I’m writing to you because I never actually get the time to talk to you face to face. I wish I did; I know that if we worked more closely together, we could help your child progress quicker, become more confident, or be happier at school. I thought it might be helpful to give you an (accurate!) run down of my school day – so you can get an insight into what life is like for a teacher today and what happens when you walk back out through those school gates after drop off.
I’m up at six. I have seven pieces of work left to mark from last night and I need them for the lesson today. I finish up quick while wolfing down some toast and lug the bag of 30 books to the bus stop. On the bus, I check my emails and remember I need to fill in an observation form for the SENCO for a child in my class. I do this quick and nearly miss my stop.
I rush in past the reception, picking up the register, the lunch register and various memos that I don’t have time to read. The administrator calls after me that a parent called to speak to me last night but I was in a curriculum meeting. I need to speak to them so make a mental note to call back at lunch. Then I have ten minutes to get the classroom ready for the day before our staff meeting at 8:00. I need to turn the classroom into a forest for our English lesson so frantically scatter leaves and green paper around the room. Then I lay out the work for the morning, sort the computer, get all my resources ready and hotfoot it to the staff room. No time for a cuppa – damn!
Someone asks too many questions so the meeting finishes at 8:42. We have three minutes to get down to the playground before the bell rings. I have two parents I wanted to catch but know I won’t have time now. The class are lined up waiting for me and I look flustered. Walking backwards with the line snaking in front of me, I field questions from the kids about when the bear will be visiting the forest whilst trying to wave erratically to get the attention of one Mum and signal that that I’ll see her at the end of the day. She looks a bit confused.
A child in my class is upset and won’t leave Grandma to come into school. I want to go and comfort her but I don’t have a TA anymore so can’t leave my class alone. I ask her friend to try and see if she can help and send another child to the office to find a member of senior staff. I feel terrible but there’s nothing I can do.
In the classroom, there is a moment of calm. The kids whir away at their desks and there is a beautiful buzz of excitement about the day ahead. I breathe for what seems like the first time. We do English (bears in the forest), and spellings. Then I remember I’m taking the assembly today and desperately search for the power point while the kids line up. I notice that one child isn’t himself today and make a note to speak to Mum after school. I’m sure something’s going on but he’s not told me anything yet.
At break time I meet with another teacher to talk her through the next lesson and then set up the Maths apparatus. I sprint to the office, manage to leave a voicemail for one parent about an issue three days ago and make it back just as break finishes. A student in year 6 shouts ‘no running in the corridor’ as I dash past them.
Maths is great – the kids are loving investigating the length of their arms vs the height of their body. I dart between supporting those who are finding it tricky and stretching those who get it easily. One boy trips over a chair and gets a nosebleed. I call through to first aid but no-one is available so we deal with it in the classroom. I’m so lucky my class are really kind and respectful of each other. I don’t know how I would cope otherwise. I fill in the accident form and put it in his bag, praying it will be seen. He goes to after school club so I must remember to call Dad later.
The kids are late for lunch and the kitchen staff make their irritation known to me. I make a ‘sorry’ face and gulp back tears. I’m exhausted and this could send me over the edge! At lunch, I want to catch up with my colleague who got married at the weekend but she’s locked in a meeting about Ofsted and I have to get a school trip and homework sorted. I left my lunch in the fridge at home (standard) but manage to find a couple of stale biscuits in the empty staff room. Result!
After lunch, the supervisor tells me I need to sort out an altercation between two girls in my class and hands me an accident form for another one who caught her finger in a door. Three kids are desperate to tell me something of vital importance and outside the door, I can see the Ed Psych patiently waiting for her turn to see me. I settle the kids and speak to her in hushed whispers in the doorway about an assessment we have been waiting for for months. She needs to do it now but we have P.E. which isn’t ideal. I can’t swap the slots as the hall is timetabled to within an inch of its life but the kids will be devastated if we miss the session. I feel torn. In the end, she says she will give up her own time to come back later. Legend.
In our topic lesson, we have an amazing convo about whether there should be a carnival on our high street. The kids have such amazing ideas and I love how their little brains work. One pupil thinks the carnival might scare local dogs so the entire class decide that it isn’t a good idea!
It’s home time. I hate sending out homework that hasn’t been explained properly but it’s school policy. I spent most of my weekend trying to make sure that the work sent out would fit each child but I know that I haven’t done enough. Really, each child should have a different set of learning, tailored to them, but it’s just not feasible. I cringe as i imagine the arguments and tears that might occur around the kitchen table from the unsuitable worksheets we send out.
I try to grab as many parents as possible at the end of the day but I can’t leave the remaining children and some issues need to be discussed in private. Some parents are working, some kids have a club, some have to rush off and can’t wait to chat. I feel frustrated! I need to speak to one parent about a child’s unusual test results, two parents about the accidents that happened today, another parents about the Ed Psych assessment, two parents about the altercation at playtime and another about volunteering in class.
I have phonics training at another school so I think about calling the parents on my mobile on the journey but school policy says we can only call them from the office. Now I’ll be late for the training but if I don’t do it now, there will end up being lots of crossed wires and I’ll be thinking about it the whole weekend (as will they!). I make the calls, pack up my books to mark, get back on the bus and go to the training.
Home by 6, dinner, marking, bed. And I still didn’t manage to speak to all the parents I needed to.
I hope this might help you to understand why I might sometimes come across as rude, stressed or busy. I want you to know that I love teaching your child and wish we had more time to chat. I want you to know that I appreciate everything you do to support your child in school.
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