Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Typical Day

Since, I work in a private school, I've gotten a few questions about my schedule or how large my classes are. A lot of it is the same. Some of it is different. Here is my basic private school run-down.

1. Private school teachers typically make less than public school teachers. For real. Even though students pay, this tuition has to supply everything from furniture to rent for the building etc. Sometimes this means the teachers are less qualified and/or don't have a teaching degree. But, in my experience, most of the teachers I have worked with in private school have been required to be just as qualified as public school teachers.

2. We usually have smaller classes. Mine range from 15-20 students. I get to do things because of smaller class sizes that I couldn't always do in a public school.

3. I get to "justify" my expenses. I'm not given a budget, and I have to argue/cajole/justify what I want. . .But, I get excellent work out of my students. . .So, typically I get to spend what I ask.

4. Some private schools supply their students with all necessary materials (including pencils and paper). Mine does this. But, as a teacher, you often run out before you are able to re-order. So, that means that YOU end up purchasing notebook paper and pencils for wealthy private school kids. Also, there are no wall-mounted pencils sharpeners in my school, and there is no place on order forms for an electric pencil sharpener. A lot of teachers have to buy their own. I bullied for mine.

5. We have "interesting" populations. Parents are willing to pay for their child's elementary/middle/high school education for several reasons:

1) Their child is "different" in some way that they feel a smaller class/school can aid (this could be a severe allergy, giftedness, and/or some other sort of defined different ability).

2) Parents want to think their child is "different," "special" or "misunderstood" (this usually means the parent is dodging some kind of psychological testing that would be required on the public school level and/or they are in denial about who their kid really is).

3) the local public schools are dangerous and/or not challenging enough (I've NEVER worked in an area where I felt that the public schools couldn't provide exactly what the private school provides).

4) the parents are snobs and don't want their kids in school with public school riff-raff (I hope you note my sarcasm).

6. We offer education as part of our customer service package. Parents pay a lot of money for their kids to attend private school. They expect results. Results are expected even when parents aren't reinforcing education at home and/or helping with homework (I mean, hey, that is what they are paying us for right?). Parents are our customers, and we need to keep our customers happy to keep enrollment up. So, sometimes (often) I find myself in a moral dilemma about how best to deal with a situation that might make a parent profoundly unhappy (like hearing their kid is exhibiting behaviors that lead other teachers, the counselor, and myself to believe that psychological testing might be best, because I've never encountered a private school parent who believed what they heard in this instance. Most often, they remove their child and/or insist that nothing changes). If no kids attend, there is no school. In my opinion, this can really lead to some murky ethical conclusions. . .

7. We deal with FAR less behavior problems. Soo many sweet kids from really loving homes. Seriously. Wow. Classroom management is a breeze. But, when you do have an issue, watch-out! The student is rarely at fault, because remember, the parents are our customers.

8. Parties!! Is it the 5oth day of school? Awesome! Let's have a party!! Sometimes this is fun, sometimes it grows old. Mostly, it rules.

9. Holidays! Ramadan, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Easter, Passover, Halloween, Thanksgiving. Oh yeah, we get to CELEBRATE them all. Which, I love!

10. Holiday Gifts. Wow. Wow. Wow. We get AMAZING gifts from the parents at holiday time. I get so many restaurant gift certificates that I usually re-gift them to my friends!

And even though it changes everyday, here is (time-wise) a typical daily schedule for me (wherever you see "overlaps with" that means I am teaching 2 classes at the same time in the same room):

8:00-8:53 High School Art (2 students)
8:20-8:50 Pre-K 4 year old art (18 students and they usually leave 5-10 minutes late)

9:00-10:00 3rd grade art (16 students)

10:06-10:59 8th grade art (18 students)

11:00-11:55 High School Art (4 students)
11:25-11:55 Kindergarten Art (18 students)

11:55-12:10 Planning (Yup, 15 minutes -providing no one is late/early)

12:10-12:55 5th grade Art (2 classes simultaneously in a room designed for 20: 36 students)

12:55-1:20 Planning (Yup, 25 minutes -providing no one is late/early)

1:20-1:50 2nd grade Art (12 students)
1:26-2:19 Advanced High School Art (2 students)

2:23-3:15 High School Art (4 students)
2:25-3:10 6th grade Art (2 classes simultaneously in a room designed for 20: 36 students)

There isn't much room for peeing and/or eating. I stay a lot of afternoons, and work every second of the day. I'm sure you can relate!

What is my grading like? Similar to yours! But, I do have to leave a lot more personable comments because of the customer service/private school thing. These comments need to be specific to the child and reflect his/her classroom experience specifically and should be 3-4 sentences in length. For instance, this past grading period (which is every 4 1/2 weeks in my school 'cause parents like that) I had 17 pages of handwritten notes for students in grades Pre-K through 6th, and I had to write a comment for every student I teach in 7th-12th grade (48 students). That is a lot of writing to do on a near-monthly basis!!

What is your daily structure like?


