Is it possible for teachers to have weekends free?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by yellowdaisies, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Is there anyone out there who DOESN'T work weekends? My absolute dream is to actually have both weekend days free. Right now, I'm typically working about 4-5 hours on Sundays, and sometimes more. I *HATE* it. It's terrible for my attitude towards work and my work/life balance. I don't have kids, but I'd like to spend time with my husband, read a book, and just enjoy life for a couple days!

    If you do it, HOW do you do it? I am looking for any ideas and inspiration! I have to believe it's possible.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Sure. Just... don't do it. All weekend I've had grading to do, and plans to write for the week, and it will all still be there for me Monday. I've stopped doing work on the weekend outside of report card season, because there's nothing that needs to get done that badly. It's not a matter of efficiency, it's just making priorities. Spending time with my family is a higher priority than work, so all that stuff I need to do will wait until Monday. If that means some graded work takes an extra day to get back to school, or a couple of my lessons aren't as super-exciting as they might have been... well, I'm confident they'll all still go to college one day.
     
  4. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I agree. You just have to make a conscious effort to not do anything. I stay an hour past contract time every day, and arrive about 30 minutes early as well. I try to use my planning time (45 min 4 times a week) the best I can.

    Figure out the must-dos, think hard about the would like to dos (is it something that will directly benefit your kids), and worry about the rest as you get to it. I make a priority list each Monday morning to keep me focused for the week.
     
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  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I don't work on weekends.
     
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  6. ChildWhisperer

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    I don't work weekends either. If I do, it's less than an hour.
    I arrive 45 minutes before the kids arrive & stay an hour after the kids leave to get work done M-F.
    BUT I work with younger kids & I don't have to grade anything so I guess my case is different!
     
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  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Perhaps some day... :/
     
  8. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    I'm so tired of the extra hours that I'm making an escape plan. However, I truly believe this is an individual by individual thing. I could never walk in on a Monday and develop a plan in an hour. I have a colleague brand-new to the profession and he quite literally has never taken work home. Some can make it work...I'm not one of them...
     
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  9. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    When I was a classroom teacher, I occasionally worked on weekends, but I didn't let it consume my time. During the week, I was at school an hour early and often stayed another 30-40 minutes afterwards. Sometimes I would do some cutting or browse Pinterest for ideas on a rainy afternoon, but that kind of stuff is FUN for me. I NEVER EVER work on Sundays. It's a day of rest. I had to learn to let some stuff go. My students never suffered for it; in fact they were likely better off because Monday morning they had a refreshed, relaxed teacher who was ready to jump back into a full week.
     
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  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I haven't worked most weekends in the past couple of years (my first few years teaching, I did work weekends). I think there are a lot of factors which may or may not be in a teacher's control, including just how efficient/quickly you work, how much planning time is provided at school, and how many requirements your school has.

    For me everything just lines up correctly. I process/work very quickly. A couple of years ago I started doing lesson plans by the day (so I plan Tuesday on Monday, etc.) which I know sounds crazy to some people but it really works for me. I can really plan based on what the students responded to or didn't respond to the previous day, so not only are my lessons better but I'm also never wasting time going back to tweak things as they week goes on. I think everyone just works at their own pace. My dad has the same job as me with about 1/3 the number of students I have, and he has worked 60-80 hours per week his entire career. He is just a very slow/methodical processer. Things that take me 10 minutes would take him 2 hours.

    As far as requirements, my school doesn't make us turn in lesson plans, so I just have a regular plan book with bullet points that probably makes sense to no one else but me. If I had to write detailed plans to turn in, of course that would make a huge difference. I also don't spend time on dog and pony show lessons or cutesy props/decorations. When I first started teaching I thought that everything had to be "game-like" or super "fun" in order for kids to learn. Over the years I've learned that my kids are actually most successful and engaged when there are clear routines and structures, which also makes planning much easier. Most of the "decorations" in my room are student work and/or anchor charts we've created together in class. I also just make the most of every minute I have at school. I don't spend planning times chatting or socializing, and I work during most of my lunch. I bring my laptop and/or plan book along to meetings and complete work while I wait for the meeting to get started. Personally, I have a big social circle outside of school. I like it that way and I am not that interested in making close friends with coworkers, so I spend my time at work working.

