What Students Think Teachers Do vs. What Teachers Do in Real Life

Not even close to the same.

What Teachers Do - What Students Think vs Real Life

We love our students, but sometimes we can just tell that what they think teachers do isn’t even remotely close to what teachers do in real life. Read on for a comparison between what our students see and the amazing things teachers do each and every day.

What Students Think We Do:

Five minutes before class:

My teacher arrives at school (or emerges from the closet in the back of the classroom), ready for another day of torturing children.

8 a.m.–12 p.m.:

Teacher tries to teach us stuff. Some of it is boring. Some of it is cool. Sometimes I pay attention. Sometimes I don’t. She was all disorganized this morning, didn’t have stuff ready to go. Isn’t that her job? But she managed to get it together and the activity at the end was actually pretty cool. I feel like I get the concept now.


I want to talk to my teacher about a fight I had with my friends, so I hang out with her during lunch. She’s always in our classroom, so I know she’ll be there to listen to me.


My teacher teaches the rest of the day and then goes home (or back into the cabinet in the back of the room). Must be nice to be done at 3 p.m., I have practice and then homework when I get home!


What Teachers Do in Real Life:

5 a.m.:

Alarm goes off. I’m trying to exercise before work because I’m so tired by the end of the day.

7 a.m.:

After working out, showering and getting ready, waking up my kids, grading a few more papers, making breakfast and lunches, getting everyone fed and ready for the bus, throwing a load of dirty clothes in the washing machine, and starting the dishwasher, I’m out the door for school.

7:20 a.m.:

I sit in the car for a few minutes, pumping myself up for the day ahead.

7:45 a.m.:

The copier is broken. I realize I’ve left my coffee on my kitchen counter. I have an email from that parent.

7:50 a.m.:

Right before class begins, a student stops in to see me. They want to talk about a problem they’re having at home. I listen, empathize, give some advice, and tell them to come back at lunch if they want to talk more.

8 a.m.:

The day begins. I don’t have all the materials ready-to-go for our opening activity because of my conversation with the student, but I get it together and the class goes well.

8:30 a.m.–12 p.m.:

The rest of the morning has gone nicely. I noticed that Brendan’s rash has come back. I sent him to the nurse. Janelle asked to go to the bathroom for the fifteenth time this month so I told her that I’d appreciate her staying until after the next activity to make sure she wasn’t just trying to get out of the writing assignment. She ended up staying all period and participating in our conversation, which was awesome. Still, I worry that she might not be getting breakfast at home, I make myself a note to check with the nurse and guidance counselor about that at lunch or during my planning period.

I met with Ian about the comment Joseph made about him under his breath that he thinks I didn’t hear but I did. Ian and I had a good conversation about what’s been going on between them and I tell him that I’m going to be talking to Joseph as well. Kacey told me that Maggie and Angelina aren’t talking to her because of something she said on SnapChat. She’s very upset and asked if she could eat lunch with me today. Tyrell didn’t say a word in class today. I really need to make an effort to connect with every student every day. I just need more time.


I eat my sandwich and yogurt, but can’t eat the leftover soup I brought from home because I’ve got several students in my room finishing up work and talking.

12:30 p.m.–1 p.m.:

Planning. I make copies, use the restroom (FINALLY!), go check my mail, stop to check on my teacher bestie who had a really bad day yesterday, get cornered by that teacher who wants to complain about the principal’s email, break up a fight in the hall, and call that parent. Where does the time go?

1 p.m.–3 p.m.:

The rest of the day flies by, thank goodness. I did have to ask James to go to the office because he just hasn’t figured out when its time to joke around and when its time to work, but I’ll meet with him tomorrow to make a behavior contract for moving forward. I definitely saw the moment when Ahmed finally got that concept he’s been struggling with for the past few days. SO awesome.

3:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

I stay a bit late to make sure I have all my copies ready to go for tomorrow. I send home two positive emails (I love doing that!) and clean up the supplies the students have left around the room. After loading all my grading and other work into my teacher bag, I head home. It’s been a pretty good day and I’m ready to do it all over again tomorrow.


The students may never see all of the planning, preparation, caring, worry, and struggles teachers go through, but we do. We salute everything you do for your students! Thank you!


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