Everyone is aware of the usual teacher responsibilities, such as grading papers, writing lesson plans, and attending staff meetings. But anyone who has been in the classroom knows there’s a whole lot more to the job. Not everybody knows about the numerous day-to-day duties that sometimes overwhelm teachers and interfere with actual teaching. Take a gander at this list. I need a cup of coffee just reading it.
1. We create materials and search online for engaging lessons.
Due to budget cuts, textbooks are outdated or nonexistent. Teachers have to scavenge and create curriculum. Luckily, we are creative and resourceful people, creating our own curriculum and looking on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers.
2. We differentiate lessons and analyze homework.
One size fits all does not work with education. I know teachers who create four different spelling lists to accommodate the needs of their students. We also spend extra time looking at homework so we can better understand the learners in our classrooms.
3. We help fellow teachers.
Teachers are collegial. When a colleague needs to borrow materials or books, we drop what we are doing to look for them. That’s just who we are, and it happens pretty much every single day.
4. We document, document, and then document some more.
In order to qualify students for any type of special assistance, we must document all academic and social behaviors daily. Sometimes, even by the minute. It’s not our favorite part of the job, but it’s important.
5. We input endless data.
The documented data we collect has to then be organized and analyzed. This includes grade books, IEP data, RTI, and assessment. Graphs are created. Goals are set. The paperwork is endless.
6. We read over daily plans and organize all materials before the day begins.
Although teachers are smart, we aren’t all Jeopardy! champions. We need to review materials and plan effective lessons. This takes time, and it usually means we’re coming in early and staying late.
7. We attend committee meetings.
There are now committees for organizing committees. At my school we have committees for safety, social, technology, curriculum, budget, and staff development. The list is long, and even more tasks are assigned at these meetings. These are usually on a volunteer assignments, so teachers are giving their free time to help the school.
8. We respond to lots of parent questions.
Although technology makes our lives easier, it also makes us more accessible. Communication apps enable parents to contact us every second of the day with any and all questions they have. We get questions about behavior, student eating habits, attendance, and more. And we have to take the time to respond.
9. We jam and fix the copier.
When we are running late, the copier we need to use is going to be jammed from the previous teacher, who was also running late. We spend a lot of time unjamming or finding someone who can fix the copier.
10. We stress about standardized testing.
All teachers stress about students being stressed. We stress about our test preparations, test results, and administrators’ reactions. Standardized testing is synonymous with stress. And we think about it all the time.
11. We manage technology.
Computers, iPads, printers, and SMART Boards need to be updated, charged, powered on and off, and bugs need to be fixed. And whose job is that? Ours. We are also required to learn the latest computer software programs.
12. We pick up trash, clean tables, and put away supplies.
As much as we try to get students to do this themselves, there’s still work to be done at the end of the day. We are often the ones picking up the rogue glue stick lids, hair ties, and half-eaten pencils.
13. We engage in impromptu before- and after-school parent-teacher conferences.
“How is my child doing?” is a question we are often asked at our busiest moments or when we just want to go home and change into our jammies. Yet we stop and have that conversation because it matters.
14. We go to the school library and search for books for daily lessons.
Teachers and students love books. We spend a lot of time in the school library searching for the perfect picture and informational books to supplement our lessons.
15. We laminate, label, and file everything.
Want to use something twice? Laminate it. Labeling, filing, and laminating are second nature to teachers. It’s worth the extra few minutes because it saves us time in the long run.
16. We update class websites.
Individual classes are encouraged to have classroom websites, Facebook groups, or Instagram pages. We do our best to keep those updated so our parents stay informed.
17. We sharpen a lot of pencils.
Many teachers choose to sharpen all the classroom pencils instead of having the students do it. The reasons are obvious to educators: limiting noise and the number of hurt fingers.
18. We stop at the store before work to buy whatever item is needed for a science lesson.
Educators buy their own supplies on a regular basis. I consistently run into my colleagues at Walmart, picking up something for a lesson. We do it because we want to do cool things with our students, and we enjoy it. But it still takes time—and money.
19. We provide daily behavior reports for individual students.
This goes above and beyond our assessments and regular paperwork. Many students require daily notes, rewards, or progress reports, which we are expected to fill out.
20. We zip coats, tie shoes, open containers, and help our students.
This one depends a lot on the grade we teach. (I teach kindergarten.) But all teachers go out of their way to help meet their students’ individual needs. Sometimes this means helping a sick student or going the extra mile to help a student going through a tough situation.
21. We encourage students.
Hugs, high fives, and verbal reinforcement go a long way in promoting enthusiasm and lifelong learning. Lives are changed because of the faith that educators have in their students. We never mind spending extra time on this. Quite honestly, this is why we teach.
What did we leave off the list? We’d love to hear what you think. Share your ideas in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.
Plus, check out the article on jobs teachers have but don’t get paid for.