What Teachers Do Beyond the Classroom When No One is Looking

beyond the classroom
sdominick/Creative RF/Getty Images

Many people believe that teachers have an easy job in part because they have the summers off and multiple days off for several holidays.  The truth is that teachers spend almost as much time working when students are gone as they do when students are in class.  Teaching is more than 8-3 job. Good teachers stay at school late into the evening, continue to work once they get home, and spend hours on the weekend preparing for the upcoming week.

  Teachers often do amazing things beyond the classroom when no one is looking.

Teaching is not a static job where you leave everything at the door and pick it back up the next morning.  Instead, teaching follows you wherever you go. It is a continuous mindset and state of mind that is rarely turned off. Teachers are always thinking about their students. Helping them learn and grow consumes us. It causes us to lose sleep sometimes, stresses us at others, yet provides us joy constantly.  What teachers truly do is not completely understood by those outside of the profession. Here we examine twenty critical things that teachers do once their students are gone that makes a significant impact.  This list only offers some insight into what teachers do once their students leave and is not comprehensive.

Actively Participate on a Committee

Most teachers set on various decision-making committees throughout the school year.

For example, there are committees in which teachers help formulate a budget, adopt new textbooks, craft new policies, and hire new teachers or principals.  Sitting on these committees can require a lot of extra time and effort, but give the teachers a voice in what is happening within their school.

Attend Professional Development or Faculty Meeting

Professional development is an essential component of teacher growth and improvement. It provides teachers with new skills they can take back to their classroom.  Faculty meetings are another requirement held several times throughout the year to allow collaboration, present new information, or simply to keep teachers up-to-date.

Breaking Down Curriculum and Standards

Curriculum and standards come and go. They are cycled through every few years.  This ever revolving door requires teachers to break down the new curriculum and standards they are required to teach constantly. This is a tedious, yet necessary process in which many teachers dedicate hours to conducting.

Clean Up and Organize Our Classrooms

A teacher’s classroom is their second home, and most teachers want to make it comfortable for themselves and their students. They spend countless hours cleaning, organizing, and decorating their classrooms.

Collaborate with Other Educators

Building relationships with other educators are essential. Teachers spend a lot of time exchanging ideas and interacting with one another.  They understand what each other are going through and bring a different perspective that can help solve even the most difficult of situations.

Contact Parents

Teachers call email and message parents of their students continuously.  They keep them up-to-date on their progress, discuss concerns, and sometimes they just call to build rapport.  Additionally, they meet face-to-face with parents at scheduled conferences or whenever a need arises.

Extrapolate, Examine, and Utilize Data to Drive Instruction

Data drives modern education. Teachers recognize the value of data. When they assess their students, they study the data, looking for patterns, along with individual strengths and weaknesses. They tailor lessons to meet the needs of their students based on this data.

Grade Papers/Record Grades        

Grading papers is time-consuming and tedious. Though it is necessary, it is one of the most boring parts of the job.  Once everything has been graded, then they must be recorded in their gradebook.

  Thankfully technology has advanced where this part is much easier than it once was.

Lesson Planning

Lesson planning is an essential part of a teacher’s job.  Designing a week’s worth of great lessons can be challenging.  Teachers must examine their state and district standards, study their curriculum, plan for differentiation, and maximize the time they have with their students.

Look for New Ideas on Social Media or Teacher Websites

The Internet has become a focal point for teachers. It is a valuable resource and tool full with new and exciting ideas. Social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, & Twitter also allows a different platform for teacher collaboration.

Maintain a Mind of Improvement

Teachers must have a growth mindset for themselves and their students. They must always be searching for the next great thing. Teachers must not become complacent. Instead, they must maintain a mind of improvement constantly studying and looking for ways to improve.

Make Copies

Teachers can spend what seems like an eternity at the copy machine.  Copy machines are a necessary evil that becomes even more frustrating when there is a paper jam. Teachers print all sorts of things such as learning activities, parent information letters, or monthly newsletters.

Organize and Oversee School Fundraisers

Many teachers conduct fundraisers to fund things such as equipment for their classrooms, a new playground, field trips, or new technology.  It can be a taxing endeavor to count and receipt all of the money, tally and submit the order, and then distribute all of the merchandise when it comes in.

Plan for Differentiation

Every student is different. They come with their own unique personalities and needs. Teachers must continuously think about their students, and how they can help each one. It takes a lot of time and effort to accurately tailor their lessons to accommodate each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Review Instructional Strategies

Instructional strategies are a critical component of effective teaching.

  New instructional strategies are being developed all the time.  Teachers must familiarize themselves with a wide variety of strategies to meet each of their student’s needs. Strategies that work well for one student or class may not necessarily work for another.

Shop for Classroom Activities and/or Student Needs

Many teachers invest hundreds to thousands of dollars out of their own pocket for materials and supplies for their classroom every year.  They also purchase materials such as clothing, shoes, and food for needy students.  Naturally, it takes time to go to the store and grab these items.

Study New Educational Trends and Research

Education is trendy. What is popular today, likely will not be popular tomorrow. Likewise, there is always new education research that can be applied to any classroom. Teachers are always studying, reading, and researching because they do not want to miss an opportunity to improve themselves or their students.

Support Extra-Curricular Activities

Many teachers double as coaches or sponsors of extra-curricular activities. Even if they do not draw an extra-duty assignment, it is likely that you will see several teachers in the audience at events. They are there to support and cheer on their students.

Volunteer for Extra-Duty Assignments

There are always opportunities for teachers to assist in other areas around the school. Many teachers volunteer their time to tutor struggling students. They keep gate or concession at athletic events. They pick up trash on the playground. They are willing to help out in any area of need.

Work Another Job

As you can see from the list above, a teacher’s life is already very busy, yet many work a second job. This is often out of necessity. Many teachers simply do not make enough money to support their family.  Working a second job cannot help but impact a teacher’s overall effectiveness.