    I also have a pretty decent amount of planning time provided at school, which I know not all teachers have. We have a 50 minute plan period 4 days per week plus a 50 minute lunch. I also have 30 minutes of "contract time" before school and after school (duty twice a week, but only for 15 minutes of that). We do have an 8 hour contract, so that's part of the before/after school time (I've learned on this board that apparently most teachers don't have full 8 hour contracts).
     
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  11. 4815162342

    4815162342 Companion

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    When i was a classroom teacher, i did. Either prepping stuff for centers or grading papers or lesson plans.
    This year, i dont do lesson plans or grade papers because I'm not a general ed teacher anymore. I love it.
     
  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I've never understood what teachers actually do when working weekends. What the heck needs to be done that takes so many hours?
     
  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I refuse to bring work home with me. Ever.

    If, for some reason, I absolutely must get something done at work--I'll go on Saturday morning prior to my BF waking up (generally, between 6-7 am). Those times are few and far between, though.
     
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  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I haven't done anything on the weekends or even at home during the week since school started (almost 2 months). Friday evenings I either go out and then Saturday morning through Sunday I've been going hunting, or start the whole thing Friday afternoon.
    As a result I have to do everything during the week at school. This has been hard but only because I've taken on additional commitments (for more money) and I have to take my daughter to practice driving and then take her to her evening college classes 3 times / week. Then I try to go for a walk, or to the gym, and ten rush to pick her up.
    I have been exhausted !!! I don't sleep enough, I feel like I'm always on the go. I haven't slept-in for 2 months. I actually called in for tomorrow, and didn't do too much this weekend. I caught up on sleeping, and for the first time I brought some things home to grade. I have a lot more waiting for me at school.

    But, it can be done. After this semester, my daughter won't have evening classes and she will be driving, and I will drop down from 3 days to 2 days / week for after school students.
    I have a student TA in my last period, so I utilize her to make all my copies, and had her start grading. Saves me a couple of hours work per week.
     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I used to plan my week ahead on Sunday afternoons. I would have everything done through Wednesday and then I'd just have to plan ahead during the week. This wasn't always every week, I got better at doing it during the week for the upcoming week.
    But, to answer your question, I often had downtime during the weekend, so why not spend a few hours on something that needs to be done, and during the week it's so hard to find the time? When I have to grade essays, they take longer, and I don't want to take a whole week.
     
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  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Last year, I spent very little time on weekends, but I had a lot of lunch and plan time. Plus my classes were really easy to plan for, and I could pretty much plan day-by-day. This year, I'm still doing a lot of work on weekends... I haven't had a free weekend yet, and we're nearing the end of first quarter. I think a big piece of this is that I'm new to the school. So, everything takes me longer to wrap my mind around because it's all new to me. Plus, I'm just a detail-orientated, borderline OCD type of person, so everything always takes me longer than it takes anyone else... but my work is usually better. ;-) I've just come to accept this part about my personality, and I know to give myself extra time on many things. I do plan to eventually get down to less than a couple of hours, if that, on a weekend, but I know that will come as I get things figured out at my new school. I've finally started leaving early on weekdays... I was putting in hours into the afternoon/evening, but I made a choice to drop that and start going to the gym again. As has been said, it's all personal preference and priorities. I decide what works for me, and I don't let others make me feel bad either way (if I want to put in long hours, I will, without guilt. If I want to leave right after the bell and do nothing on weekends, I will, without guilt. Usually, I'm somewhere in between.).
     
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  17. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I love these replies! I'm glad to hear it is possible!

    I'm hoping that by going in at 7am every day, 30 min before contract time, I can get a lot done before school starts at 8:30 (8:10 the days I have duty). I also have two 55 minute preps back to back first thing Monday mornings (very weird specials schedule, haha). I'm going to try staying later (between 5:00 and 5:30) on Mondays and leaving by 4:00 the other days. My contracted hours are 7:30-3:30, and I'm with kids 8:30-3:15. I'm hoping that a combination of all those things, along with making a to do list for each day and prioritizing what actually is necessary, will help in the long run.

    This is my third year in my grade level and at this school, so I'm thinking if I can do it, it should be this year. The longer I teach (this is my fifth year), the more I'm realizing I need my life to not BE teaching, and I need my weekends to recharge. The first year or two it was so different - I didn't even mind working long hours and every day of the week - but I think it's set in that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and I have to be able to be in this for the long haul. Self preservation techniques are required!
     
