Four different people said that to me on Friday when I returned to my classroom after summer break and it got me thinking, “What exactly is my job?”
When I came into my classroom after the break, I knew that there was going to be a mess because they (contractors from outside the district) were installing a new server system and wiring. However, what I found was worse than I expected. All of my furniture was in one pile in the middle of the room and everything was taken off of my walls including every chalkboard! I’m a pretty good size man at 6’2 and 200 lbs and I don’t mind doing some heavy lifting but there were things that I could not do on my own. We usually have about 5 males at my site at a time between the teachers and the custodial staff. This day we had about 20 because a rush work order was put in to help get our school ready for the first day. I asked someone to help me move a file cabinet. He told me that was not his job and that he could only hang boards on the wall. So I took everything out of the cabinet and slide it across the floor myself. Another group of people came in to clean my desks. I asked them to help me unstack the desks so they could clean them and they told me that it was not their job to move things. They left and didn’t return until I had everything down. The final straw occurred when 3 custodians walked by me while I was dragging a 20 foot chalkboard and they just walked by. I asked them if they could help and I was told they were too busy.
What took me almost ten hours on my own could have been accomplished in less than 40 minutes with a bit of help. That was 9 hours that I could have been writing lesson plans for my new students or planning assessments. I could have looked at the data that I received and begun getting things ready for my students.
Then I started thinking about all of the time that I spend doing the busy work of my teaching job: making copies, stapling papers, cutting out decorations, bulletin boards, monitoring duties, filling out forms. etc. What if I started saying, “Sorry. That’s not my job. I’m only supposed to teach.” Do you think schools would hire someone else to do some of these things? What if they did? What if a small amount was set aside in the budget to hire someone to do all of the busy work that teachers have to do? What is the best thing for me to spend my time and attention on at work? It’s student achievement. That’s my main job. How much would it increase if I was able to spend all of my time at school focusing on that?
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