I’m a proud public school teacher. Here’s a glimpse at what I do. From TeacherBiz

I’m a proud public school teacher. Here’s a glimpse at what I do.

From TeacherBiz

I am a teacher.

  • I spend Saturdays reading, researching, and creating materials to use in my classroom.
  • I spend Sundays entering my lesson plans for the week in our online planning and grading system.
  • I wake up at 5:15am each weekday, and the very first thought that enters my mind is “what am I teaching in each of my courses today–and what do I need to do in order to be ready for each class?”
  • I write and revise curriculum.
  • I meet formally (and frequently) with my colleagues to discuss content-specific issues connected to instruction.
  • I study the ever-changing standards to which I must align my instruction.
  • I purchase extra binders, assignment books, pens, and notebooks to keep in my classroom for students who are unable to go out and purchase their own.
  • I serve on district committees that seek to improve instruction for the children we serve.
  • I arrive at school early to make copies of and organize materials I’ll distribute to students throughout the day.
  • I distribute informational slips from the main office, principal’s office, or guidance office to students each day.
  • I check my voicemail before another teacher and her class come into my room during my planning period.
  • I spend my plan period returning calls and emails to parents, guardians, administrators, counselors, Child Study Team members, and others who have an interest in my students’ progress.
  • I must teach to address all the different ability levels and learning styles in my classroom.
  • I visit guidance counselors between periods to express concerns about students who I notice are struggling.
  • I spend nights and weekends writing college, job, character, or scholarship recommendations for students who are currently in my classes or those whom I have taught in the past.
  • I spend nights and weekends uploading those recommendations to an internet-based “college and career readiness platform” that sends these recommendations electronically to colleges and universities.
  • I create meaningful assessments which are designed to show me the extent to which students have mastered the content we’ve covered in class.
  • I hold individual writing conferences with students during my plan periods and before/after school to help those students improve their writing.
  • I spend time before/after school and during my free periods helping students revise their college application essays.
  • I nominate students (in writing) for acceptance into various programs; for scholarships; for recognition in the local newspaper; for recognition at our district’s awards night.
  • I engage in professional development opportunities, both in-district and out-of-district.
  • I read about all aspects of education “reform” and do my best to speak out against reforms that are damaging to students.
  • I keep accurate records of student absences, latenesses, early dismissals, restroom trips, visits to the nurse, class cuts, and class participation.
  • I attend my students’ sporting events and other extracurricular activities.
  • I grade papers. (Incessantly.)
  • I maintain (and update daily) sites and pages on social media to connect with my students and their families.
  • I maintain (and update weekly) a website, which has mass text and email blast capabilities, which lists class schedules, assignments, and other important information.
  • I visit our tech crew when my school-issued computer crashes, when my SmartBoard doesn’t work, when my projector needs a new bulb, when my printer is offline, when our online grading program is inaccessible, when my laptop’s wireless signal is lost, or when the my students encounter trouble with the computers they’re working on.
  • I keep a supply of flash drives in my classroom for students who can’t afford their own.
  • I monitor students in the cafeteria, in the hallways, and outside the building.
  • I break up fist fights, many of which occur between students who are physically larger than I am.
  • I donate gift cards–anonymously–to students who have financial troubles at home.
  • I constantly “reinvent the wheel” in terms of my teaching techniques, assessments, and materials; after all, students change, and so should my instruction.
  • I counsel students who cry because of problems with friends, family, boyfriends/girlfriends, peers, or other teachers.
  • I spend time before and after school allowing students to complete make-up work.
  • I read the newspaper, scholarly articles, and blogs daily and apply what I’ve read to my lessons and my students’ lives.
  • I spend summers taking professional development courses and reading and preparing for the courses I’ll teach (these change frequently) the following year.
  • I pay for many of the materials I use in my classroom.
  • I stress the importance of learning for the sake of learning–not learning to pass a test or get a grade.
  • I ask my students to be good citizens and to understand the common emotions and experiences that connect all human beings.
  • I seek to combat student apathy by determining students’ interests and crafting lessons that incorporate these interests.
  • I refer students who I feel might be engaging in dangerous behavior to our substance abuse counselor.
  • I refer students who I feel might be experiencing abuse at home to our administrators and counselors.
  • I refer overt or suspected instances of bullying to the appropriate authorities and discreetly follow up with or keep an eye on students who I feel are being victimized.
  • I seek to understand the home lives of the approximately 120 students I teach each year and to tailor my instruction based on this information.
  • I complete forms to help special education teachers write Individualized Education Plans for students with learning disabilities.
  • I record information about students who have 504 plans and submit this information to the building principal.
  • I attend IEP and 504 meetings before school, after school, and during my free periods.
  • I cover classes for teachers who must miss class to be in meetings for individual students.
  • I buy cookies, flowers, candles, pizza kits, and other things I don’t really need to help students with fundraisers.
  • I maintain a close, mutually-respectful relationship with members of our Parent-Teacher Association.
  • I educate students whose parents are wonderfully supportive or our public school district and its educators.
  • I educate students whose parents obviously bash teachers at home; often those parents wonder why their children have trouble learning in school. (Hint: it might be because of the lack of regard for academics and the lack of respect for educators that these parents spew on a regular basis.)
  • I witness the effects poverty has on students, some of whom come to school with worn or dirty clothing and without enough food.
  • I have served a coach and an extracurricular advisor.
  • I’ organize fundraisers, dances, and trips–and collect and organize money associated with each activity.
  • I attend fundraisers, organized by members of our school community, for students and families in need.
  • I donate coats, shoes, old clothing, new toys, and money to our community through charitable events our students and staff sponsor.
  • I use social media to connect to fellow educators all over the country in order to share ideas and engage in a professional community.
  • I administer standardized tests that are required by the state.
  • I spend instructional time preparing students, many of whom have test anxiety, to take such standardized tests by acquainting them with the format, content, and expectations involved with these tests.
  • I watch, with great concern, as testing companies like Pearson make hundreds of millions of dollars by selling their testing services to districts, many of which are in financial crises.
  • I watch, with great concern, as unregulated charter schools, which are funded by taxpayer money, are advertised as panaceas to the current problems with public education.
  • I watch, with great concern, as non-educators shape education policies that reduce the art of learning to a set of skills that is measured by high-stakes multiple-choice tests.
  • I volunteer my time to support the efforts of my local union.
  • I contribute hundreds of dollars each month to my pension.
  • I contribute hundreds of dollars each month to my health benefits.
  • I collect 22 (sometimes 21, depending on the calendar) paychecks each year–and do not get paid in the months of July or August.
  • I listen, with disgust, as teachers are vilified and maligned.
  • I understand that though many seek to dismantle public education, it is my job to ensure it remains a fundamental part of our society.

This is a rough and incomplete list that I complied in one sitting. Please add your own experiences in the space below to help me create a more complete record of a teacher’s responsibilities.

People call teachers many things, but to me, “lazy” is the stereotype that is most offensive.

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