As I sit at my school’s parent teacher conferences for another three hours (last night was four hours), I can’t help but ponder about how educator’s are spread too thin. Yes I know I get tomorrow off from teaching so supposedly that is the rest I need for putting in twelve hour workdays, but I think that schools and the education system in general is missing the point. Teachers are the lifeblood of school. We are there to help students learn, console them, brighten their day (no matter how we feel), collect assessment data, design lesson plans, as well as accomplish a myriad of other tasks. In order to do these things well, we need the energy and motivation to do so. Most days it’s there for me, but there are times when I’m wiped out from everything that’s going on and there’s never a moment to recharge. Not only this, but teachers need time to innovate, organize, connect with parents, and prepare for the next day. We can’t do this when we’re busy all day long.
Now, I know that my complaints here are nothing new. Teachers have felt this way for a long time yet nothing has changed. It amazes me that we would even have two 4 hour nights of conferences structured in such a way that makes teachers exhausted and incapable of performing their best. I think that there are so many ways to change the scheulde and improve the model so that teachers get the necessary time to recuperate as well as develop professionally so that they can perform at their best. An example of this is the four day week schedule. The most important thing is that teachers get time off to regain their morale, because we are very dedicated to our jobs but we can’t function at high-levels under such exhausting conditions. Unlike some jobs, our work centers around fellow human beings and nothing about our job is routine or automized. Their is no room for laziness or having an off day, yet policy makers don’t seem to care about that fact.
Really, I think that schools do have a lot of great things going on. There are fun clubs, activities, sports, and enrichment opportunities that keep students doing great things. The problem is that we teachers also run these. Of course I love partaking in after-school activities and seeing my students with their families outside of my class. The problem is that none of this time is factored into the time I have to work which leaves my personal schedule with very little freedom. I think there must be solutions for allowing teachers to do their job the best, connect outside of the classroom, and still have some personal life left over so that we can remain happy and productive in life.
Let’s hope I can do something to change some of these demands and help infuse schools with more efficient practices.