Weekend-Working Teachers: Just Wait

When I present at conferences and give in-school PD on the topics of grading, assessment, and/or planning, I like to share this slide that includes all the jobs I’ve held prior to (and during!) teaching:

One use of this slide is to show how I approach teaching as a job just like any typical worker would do. That is, when the work day is over, the work day is over. I effectively “punch out” of teaching at the end of the school day, and return to work on the next “shift,” no questions asked. I share this because most teachers are anything but your typical worker, which has significant implications. A lot of them go from one classroom as students themselves straight to another classroom as teachers with little to no experience in any other profession, perhaps besides college work study or a part time job in high school. Some are so fortunate that they never had to work before they began teaching. That means teaching the only example of work to many (most?). There’s a big problem with that…

The cultural expectation that teachers should be working after school is damaging, and something we gotta shake, now more than ever.

Sure, the world is burning right now, but overloading teachers with unreasonable expectations is going to lead to burnout real fast. Good luck with the entire education system if that happens en masse! But this isn’t a new symptom of the COVID-19 closure craze. It’s been there all along.

Granted, if teachers know there’s a choice, and happen to enjoy working on the weekend, there’s not much we can do about that. However, one unfortunate result of these weekend-working teachers is creating additional work for those who aren’t. That is, all of that weekend work has the potential to ruin someone else’s weekend (if that person checks their work email, or answers a phone call/text), or at least load up someone else’s Monday with some new task right away. Mondays don’t have to be that bad, folks!

Alternatively, if the weekend-working teachers were to just wait, they’d begin all those tasks during the work week like everyone else. This would distribute responsibilities more reasonably instead of expecting something from someone else overnight, like on Sunday. There’s also the possibility that postponing weekend work to the actual work week would mean never actually getting around to the weekend idea in the first place because, frankly, there’s enough to do as it is. Here’s a workflow we could start sharing with departments and admin:

  1. Got an idea over the weekend?
    • Type it up to get the ideas out, then move on.
  2. Want to share your idea?
    • Wait until Monday.
  3. Want immediate action?
    • Tough. The people you share your idea with have their own work to do. Your idea might have to wait, if others can get to it at all.
  4. Need people to complete a task for Monday?
    • It’s gotta be finished by Friday afternoon, then. This likely means getting the task to them by Thursday morning. If it’s already the weekend, start back at the top with #1.

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