Sunday 30 November 2014

The reality of a teacher's day

This week's Socialist Paper includes a feature on education ( see ). 

The article from Nicky, a primary teacher, will be only too familiar to teaching colleagues. If you're not a teacher, I hope it helps explains the reality of a teacher's day:

6.00am: coffee and browsing for education news.
8.00: arrive at school. Planning will have been done on Sunday or the weeknight before. The expectation is that planning is done daily to reflect learning from the day before. This makes it very difficult to have evenings out. Check emails. Get resources ready.
8.40: children arrive in school. I listen to readers if possible. But at the moment I'm supposed to have structured conversations with 13 sets of parents by next week. Each takes 15 minutes.
9.00: one to one maths tutoring.

Gaps widen

9.30: maths target group. The teaching part of my job is the easiest and by far the most enjoyable. However, the expectations for accelerated and wider learning are unrealistic. It usually takes two to three lessons to embed each new concept - I'm supposed to do it in one. The gap between children's achievement and what they are expected to achieve widens.
10.30: break. Not on duty so able to grab a coffee. Pop in to see nurture group which I also have responsibility for planning. Check emails.
10.45: literacy. I used to have a small group of children newly arrived from other countries or with specific special needs. Now the move is towards "quality first teaching". This means these children are taught within a class of 30. My job is to make sure they can access the curriculum. There are currently 20 children needing my help across three classes, and I can't be in all classes at the same time. At least once every day I feel frustrated I can't do more.
11.45: phonics group. I love my group; they really enjoy the structure of the lessons and make progress. Unfortunately this is not seen in other areas of the curriculum. We are beginning to phase it out.
12.20pm: lunchtime. Usually spend most of it discussing the needs of individual students with colleagues, and marking work. I make sure I eat though - some do not even do that!
1.15: once a week I teach another year group to cover for planning, preparation and assessment time. We have extra teachers in my school to ensure this is covered by qualified staff. We are no longer supposed to cover, but the arrangement works for us. Covering a class is difficult, but it's much harder to manage behaviour if you do not know the children. I've prepared reading activities, a whiteboard flip and planned a creative writing session. This is followed by singing assembly which is, fortunately, led by someone else.
3.15: speak to parents; home time for children.
3.30: staff training on the new science curriculum. Our training is usually good; we were a teaching school but gave it up this year. Too tired to enjoy today's though.


4.30-6.00: I usually stay in school until the caretaker throws me out. If I do that I don't have to carry books home to mark.
7.00-9.00: I spend on average two hours a night working at home, and all day Sunday. I know some teachers who spend much longer, mostly on data driven tasks. I've been teaching for twenty years so I know the shortcuts, and won't do tasks I think are irrelevant.
Total daily work: ten to 12 hours Monday to Friday; five hours Sunday.
Total weekly work: about 60 hours.

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