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  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I get a 30 minute prep MAYBE once a week so I have to budget my time. I arrive early but try not to stay too late. I do go to school sometimes one Sunday a month to do things like make copies, print materials and laminate things. Those things are just easier for me to do in an empty building. I only bring work home in extreme cases.
     
  19. jadorelafrance

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    I always work from home on weekends and evenings, otherwise it wouldn't get done or I'd be a really boring teacher! It's my 8th year too. I just have so much grading and prep. I have four preps this year (HS) and one is brand new. They're all upper levels, so the grading takes much longer. I try and do research and find things online to incorporate into my classroom (authentic videos/articles) to make my lessons more innovative and I just got a new smartboard that I'm learning to use.
    Personally I don't know how anyone gets it all done at work. Most of my colleagues work from home too. Our admin also has put a lot of demands on us that take up our time too. I'm very efficient at work and have ample plan time, but it's not enough. I do only stay contract hours and I actually prefer doing more of my prep at home where I'm alone and it's quiet. I don't let it take over my life though and still spend lots of time with my friends and boyfriend. I only dedicate a few hours on the weekend to work and maybe an hour or two in the evenings.
     
  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I don't bring work home on weekdays, and I only do weekend work for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon.
     
  21. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    This weekend, I pretty much didn't do work at home. I DID have to write lesson plans, but just finish them up. I'd say it took me about 20 minutes to finish and submit.

    How many papers are you grading per week? Depending on what you're currently doing, that may be a place to cut back. Students don't need everything graded.

    I also try to stay about an hour late on Fridays, use my time effectively (which is sometimes hard for me), and work on what I'd otherwise take home. I do also usually stay late 1 or 2 other days a week. But for me, it's worth it to have a clear mind on the weekends.
     
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  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have never come in for the weekend. Occassionally I will bring home correcting to do (it's always better with Netflix) but this is maybe once a month.

    However, I'm pretty luck to have a great prep time schedule.
     
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  23. linswin23

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    I REFUSE to do work on the weekends now. I have things I should be doing, but I won't anymore. I want and need my time!
     
  24. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Plus, and this is getting a little philosophical here, I feel that it just sets an unreachable standard. If most teachers are working 60 hours a week, that becomes the accepted norm, and then it's just what's expected. I really feel that what's expected of a teacher should be able to be accomplished during the 40-hour workweek.
     
  25. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    EXACTLY.
     
  26. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Personally, I don't think a bit more than 40 hours per week is unacceptable. I mean, most professional careers out there require going above and beyond 40 hours. However, I think that more than 50 (or 60 in a really busy week, like conferences) is a bit outrageous... I definitely think that more planning time needs to included in the work day for teachers, but I'm okay with having to work more than 40 hours. What is currently being asked of most teachers, though, is just too much. We can't do everything we are required to do and still do it all well, even when we are willing to put in extra hours. We all have our personal limit of extra hours that we are willing to put in, so we just stop when we've had enough. But, really, how many of us wouldn't like to improve our practice by reducing our face time with students and having more time to better learn our content and create more engaging lessons that better reach varying student needs? I'm thinking most of us wouldn't mind putting in the extra hours if we really felt that it improved our practice AND if it was still within a reasonable limit.
     
  27. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'm realizing this too, and it's weighing on me so heavily, and making me beyond scared, about having a kid because of the worry about juggling both, especially given I'm still doing 7am-7pm+, and then some work from home on the weekends. :/
     
  28. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Personally, I found a much better work/life balance once I had kids. I became much more efficient at school because I wanted to focus on family at home.
     
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  29. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I take all of Sunday off and Saturday night off, but I often get a lot of school work done Saturday morning. That allows me to enjoy most of the rest of the weekend. I do sometimes do no work all weekend and get out of town. I do pay for it a bit the next week. For me Sunday off energizes me, but both Saturday and Sunday off can leave me with too much work come Monday.

    One thing that can help is get rid of all Friday testing. I give tests on Thursdays and grade the papers on Thursday afternoon or night. I almost never grade a paper on the weekend. Look to see what you are doing on Sunday and see if you can get it done during the week. I think you can get closer to your goal.
     
