Here’s what I’ve decided:
First of all, we, the American public, do not pay teachers enough to justify expecting 80 hours every week planning for, teaching, and then assessing the learning of our students. We don’t. And yet, that is sort of the expectation–that teachers will show up every morning fully prepared to actively engage students from bell to bell, followed by an indeterminate amount of time helping struggling students after school, followed by hours of correcting and providing meaningful, substantive feedback on their homework–because when else would they do that? It’s not like you can intelligently analyze student essays during the school day, unless you aren’t, you know, teaching during the school day.
I know, I know–summers off are supposed to somehow balance things out. But we can’t really expect to cease living for the other ten months of the year–and so this is what else I’ve decided:
While I recognize that the 7 hours a day in my contract will never cover everything I need to do to be an effective teacher, I have got to leave more of my school work at work… somehow. I have got to build more legitimate, independent student work time into each class–and I’m not talking about here’s-a-worksheet-shut-up-and-do-it independent work time. I’m talking about authentic learning that does not result in mountains of paper for me to wade through.
Because I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to expect time at one end of the day or the other to actually live life without being in a state of perpetual panic.
Also, I have five children left at home who really need to learn how to cook–among other things. I know I said I’d cook five out of seven meals a week this year, and I’ve been squeaking by, but just barely. Today my youngest is making twice-baked potatoes, while I do this. Actually, he’s been making them for almost five hours now; he’s flabbergasted at the amount of work this simple meal takes. Ya think?