Posted By janice on November 18, 2011
Guest post by Certified Professional Organizer® Helene Segura
Teachers are some of the most important people on this planet. They spend more waking hours with children than parents do. They guide students in the formulation of who they are, what they think about, and who they want to be. Yet despite the important role that teachers play in the development of our children – our future generations – the general public has little knowledge about what a teacher’s day is actually like.
Why would this be important to know, you ask? A single teacher determines how much knowledge in one subject area that a student will be presented – or not presented – over an entire year. While we can demand until we’re blue in the face that only the best teachers should be in America’s classrooms, they will not stay there if they are not provided with the resources to do a good job.
Fifty percent of teachers across the country quit within their first five years in the classroom, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The number one reason given is not the low pay. It is not student behavior. Instead, those who leave the classroom site a lack of support. Teachers are overwhelmed with all of the duties that are heaped upon them, yet they are not given the tools to face those pressures. Projectile decisions are hurled at educators at an insane pace.
Here’s one extremely brief example, taken from my book Less Stress for Teachers: More Time & An Organized Classroom:
8:20:00 “Open hallways” bell rings; stand at door for greeting
8:20:15 First smiles of the day greeting early birds
8:20:30 First student dress code violation
8:20:45 First student excuse for the day about dress code
8:21:00 First student stomp-off to fix dress code violation
8:21:15 First admit slip to sign
8:21:30 First grade check sheet to sign
8:21:45 First question about all make-up work for the 6 weeks
8:22:00 First question of “Are we doing anything good today?”
8:22:15 Principal walks by and says, “I need to see you” but doesn’t elaborate
8:22:16 Fear and paranoia set in; what does principal want?
8:22:30 Football coach walks up and says, “How are Johnny’s grades?”
8:22:45 Morning greetings continue as curt conversation with football coach ensues
8:23:00 Student returns and asks again about make-up work
That’s the first three minutes of a typical school day on a high school campus. THREE minutes! And class hasn’t even started yet!
One of the best attempts I’ve seen at trying to explain the work day responsibilities of a teacher to someone in the business world is this quote from Donald D. Quinn:
“If a doctor, lawyer or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”
So, how can you help? Obviously, I’d love for you to purchase my book for the favorite teachers in your life. Or, if you have some not-so-favorite ones, maybe they’re the ones who truly need it. But this is what I’d love for you to do:
Walk up to a teacher and ask, “How can I help you?”
You might have the time to volunteer for thirty minutes each week in your child’s classroom. Or maybe you have only fifteen minutes to give on the last day of the school year. Or perhaps you can cook dinner on a Friday evening for a teacher friend. It doesn’t matter how small the task is. You’re showing that you care, and that will mean the world to a teacher.
Helene Segura is a former award-winning teacher turned organizing and productivity consultant who owns Living Order® San Antonio. Segura’s book, Less Stress for Teachers: More Time & An Organized Classroom, addresses the thinking behind how to overcome “the overwhelm” that teachers feel on a daily basis. It’s a thinking pathway that helps teachers bust through the emotional, psychological and organizational walls that prevent them from utilizing planners and other tools.
Readers of her book will learn:
- The 5 most critical areas to control
- To create time where educators thought it was impossible
- To manage email, paperwork, lesson plans and other tasks
- To set up a classroom in the most efficient way
- To lower teacher stress levels during the school day