Your children may already be at school or they'll be on their way in a few short years. Lots of parents speak openly at the relief of dropping their little ones off at the school gates, but give little thought to the schedule of the professional that our children are being handed over to.
You may have seen the nationalised campaign recently to remind us to thank our midwives, well, teachers are up there with one of the most undervalued and underestimated job roles in our society.
Due to the necessity of professionalism, the average parent is never really able to get to know teachers thoughts, until now!
I've asked 5 questions to a UK Primary school teacher and mum to two (who happens also to be my sister).
She completed her training 6 Years ago and has kindly answered my questions to tell parents:
Things a Primary School Teacher wishes parents knew.
What is the biggest misconception about teaching at a Primary School?
That the working day is from 9am until 3pm. Not once in my teaching career have I been able to start work at 9am and finish at 3pm! These hours are more like the beginning and end time of the main performance (teaching the children).
There are usually two hours before of setup and as many as four, five and even six hours after 3pm when I will be hurrying to clean up following the 'Main Performance'. Then I will be marking 30+ childrens workbooks- a quick tick and cross isn't sufficient- we have to write unique goals for improvement for each exercise.
In the evening we are planning 5 different lessons for the following day and creating the resources for each of them. Then we get to deliver an entirely new performance tomorrow from those plans!
Other considerations to our workload are that one lesson plan (each day requires five for maths, english, science etc) is not suitable for every child in a group of 30 children. We will have to create multiple plans and resources of the same lesson but adapted for the children who do not speak English, and then another lesson plan for the lower ability children in the class, plus some extension activities for the higher level children who will finish the task more quickly.
This is the bare minimum daily workload for most Primary School teachers. Our workload continues into half terms and the 'holidays' where we can be found at School, in our classroom, trying to get a head start before the children are back at their desks.
Did you also have this misconception before applying for training?
A little bit. Though I knew that my working hours would extend beyond 9am-3pm, I didn't anticipate the sheer volume of work and how unrelentless it would be.
There is no such thing as a quieter day than usual. All five daily lessons need to get the most from each child.
Our lesson plans are scrutinised by managers, as is our marking and lesson delivery through classroom observations to ensure that our teaching meets a set criteria to really stimulate and engage each child through modern teaching methods.
I loved primary school as a child, so had made the connection in my mind that I wanted to work in one. I know that sounds a bit naive as going to Primary School as a child and teaching in one as an adult are quite different!
What is a myth about teaching that you wish you could dispel?
Our job is like a babysitter. The reality is that we are under increased pressure from authoratative bodies, we have targets to meet like in any corporate environment, lots of paperwork, after hours team meetings, as well as ensuring that I am meeting the educational and emotional needs every child in a class of 30.
It's a constant balancing act. As in many other sectors, Primary School Teachers are spinning a lot of plates in any one working day.
What is PSA that you'd like to make to all parents of young children?
Don't do your childrens projects for them.
If we've asked your child to make a castle, it's extremely awkward for teachers to be presented with a miraculous castle that we are sure that your 5 year old wasn't even allowed to touch.
I understand, parents genuinely think that we want to see the worlds best castle model. But in all honesty, nothing makes us cringe more than knowing that the parents have taken out a small loan for WHSmiths craft supplies and completed the project themselves. All we can do as teachers is say "Oh Wow! Look at that..." Knowing that no learning has taken place by the child, that they haven't gone through the process of problem solving and creativity, and have gotten nothing out of it.
Based on the proud looks on parents faces when they present their handiwork, I know that they really believe that they are doing the best for their child, but if anything the child has only learnt that "mummy/daddy can make a castle better than I could have." It's not the biggest parenting crime of the century, but please believe us, we are ecstatic to display the castles that look like they were made by 5 year olds with odds and ends, rather than pristine models which frankly, look out of place.
Tell us something that most Primary School Teachers have in common?
You have got to have a sense of humour for the job! Children come out with the craziest and funniest lines so we have a lot of laughs in the classroom. We are generally not a straight laced bunch and love to share amazing quotes from our children in the staff room.
I would love to know if you learnt anything from this close encounter with a Primary School Teacher and if any teachers reading this can relate or would like to add something. Leave a comment or drop me an email using the 'Contact Us' form