A typical day would begin around 6:30/6:45 AM. Students begin arriving at 7 and while our contract times begin at 7, you can’t be walking into the classroom at the same time as the students. The time before was spent prepping for the day ahead or reading emails that had been sent while I was sleeping. Students begin arriving and eat breakfast in the classroom while doing some morning work. I would be reteaching concepts to struggling students, giving assessments, filling out paper work, and take attendance during this time.
Once the announcements and the day starts, the teaching begins. I would teach all content areas except specials (PE, Art, Music, etc). The only time I was not with students was that time. I would have to take the students to their specials and then I would have my planning time. This time was usually already filled with meetings.
Team/grade level meetings were one day a week. Meetings with academic coaches and/or administration were one day a week. That usually left three days a week where I could try to schedule meetings with parents and other faculty/staff to discuss student progress and any academic or social concerns. This was the time to reply to emails, make copies, prep for the remaining lessons for the day, make parent phone calls, grade assignments, enter grades, and fill out paperwork. This was also my only opportunity to use the restroom during the day. Of course, I could call the office or ask the teacher next door to watch my class if it were an emergency, but you can’t just interrupt your colleagues teaching every day, and there wouldn’t always be someone from admin or support staff immediately available. If you weren’t in meetings, you might try to eat your lunch. Planning time ranged from 45-60 minutes a day, depending on the school. You must be prompt at dropping off and picking up your class. If meetings ran over for one grade level or one teacher, it could disrupt the schedule for everyone else for the rest of the day.
We would take the students to lunch, which was typically a 25-minute period. In this amount of time we were to help all the children get through the lunch line, eating, cleaned up, and out of the way for the next class. This was also when you could try to eat, if you didn’t get a chance to during planning. Of course, we’re dealing with children so they might need you during lunch. Lunch and recess are usually timed closely together. Teachers stay with the classes during this time as well.
Apart from lunch, recess and specials, you are teaching bell-to-bell. Dismissal usually began around 2:15. We made sure every student got home the way they were supposed to. You were assigned bus or car rider duty. Dismissal usually only lasts half an hour. At one school, we had two weeks assigned of “late duty” where we had to stay until every last child was picked up by their bus, parents or other modes of transportation. A late bus could mean supervising students for an additional time up to an hour.
Contract time ends at 3. If dismissal ran smoothly, you had about 15-25 minutes left of your contract time to do anything you weren’t able to during planning. Run copies, send emails, make phone calls, complete paperwork, track down other teachers/staff/admin for questions, collaboration and signatures, grade assignments and enter grades. You also had to reset the classroom to wrap up the day and/or prep for the next day. You also had to attend faculty/staff meetings outside of contract time, but the frequency depends on the school. Some schools have monthly meetings, some schools have weekly meetings. They generally last an hour, but can go up to an hour and a half.
I generally didn't leave school before 5.
When I left school, I would bring my work computer home to finish catching up on things. Sometimes I would leave right at 3 because I would rather do all this extra work in the comfort of my own home. I also bought my own color printer/copier, laminator and paper cutter so I could make materials at home. I never worked at a school where I had access to a color printer so if any materials or copies needed to be in color, I had to do that at home. Laminating was difficult at school. Some schools don’t allow teachers to laminate. Some schools only have certain time frames where you could do your own lamination. There was usually only one laminator so if another teacher was using it, you had to wait.
Schools often hold PTA meetings once a month or every other month. All faculty/staff are expected to attend. Some schools may have it so you don't have to attend every meeting, but you must attend the majority of them. There are also special family nights or content area nights about once a marking period where families could come to the school from about 6-8 to meet with the teachers and perform some academic themed activities.
Lesson plans were submitted weekly. We would write lesson plans for each content area for each day. Math, Science, Social Studies, Reading, Language Arts, Phonics, Writing. We wrote lesson plans for whole group and small group instruction. Lesson plans were often required to be submitted in a specific template. You could try to write them during planning, but as you can see there wasn't much time left for that. You could try to reference what you did last year if you haven't changed grade levels, but these students have different needs than last years or the standards have changed or the district has a new pacing guide for you to follow.
We had to keep communication logs when contacting parents/families to make sure we could protect ourselves and the school if a parent ever tried to start a "he said, she said" situation. Often times parents could not answer if we got the chance to call during planning. Calling after school hours was usually better for actually making contact.
Some students may have been identified as struggling either academically or emotionally and have entered into the RTI process. This meant filling out weekly or biweekly documentation for each child based on their area of need to see if the interventions they were receiving were working or not. One year I had half my class in the RTI process.
Districts and schools have additional testing than the state testing. This meant beginning of the year, middle of the year, and end of the year record keeping and test administration. We would have to input the data from these assessments into other systems or websites for their record keeping.
Teachers are required to undergo evaluation where they have to complete additional paperwork about their classes, their academic growth and goals, and provide data. If you are a new teacher, you have additional assignments by the district that you have to submit.
Emails have to be responded to within 24 hours.
The most time consuming might have been report cards. We were expected to write a paragraph about each child’s strengths and weaknesses in each content area each marking period for report cards with class sizes up to 29 children, while also inputting at least one grade per content area per week, and assessing students social and emotional development -- sometimes with a rubric, usually without.
Any teacher managed or office managed behavior incident meant a referral needed to be written up.
I was often still up and working when my fiancé would get home from work between 11 and midnight.
Most of these outside of contract time obligations fell under the umbrella of “extra duties and responsibilities” wording in your contract. Admin[istration] could, and would, use that verbiage to get you to do just about anything.