I know that many people who do not live with, live next to, or associate regularly with teachers think that that we have a "cushy" job working 5 hours a day 38 weeks per year. You hear it in their voices when they hear you are "a teacher." You hear them sigh, "It must be nice to have so much time off." You hear it in their insincere comment, "I wish I had become a teacher!"
Don't get me wrong. It is the best job on earth and we do make a difference every single moment of every single day by what we do and say. Yet, the job is not a "part time" job for certain. It's a full time job with irregular hours and responsibilities that mirror many other professional jobs like accountants (think IRS season) and cardiac surgeons (who work extra hard during the March madness season).
This morning, a colleague posted this note on Facebook:
"I've been grading for 5 days already! Sigh- 30-40 minutes a paper x 75 papers! I want to finish sometime before they graduate!"
She has been grading in the evening, during duty "free" periods and for most of the weekend. Sometimes, she admits to taking personal days to grade papers! That's what teachers do so students will get real, meaningful, valuable feedback on their work.
It looks different for every teacher as we work with children with vastly different skills and needs. Teachers are working hard in kindergarten when they are planning for every nanosecond of every day and differentiating instruction for children learning "self help skills" and children who are reading and writing well above "grade level." Teachers are also working hard when they are managing the weight room long after school hsa ended, serving as role models and motivators for safer sports seasons and lifelong healthier lifestyles. Teachers are making a difference when they are at school on Friday night of a "should be" vacation week at 5 pm planning for the next week. Teachers are reading and writing about their "jobs" all year long and they are "working" when they spend days during the summer creating just-right textual environments for reading, writing and learning for their students.
Our hours vary, but we never work "5 hours" a day. Our school years vary, but it is never "just" 180 days. We make a difference - but we work very hard to make that difference.