I am a second career teacher. I worked almost twenty years in corporate America, and I have had a number of positions in management and training. I am no stranger to long, stressful work days and when I went into teaching, I theoretically understood what my responsibilities would be.
However, I had never compiled a list of all that I would have to do. For those of you who are not teachers, I can tell you - the expectations of classroom teachers are numerous and wide-ranging.
As soon as I inherited my own classroom, I quickly learned that elementary school classroom teacher’s responsibilities include (but are not limited to): teaching every lesson, every day for every subject; ensuring that all students are learning and that the material is differentiated for higher and lower ability students; meeting the social and emotional needs of all students; communicating with parents; communicating with administration; remaining current on grading student work and updating the grade book; sending home behavior notices (positive and negative); creating lesson plans, preparing materials; making copies (there are no workbooks in schools anymore, they’re too expensive); preparing for evaluations; preparing students for standardized testing; having classroom parties; planning field trips and of course, every good teacher must be versed in all material they are supposed to be teaching in every subject, which may or may not change the next year.
As so you can see from the list above, teaching is not just sitting in front of kids and talking.
Teachers are busy people and more often than not, do not have time to read curriculum materials - no matter how useful the materials might be.
It's not realistic to expect teachers to have read all of the materials for each and every subject and be 100% familiar with the content, especially if they are a new teacher or new to the grade level. I will tell you that most teachers I interact do try to do it all, and it often leads to serious teacher burn-out, which isn't good for anyone.
We need to help teachers to be successful in the classroom. Something as small as providing a ready made presentation they can use as a guide during a lesson is a pretty easy fix that just isn't being done by most educational publishers. Teachers Pay Teachers is making these more readily available, but there is still a long way to go.
In my next article, I'll speak more about how this need in the classroom inspired me to create my presentations and return to school as I was determined to learn more about how I could best make an impact in education for myself, other teachers and our students.
Classroom Teacher Doctor of Education
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