A Day in the Life... of an English Teacher


I recently read an article in the Washington Post that talked about how many people don't really understand what teachers do. So many people think it's all about getting the summers off, a cozy retirement, union protection, and taking off at 3pm most days (although there are many that legitimately appreciate and respect the profession, and I thank those). Are there perks? Heck yes. Is it hard? Yes, if you're trying to do a good job (like any profession there are those that do not, I know). I think for me, teaching is the most demanding for three reasons: there is just so much to grade (1 essay = 4 minutes x one for every student = 400 minutes, or almost 7 hours), I think about the kids all the time (allowing them to email me at all hours of the day doesn't help), and the pressure in terms of adhering to policies and changes is constant.

I've been toying with this idea, a "day in the life" post, for awhile, part of me thinking it would be an interesting reflection piece, hopefully encourage others to do the same,* and allow me to take a a good, hard look at how I spend my time (I should do a follow-up one in a year to see how things look differently with an infant and job). The other part of me thinks it's self-indulgent and unnecessary. But then I remembered that's I write a book blog, not one on curing cancer. So, here we are! I hope you're prepared for how exciting my life is.

Prep for Monday on Saturday and Sunday:
- Aprx. 1 hour finishing lesson plans
- Aprx. 4 hours making an itty-bitty dent in my grading
- Aprx. 2 hours on yearbook edits  
- Aprx. 1 hour on letters of rec and answering emails (legitimate ones, not from the kids that are just being conversational)

5:50-6:30- Wake up, get ready, feed self and dogs (my first thoughts every day when the alarm goes off is some sort of profanity- I am not a morning person).

6:30-6:55- Commute (rock out to my normal mix of Rhianna, Led Zepplin, Lady Gaga and Tom Petty)

6:55-7:30- Enter the grades for the things I worked on yesterday. Answer the door for students that use my classroom as a closet during the day, leaving their sports bags and heavy textbooks. Reply to emails.

7:30-8:28 (first period)- I've given up my first period prep to help tutor students who are at risk for failing the high school exit exam for the next three weeks and today is the first day. We are paid an hourly rate for this, so it's not quite out of the goodness of my heart. I need a Fitbit and my baby needs [insert one of ten billion things here].

Generally, when I'm not doing this, I spend the fifty-eight minutes grading, copying, running to the ASB office on yearbook related tasks, planning, and answering emails. 

9:35-10:41 (second period)- I teach my AP students about a new type of essay that they're working on, the synthesis essay (and argumentative essay that requires them to evaluate different sources that they will incorporate into their writing as evidence). We read a few of the sources together and fill out a graphic organizer- they have the last ten minutes of the period to do one on their own. Over the course of the next week we'll "put the essay together" as a class before they're expected to start working on their own.

10:48-11:45 (third period)- My IB seniors come in and we work on in-depth character analysis for Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This is by far my most boisterous group (lovable 90% of the time), and they're super wound up today because they're starting some Spanish IB testing. The kids are divided into small groups and each receive a character that they are to become an "expert" on, based on some guiding questions I had already given them. After fifteen minutes of discussing and collaborating they walk around the room, filling in a graphic organizer based on quick interviews with other "experts" (whatever they don't get to his homework). The last five minutes of the period are spent on a quick character quiz with questions they should have addressed during the period ("Who is a foil for Okonkwo and why?" "Describe Ikemefuna and Nwoye's relationship and describe Okonkwo's perception of both characters"). I roam the room and make sure no one is doing work for other classes, copying straight from other peoples' notes, or are screwing around on their phones. They sound pretty smart today, so I tell them. They ask if they sound dumb the rest of the time and I shrug my shoulders and raise my eyebrows. We all love each other very much (joking aside, we actually sort of do).

11:53-11:51 (fourth period)- Yearbook starts off with me giving a stern lecture (I think I said the word "crap" a few times... obviously I mean business and am pretty pissed) on the fact that we have fourteen days until our final deadline and that they need to get it together. I pull up a couple of pages that have been half-assed and let the class know that whatever groups fail to meet their given deadlines with decent submission won't get anything better than a C- for the semester. Everyone gets to work and I start being nice again. I really, really hate being a hard-ass, but we're getting down to the wire and some of them have been slacking (it's like this every year and we pull it off, so I'm not too worried when push comes to shove). I spend the rest of the period editing pages, working with kids to improve and finalize what they've done, and emailing the yearbook plant to finalize the cover, which we've had a few rounds of edits on.

11:51-12:25- Lunch! Yup, we get less than forty minutes to ourselves. I have two friends that generally come eat in my room, which gives us an opportunity to talk to adults and complain as necessary.

12:33-1:31 (fifth period)- IB English again, so same as above.

1:38-2:36 (sixth period)- IB English again.

2:43-3:41 (seventh period)- I tutor for an extra period in the afternoon (I am paid at an hourly rate). 

3:45-4:20- Commute (listen to The Nerdist podcast with Christina Ricci, who is super weird and pretty awesome).

4:20-5:00- Feed dogs, have a snack, and sit on the couch reading blogs (I used to read my book but now get too sleepy after driving and eating... I blame the baby). Technically, this time is probably know as "dicking around."

5:00-5:30- Make the batter for the cookies I'm taking to tomorrow's staff meeting. Every time I bake I swear I'm going to not make a mess- it never happens. 

5:30-6:00- The dogs start glaring at me, as we're officially thirty minutes late for their walk, so we head out for a half an hour (I'm pretty proud to still be doing this at 30 weeks pregnant- we're talking 150+ pounds of dog, one of which who is scared constantly scared and the other who wants to investigate everything). I've been listening to A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and it's finally getting to the good part- she's been kidnapped in Somalia.

6:00-6:35- Hop on the treadmill for some more exercise (I try to get an hour, or 10,000 steps total, a day). I do a hill program while reading In Style, answering student emails on my phone, and looking at the Pinterest app. Do some brief, light weights.

6:35-7:15- Grade papers. 

7:15-8:00- Make dinner, clean up kitchen, may my lunch for tomorrow, eat once husband gets home at 7:45.

8:00-9:30- Bake cookies, grade more papers, answer student emails, write a letter of rec, attempt to spend time with husband.

9:30-10:30- Shower, read for a bit, go to sleep

Pretty typical, minus the cookies (usually I'd probably do some more reading or cleaning their place). I also don't always grade quite so much, but I'm a bit behind. I try to multi-task as much as possible and have a to-do list every afternoon (I know, control-freak much?). Once yearbook is wrapped up things will be a lot less stressful, but for the next two weeks I'm screwed 

Everyone is busy, no matter what career you choose, whether you have kids or dogs, live alone or are married. Teachers make it home an hour or two before everyone else, but most of us take a lot of work home with us. I know there are a lot of teachers who do more than I do at home, and some who do less. I think (?) I'm somewhere in the middle.

*Do it! Write one of your own! I think it would be awesome to read how other bloggers spend their time and handle their careers. Make sure to leave your link in your comments if you do, so we can all be nosy together. 


  1. I hope my kids get a teacher as dedicated as you. It's clear in reading this that you really love your job and your students are lucky for that!

  2. I'm going to do it. Like the misconceptions about teaching, I think people believe librarians get to sit around reading (or shelving books). Plus, it sounds like fun.

  3. I was thinking about doing a post like this. People need to know what it's really like being a teacher. I definitely have much more to grade in Middle school than Elementary but I couldn't imagine grading that load you have! You would probably need a full day to finish grading.....per week!

    I'll be doing this post soon. Thanks for letting us peek into your day. Oh and now I'm craving freshly baked cookies.

  4. Sorry if I bore you to tears - ha!