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  30. RubberRoad

    RubberRoad Rookie

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    I used to work weekends and stay late at school every day. Now that I have a family I can't. It's that simple. I CANT put in that extra time because my family needs me.

    What makes it possible is primarily a shift in my attitude toward grading. I don't "grade" anymore. I assess. I assess students only for key standards. An assessment might be a two question math exit ticket at the end of a lesson that takes 5 minutes to administer and that takes me three minutes to sort into piles (who got it, who didn't) for my differentiated math groups the next day. That's my formative assessment. Or, I might assess student understanding via hand signals (thumbs up or down), partner pair share, or via whole class discussion.

    Summative assessments are rare and short (20 questions). I have high school volunteers grade them- usually three per trimester for ELA and math. Report cards are only based on summative assessments - not homework or class work.

    Students correct their own homework and class work assignments in class.
     
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  31. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    I still sometimes bring work or grading home in evenings or on weekends, and I don't know why because I rarely crack it open. I do still respond to an occasional email from a parent or boss over the weekend/in evenings, but these are also rare. I'm more efficient and happier in my job if I leave work at work, and I'll go in early or stay late to make this happen. I do go to workshops sometimes on Saturdays, but this is my choice and helps me to be better at what I do.
     
  32. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I think you just described what is professional right here. Generally (and perhaps ideally) professionals have more than a "just a job" interest in their careers. They will give it some time and thought off the clock. And I daresay this is good, very good. Yes, I would say it's professional to donate some time away from the typical hours to your career.

    What is NOT professional, however, is creating an expectation of extreme extra unpaid hours and a condemning of anyone who doesn't follow the 80-hour unpaid workweek.
     
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  33. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I feel bad for saying I almost never work on weekends, but I do have a built-in 8-5 day Monday-Thursday (we usually pack up around 3 on Fridays).
     
  34. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I usually work on Saturday mornings. It's rather nice actually, I bring my work to a nice coffee shop and am able to focus pretty well. It's relaxing and fun for me.
     
  35. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    That sounds just charming.
     
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  36. MsAbeja

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    I would take Saturday morning at a coffee shop with my school work over the chaos that is my home, any day. For sure.

    A typical Saturday morning includes my 6 year old saying "what are we doing today? I'm bored!" at least eleventy billion times before 9 AM, my 3 year old pouring water all over herself (and the bathroom, and the kitchen table, and some delicate electronic device,) and the baby attempting to ingest something that is either poisonous or a choke hazard, and then screaming bloody murder when I dare take it away from him. And this is all before I manage to take a sip of coffee.

    I'm sorry, what were we talking about again?
     
  37. FourSquare

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    I could. I have. I used to come at 6:30am, stay until 6:30pm, and then go in for 4 hrs on Sunday.

    I just stopped.

    I still go in early, but now it's 7:30am. And I leave at 4pm. I get the mandated things done and I ignore the other things.

    Here's why:
    1. In 6 years I've found that my over-planned stuff sometimes bombs and my hastily thrown together lessons are AWESOME.
    2. I've learned that a bunch of "required" things aren't really required and nobody's going to notice if I do extra work.
    3. Our profession is incredibly disrespected regardless of your effort.
    4. The kids appreciate a balanced and rested teacher. I have more to give them if I take care of ME.
    5. Once my life was 100% teaching and I frankly became interested in other things.
    It's definitely possible. The work was never done when I was putting in 6 days a week, and it isn't done now. The kids survive. I'm really really trying to let go of being perfect and being everyone's everything. It's the only way to last a career.
     
  38. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    This drives me up a wall, because it's so true...
     
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  39. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Also, too, I have been thinking a lot about how much we get paid. I love teaching, but for the amount we get paid I shouldn't be working a 50-60 hour week. No thanks.
     
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  40. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    This is what I've been thinking too. I know this varies across the country; but teachers in my city barely make a livable wage. If they want us to do all of these "extras," they need to pay a salary that matches the amount of work we're being asked to do. If I'm not going to get the benefit of an even semi "comfortable" salary as a professional with a Master's degree, then I'm going to take the benefit of a 40-45 hour workweek with many vacations/breaks that I don't work during.
     
  41. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    EXACTLY. If we were actually compensated for our extra work we would make BANK.
     

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