A Day In The Life Of An Elementary School Teacher

Ever heard something like this: Teachers have all summer off – and school vacations, too! They get to go home at 3 o’clock! All they do is play with kids all day!

Whether you’re a teacher or a highly involved parent, you probably already know how ridiculous these assertions are. But to help spell it out further, here’s our minute-by-minute account of A Day In The Life Of An Elementary School Teacher – doesn’t seem so easy to us! (We welcome your thoughts in the comments, too.)

5:30 am: Alarm goes off. Need coffee.

5:30 am – 7:00 am: Coffee, shower, getting own kids up and dressed, maybe a stolen bite of child’s cold yet burnt toast that has fallen (butter-side down, natch) on the kitchen floor.

7:00 am: Everybody out the door (hopefully).

7:03 am: Return to the house to collect Chester, the classroom guinea pig.

7:30 am: Meeting of some sort (all-faculty, parent-teacher, IEP, you name it).

7:57 am: Check voicemails. Two irate parents and one befuddled one. Will call them all back later, when things slow down (ha!).

7:58 am: Consider making a quick trip to the restroom but are derailed by arrival of first students, one of whom has a nasty cough that will infect the entire class by Friday.

8:00 am: Pledge of Allegiance, explaining to children for the nine millionth time that we do not pledge “for Richard Stands.” Morning announcements and lessons.

10:00 am: Children off to art class. Still need to pee but decide that getting more coffee is a higher priority (a squirmy teacher is better than one who’s sound asleep on the desk).

11:00 am – noon: More lessons – multiplication tables, American history, social studies project involving massive vats of pâpier-maché. You will be picking pâpier-maché out of your hair for the next two days and trying, without success, to chip it off the classroom tables and chairs for the remainder of the school year.

Noon – 1 pm: Lunch and/or recess duty, where you mediate multiple squabbles with varying levels of effectiveness. You get clocked in the head with a ball or an apple, depending on the day. Finally duck out to the little girls’ room (literally), where the toilets are miniscule and where you are serenaded while you do your business: “Mrs. Abbott – I can see your feet!”

1 pm – 3 pm: Afternoon lessons and end-of-day pick up. Sort coats, mittens, take-home projects. Wonder how Sammy’s shoes wound up tied in quadruple knots on Billy’s hands. Children are tired and cranky, as are you.

3 pm: Buses pull away. You take a deep breath. The second shift is just beginning.

3 pm – 6 pm: Pick up own children from school and attend to them at home. Tasks above do not disappear but are instead moved to the 6 pm – 9 pm slot.

7 pm: Family dinner or activity back at school (play rehearsal, sports event, chorus concert, etc.).

8 pm – 10 pm: Quality time with spouse [read: brief, yawning exchanges on the couch in front of the TV]. You have lesson plans out that you should be working on, but the words are swimming in front of your eyes. You will wake up early tomorrow to get them done.

11 pm: Bedtime. Feel the first throat tickle that signals an impending cold.

11:09 pm: Realize you forgot to feed Chester his evening meal of lettuce and pellets. Get up to do that. Return to bed.

5 am: Alarm goes off. Need coffee.