  1. I'm on a schedule committee, so it really helps. A typical day starts with three 40 minute classes with 5 minutes in between, from 8:30 to 10:40. Usually the first two, or all three, are the same grade level. Then 15 minutes prep, and every day I have a 6th grade from 11:00-11:40. Then lunch and a little prep mixed in with either 4th or 5th graders coming to CReatE - notice the word EAT is inside the word CREATE. They bring lunch to the art room, 20 of them each day. Then starting at 1pm I have one or two more classes, possibly two different grade levels. And maybe some 6th graders during study hall. My day officially ends at 3pm but I am frequently (usually) in school much later, often to 5 or 6pm. People notice my car in the parking lot (because it is covered with flowers and dragonflies) and wonder if I sleep in the school. We are a small public school, 600 kids PreK-12, and most of my classes range between 15 to 23 kids. Pretty good.

    As for holidays, we do it all too. Even though it's not politically correct, we still hold the annual Halloween parade in the gym, complete with many gory costumes. We do have some kids who don't celebrate holidays, they are the minority. The student body and local community is predominantly Christian. Classroom teachers get all the gifts, and I rarely get any, but the mom who runs the local Ice Cream Parlor/gift shop in Chestertown always sends in some yummy chocolates or other equally calorific gift for me.
    A lot of our kids come from very poor families, families with limited resources, with little or nothing. Lots of non-traditional family strucutres. The school feeds them breakfast and lunch. Since we are a public school, we get all the discipline challenges but art isn't too bad because all the kids love to there.

  2. I've been doing some Googling for art teacher blogs and just stumbled on yours today.

    I teach K-5 art in a public school in Madison, WI. My schedule differs daily.

    Mon: 7:55-8:55 4th gr,
    8:55-9:55 5th grade 9:55-10:55 5th grade 10:55-11:30 lunch, 11:30-12:30 3rd grade, 12:30-1 prep. School ends at 1pm each Monday for teachers to take 1-3:15 to collaborate and plan together. How cool is that?

    Tues: 8:55-9:55 4th grade, 9:55-10:55 5th grade, 10:55-11:55 5th grade. 11:55-1 clean-up/lunch/travel to 2nd school (30min)/prep, 1-2 K/1 grade, 2-3 2/3 grade.

    Wed: 7:55-8:55 4th grade, 8:55-9:55 4th grade, 9:55-10:55 prep, 10:55-11:55 5th grade, 11:55-12:30 lunch, 12:30-1:30 3rd grade, 1:30-2:30 3rd grade

    Thurs: 7:20-7:50 morning duty, 7:55-8:55 4th grade, 8:55-11:30 prep/lunch (yep, 2.5 hrs : ) ), 11:30-12:30 3rd grade, 12:30-1:30 more prep!, 1:30-2:30 3rd grade.

    Fri: 8:45-9:45 4/5 grade, 9:45-10:15 prep, 10:15-11:15 2/3 grade, 11:15-12:15 2/3 grade, 12:15-1 lunch/prep, 1-2 K/1, 2-3 K/1

    Madison is a great school district. They are pretty good about acknowledging and celebrating all holidays. I teach 22 classes a week (500 students) without complaint. My student population is everyone from professor's kids to homeless kids. My classes range from 17 to 28. SAGE helps keep the K/1 and 2/3 classes low. Madison is known as the democratic bubble in a republican state so you can imagine lots of non-traditional families and acceptance. My first year was in a charter school in Racine, WI. It was AWFUL.

  3. I have 40 minute classes - 5 minutes between. This year we have 5th - then planning then we have to run 2nd grade word study for 40 minutes. Then we have 3rd and K - lunch then 1st, 2nd, 4th.
    It is the same everyday so the grade level teachers can meet while all their kids are at specials. So I have the same day Mon - Thur just different kids. Friday is a little different (look for elective fridays on my blog) It would be great to have the same grade level back to back - I am always chaning out visuals and getting materials ready as they walk in!
    BTW I am in Northern Virginia in Warrenton - fauquier county - very diverse we are on the most northern end that has a lot of the suburnites moving to the 'country' and then the other end of the county is VERY rural. We are the largest county in VA in terms of land - but we only have 3 high schools (one of which just opened 3 years ago)

  4. I'm happy to have come across your blog. I too "teach" at a private school with no Art budget and small classes. I put teach in quotes because I am not an actual Art teacher. I am a Registered Nurse by profession and am the volunteer Art teacher. I teach Art to K-6th grade. It is mainly to give the classroom teachers a break.

    We have a multi-grade classroom structure. K-1, 2-4, 5&6, 7&8th. My classes are 12-13 kids each classroom. The smaller classes are great, because without any training in teaching, I need the smaller classes, lol.

    Our private school is affiliated with the church my family and I attend, a Seventh-Day Adventist church. The kids tend to all be from our denomination, though we do have a small percentage who are not. I teach 50 minute classes. Tuesday is 2nd-4th and 5&6th. Thursday is my K-1st grade class which has my daughter in it.

    I have no budget and no reimbursement unless the parents send in a donation. It comes out of my own pocket otherwise. I have asked for a donation from one classroom and plan to ask the other two. It is hard for me to do this since they already pay for tuition.

    Our student's families are NOT wealthy. They attend our school because they want their kids to have an education which integrates God and the Bible throughout the curriculum. Now as for the non-denomination students, I am not sure why the parents chose our school. maybe it is for the smaller class size. I am intrigued now and think I will ask some of the parents I am friendly with why they chose our school.

    Anyway, that is a small window in to another Private school "teacher's life"...