laugh when others think I work from 8-3 and have summers off. Well, I don't and now you are seeing that you won't either. However, I will allow that the first few years is hectic and you do spend more time on school related things. However, during that time I loved what I was doing. I loved making centers, figuring out what I was going to teach, and grading papers to see what they mastered. You don't seem like you love that kind of thing. About 2-3 years in it gets easier because you know your curriculum and the way you would run a classroom, but then again they could move you. I was moved 5 years in and in all honesty it revved me up again. I was kind of bored with the same ol' same ol' so being moved was a good thing. Now 5 years into that grade I only work about an hour or so after school and then a few hours on the weekends. End of grading periods and holiday change overs take a bit more time. So in answer to your question, "Yes, it is a life committment to be a teacher."
It is still VERY reasonable to expect to be off by 5 nearly every day (especially if the kids leave by 2:30 like ours do.) I have 2 small children and this job still affords me more time with my babies than any other I can think of. Ex. Summers - yes, I probably do something work related every day but I DO NOT work 8-5 and I don't take a lot of courses or teach summer school. I choose that time for my family. I also take stuff home many nights and every weekend but guess what? Sometimes that stuff comes back to school looking just like it went home. Other times I do my work in front of the TV with DH after the kids go to bed.
Try to learn to be selfish with your time at work and really get things done. (While still being social enough that others don't think you are a snob) and you will take much less home!
I'm one of those teachers in the first "2-3 year" range. I absolutely, positevely, LOVE spending my time making centers, planning, getting my room ready, decorating, checking papers, etc. I posted this summer about being a "classroom-a-holic." I couldn't wait to get back into my room.
Granted, I don't have children of my own yet, so my students are my children. However, I can't imagine NOT loving my job...if I didn't love it, I know I couldn't do a great job, and that includes loving the after school things as well.
As far as time management goes....my official day is from 8-4. I am at school every day between 6:30 and 6:45, but I leave at 4 each day. I spend about another hour and a half at home doing work--plans, checking papers, making materials, etc. I do not spend much, if any, time on school work over the weekends.
It all depends on how you manage your time, but it is true that you will probably spend time above your contract hours. I am in my 4th year of teaching, and I've taught something different every year. I still haven't gotten to the point where things calm down after you've done it awhile. My management and organization is better, but I'm still have to create materials and lesson plans. I work 7:30-4:30 every day (contract days end at 3:30), and I work a few hours on the weekends. I also do some extra sometimes on the evenings, but not very often.
There have been times when I considered getting a different job because of the heavy workload. However, I would never be able to be guaranteed no overtime, and I wouldn't have flexible summers and so many holidays. I also think that teaching is the best job for me because I enjoy my students and teaching. I would definitely miss it if I left.
My opinion is that NO you can't work 8 or 9 hours a day and get everything done (at least where I teach). I do leave around 4:30 every day because I am exhausted; however I also devote much of my Sunday to school related things so basically I'm working a 6 day week.
The main problem as I see it is that while you may teach the same things from year to year (if you stay in the same grade)the demand and responsibilities have increased for me EVERY YEAR. Every year we have more and more requirements. Between writing portfolios, on demand writing, multiple choice test practice, open response questions, guided reading planning, center making, grading papers, science moduel planning, finding my own social studies lessons, it just never seems to end. Then as soon as you get familiar with whatever program to teach a subject it's changed and then you have to start all over again. I use to love doing all this but I find myself liking it less and less. I am very tired and honestly - I dont know how I'd do with children.
I'm not saying don't be a teacher but you cannot approach this job like a 9 to 5 job or you won't survive. We had a teacher break down this morning in tears because she feels like she is not being a good mother because she is tired, cranky, and overwhelmed at the responsibilites of this job.
Talk to some teachers in your neighborhood school and encourage them to be honest about how they feel.
good luck to you and I hope I didnt get too negative. I kind of wish someone would have explained to me what I was getting into before I spent 4 years getting this degree. I honestly don't know if I do it again.
I think that if you teach older kids you can sometimes grade papers while your kids do assignments. And your kids can do some of your preparation of bulletin boards and other things. I teach first grade and have for 15 years. I put in a lot of extra hours every day. But not all of it is required to make the classroom go smoothly. Some of it is just because I want to. No other adult in the school will ever even notice some of it--just me and my first graders. I do it for them, and because I enjoy it. I never really get tired of doing stuff for school. I know other first grade teachers who are more efficient about getting things done during the day. They never slow down, they grade as they go, put things away as they are moving from student to student, etc. I could spend less hours after school if I were more like that, but I prefer to do it in my own time. The point is, every teacher has to decide just how much time they want to spend and adjust their practices accordingly. Neither one is better than the other. It's just that the teacher has to develop what works best for her and her family.
This is my first year teaching (third grade) and the first month or so of school I was staying until 6, 7 even 8 o'clock...but now that I am getting into a routine I have made it my goal to leave by 4pm everyday (unless I have a meeting, which I have a lot of as an entry year teacher!). I don't normally bring home anything besides papers to grade once or twice a week...but I spend some time on the internet researching new ideas every now and then! I do think that it depends on the grade that you are teaching but you have to keep in mind that it will still be there tomrw!
