Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Year in the life of a teacher

People always think that teachers have a lot of free time during their holidays, which is actually not true. I have written a post about that here: The truth about teacher holidays

Yes, we got more weeks off, but we also have to work after teaching, to prepare lessons. We have to do the same thing during our holidays. Of course it depends on how you organize yourself, so I thought I’d share a year in the life of a teacher.

For me, the school year ends at the end of June. We have our end of the year Musical, say goodbye to my 6th graders and clean up the classrooms. The new school year starts during my summer holidays. I go away in my summer holidays, but usually it’s smaller trips (last year it was Ticino for a few days and a few days in London and Munich) and I tend to prepare a lot for the new school year on rainy days or I set myself a certain time slot. Our school system changes to the new semester, which means I can print off my lists, start labelling and preparing the first week of the new year. That’s always the first step, of course there are also things like the classroom door and of course kind of a plan for the whole year, where I place the different topics for the different subjects. When the time slot is over I enjoy summer and my other hobbies, so I never work too much on one day. I have a list of things to do and try to be done with it around August 20th, because the new school year starts around the end of August. In out team we have two kick-off days the week before term starts, where we discuss the first day, duties and get our classrooms ready.

The first day of school is always a special one, because we all meet in the aula, the teachers are introduced, the new students are introduced, before each class goes with their class advisor to the classroom. I’m the grade 6 class advisor and I always start with an introduction game, before getting everything done. We talk about the rules, write them down, the students full out profiles, label things, make a picture for the door, get their material etc. I usually plan in a whole week to get everything done with my class. I also teach grades 5 and 3 and with these I do a smaller introduction thing and then start with the actual subject teaching. The last day always ends with a little ritual, for example letting balloons with wishes fly or something similar.
After the first week everything starts properly: I start teaching the subjects with books and other material, we start having tests, activities start as well. After teaching I have to correct and prepare according to what happened in the lessons. The second week also means parents evening, where all teachers introduce themselves to the parents and give them all the info they need.
I also get to meet the student from uni, who I’ll be mentoring. I had a guy last year and he came every Wednesday morning and taught a lesson, I had to observe and give feed back. There is a sports day and a fall hike in the first few weeks.

After six weeks it’s time for the first holidays, we get one week in October. Last year I went to London for three days and spent the other days relaxing or preparing. I also had to write my comments for the mid term reports, which are sent out right after the holidays. It’s a lot to write, because I teach three classes and also have to write class advisor comments. The comments are the basis or the parents-teacher meeting in the second week after the holidays. The first day back is a professional development day for the teachers. Other than that it’s about continuing our teaching, testing the students and getting closer to Christmas. We get some bank holidays, have a Halloween afternoon, Founder’s Day, a Christmas crafts morning and our Winter Musical. I did the last two winter musicals and it’s actually a lot of fun. Of course it’s extra work, but I love my drama club with the kids. Around a week before Christmas it’s time for holidays. We get three weeks off. I usually use the first week to get all the Christmas presents and we sometimes have a concert then, so we rehearse as well. Then I just enjoy and relax, hit the sales and prepare the next few school weeks.

Since I have a student from uni, I don’t have to prepare that much, because he teaches everything (almost anyway). The student teaches for three weeks, where I have to watch, observe, give feedback, give tips and decide if he/she is capable to do this job. After these three weeks it’s back to normal teaching. I teach 6th grade, so it’s also time for me the student and the parents to decide where they go after primary. I invite them all to a meeting, where we discuss everything and fill out the needed forms. January also means the end of the first semester, so I get to write some more comments and put the final grades in. It’s only one week though and a Monday, because afterwards we have our ski days. I usually organise them with another teacher, it’s three days in Davos, being around the kids 24/7. It’s exhausting, but also fun. The Friday after is a PD day for the team. Then we get a week off, this time I spent a few days in Gstaad and just relaxed for the rest, it’s winter after all.

After that we have around 6 weeks of school, where we continue the material, make more tests and have a little Easter Egg Hunt. The meetings with the 6th grade parents continue; we need to have a definite decision until mid March. This is always a lot of work, exhausting and I’m glad when it’s over, because some meetings can be really difficult. At the beginning of April, we get three weeks off and that’s actually when I tend to go away for the three weeks. I prefer this to summer and it has worked out well every single time. This time I went to Dallas for a week and then spent 10 days in Tenerife. This means I have to prepare everything before the holidays and also write some mid term report comments. It’s a busy time, but so worth it.

We usually get back at the end of April with the last parents-teacher meetings to discuss the progress and the mid term reports. It’s about ten weeks to the end of the school year, so we start finishing up all topics/subjects, have a project week, do some excursion, have another sports day and start cleaning up everything. There are some bank holidays in between as well and I usually go away for at least one of those. This time I spent a few days in London with my bestie at the end of May. The last tests happen in the second last week, because afterwards we need to finalize the grades, write the last comments and start saying goodbye to the 6th graders. The last week is used for the students to collect everything in the classroom, clean up, play games, watch movies, say goodbye and more. The last school day is dedicated to the summer musical and the diploma ceremony for the 6th graders. At 11 am everything is over. The teachers take the afternoon to clear the classrooms and we have our summer bbq.

Happy Holidays ;) 

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