On each friday after I have completed my plans for the next week, I make a list of things that HAVE to be done the next week, things that I would LIKE to get done and things that EVENTUALLY need to get done.
In one of my college classes (in the beginning of my program) a teacher told us that if we doubt our choice to be a teacher than we should not continue our program. Even on my bad days at school...I never once think to myself, why am I doing this? I KNOW this is what I am "supposed" to do in life and I absolutely LOVE it.
I hope you find something (it may be teaching or it may not) that you really LOVE and can find a balance with your family life as well. I do not have kids yet but as of right now, I have no doubts that I can do it. It will be harder, but I have faith that I can make it work because having a family and being a teacher are two things that I am not willing to give up in life.
What was the response of the other teachers to the teacher breaking down about feeling overwhelmed? I can imagine the feeling--only because I have 2 kids of my own. If I didn't have kids the extra hours spent would not be overwhelming me now as I think about what my life will be like if I try to go full time. I don't want to be such a worn out mom.
This is truly the key to balance! I am a third year teacher in fifth grade. I am a divorced mom with 4 teenagers. I have definately learned to work smarter and not harder!!! I have to put family first!
Mon-Wed-Fri no work after 2:45pm Tue/ Thurs I stay until 3:45 pm run copies etc. Most of the time I can correct wksh in class while students are working, honor roll students come to correct wksh during recess two days a week, sometimes tests come home,, must portfolio work gets corrected at home. On the weekend I may spend one hour planning and one hour correcting but teenagers help out in the greatest way !!!
I agree with the last poster - time management is key. One thing I find really helpful is to use my prep. period effectively. I don't do anything during this time but plan, mark, organize things to be copied, etc. I found I was wasting a lot of time chatting, etc. and then had lots to do at home. Now that I focus only on work I don't have nearly as much to do at home or on the weekends. So yes, it is reasonable and possible to have a life outside of school.
is the key. I am a 25 year veteran. I find myself spending more and more time on school stuff because I seem to be slowing down. I raised 2 boys and managed to teach, be a Cub Scout den leader for 8 years, shuttle kids to piano, tennis, Little League, soccer, church activities, etc. and follow my husband around to band functions (he teaches high school band) while teaching. I did occasionally bring home papers to grade or resource books to peruse while in the bathtub. I spent a lot of summer time on school stuff, but because I wanted to. Some of my colleagues walk out the door at 3:40 and some of us stay til well after dark. Others arrive at the crack of dawn. I really think it's all about personal preference and time management.
This is my 2nd year teaching, but I'm at a new school so it seems like my first year! I get to school at 6:30 and leave around 4:30 (contract time is 7:30-3:00). I spend at least an hour a night grading or planning. I also spend a couple hours on the weekend grading and planning. I feel like I'm never caught up. From talking to others, this seems like the norm for your first couple years.
I am in my sixth year of teaching, and my first in second grade. I have two children under four years of age. I basically leave home around 7a.m., get there about 7:20, and start working. I pace myself too. If I have any copies to make, I leave it in my chair and walk up to the office and do them. Fortunately, not too much copying is required in my school.
What else? I will sometimes not go to the staff room, and instead put on classical music, or jazz and grade papers, etc. Or like another post, sometimes when kids are working, I will quickly grade, say a spelling test.
My every Monday, half day, after lunch, I work hard preparing the lessons for the week, etc. ANd through all this, I mangage to leave about 3;00. Often I have to leave earlier because I have to pick up my son in preschool, 20 min. away.
I think organization is also a key. Use the post notes, and try not to do everything in one standing. The work is never ending. NOw, say for conferences coming up. I schedule a few student portfolios with student's note, observations, et.c, a day. Same for report cards. I start doing them way in advance. I will do a few a day. And before you know it, they are done. And I do not take any work home. I tried once, and it was impossible to do.
Try to talk to veteran teachers for tips too.
I spend many hours grading and planning on the weekends and in the evenings. Some of it depends on your grade level, school and how many students you have. (More to grade with a bigger class). Our school is "At Risk" so we have extra things we have to do (in-service, testing prep, etc). The job is very rewarding, but lots of work.
I am in my fourth year in first grade. I don't usually leave school until 5 or so, students leave at 3:45. I know how you feel. I have been there in feeling overwhelmed. This is the first year I feel like I COULD leave at 4 like a lot of others without any negative result, but I don't because I enjoy the extra planning.
I think you will get more comfortable with identifying what is absolutely necessary and planning for that during "planning" times. You need to honestly sit down with yourself and determine your priorities. I only grade tests, all others are graded together in class for personal feedback reasons (buzzword: self-assessment). This is one of the 'best practices' we hear so much about nowadays.
I also split my tests in half, reading and language on Thursdays, spelling and math on Fridays. The tests are graded quickly during planning times. I rely on observation of student performance a lot. I make notes during lessons on students that are struggling so I can differentiate. Not all students need to do the same things at the same times.
I think a lot of the problems teachers make for themselves is thinking that everyone has to do the same stuff. You are the professional, determine what each student needs to do to be considered proficient in the skill and only require that. Make your students more responsible for their own learning by utilizing open-ended learning stations . Specific skills could be addressed at these stations with a choice of 3 or four things that can be completed at each...just be creative...it worked for me and it can work for you too.