A day in the life of a primary school teacher

8 Jan

By Niki Whiting, primary school teacher year 4, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

I love my job with a passion, but term time is all-consuming. This is a typical day – not just in my life, but also in the lives of my friends and colleagues.

5:45am Alarm goes off. Get my 14 year old’s packed lunch together. Check my e-mails. (If I don’t read them now I won’t have time when I get to school.)

After breakfast, make sure I have my marking from the previous evening and any resources I may need for the day (cookery ingredients, fabric, cardboard etc). Check son has his homework.

7:45 Arrive at school. Put the early work on the board so the children have something to do as soon as they get into the classroom. Prepare resources for the day’s lessons (first one, Literacy). Write up learning objectives for Literacy and Numeracy.

If it’s a Monday we have a briefing at 08:20 to discuss the timetable, any changes, any visits to our classroom from our headteacher. We also discuss anyone being out of school and any volunteers to cover break duties.

8:35 Get ready to speak to any parents/carers about a variety of things. Am told: ‘Well he was sick last night, but feels alright today, I’m sure he will be fine’, even after the parent/carer has been informed of the school policy on sickness. Spend the rest of the day watching child, ready with the bin at hand, or trying in vain to contact his parent/carer when he’s deposited his breakfast – open window time!

8:50 Register children, take any money for lunch, trips etc. Chase up missing homework or children.

9:00  Attend or take Assembly.

9:30 Literacy lesson – differentiated, of course. I have a statemented child on P scales [descriptions for recording the achievement of pupils with special educational needs (SEN)] up to level 4 and 30 children in the class – three on behaviour management IEPs (Individual Education Plans) with Behaviour Support Plans and Risk Assessments. I may be required to restrain using ‘Schoolsafe’ techniques at any time with colleagues.

10:30 Break time, unless on duty or covering a colleague’s duty.

10:45 Numeracy – after sorting out issues which have occurred on the playground, got everyone to write up their side of the story, discuss then apologise to each other. I’ll have to write up the incident report form at lunchtime – how the incident happened, who was involved and how it was resolved.

12:05 Lunchtime. Get ready for the afternoon activities, with learning objectives displayed. Also a chance to do some of the marking of Literacy and Numeracy books and open the classroom to any child who wants to stay in. A lovely chance to just chat to some of my children. This is the time you really get to know some of them; they tell you all sorts – parents/carers be warned!

Staff also come and see me as I’m SENCo and tend to support staff with personal and professional issues. (Not much marking gets done!) I have cuppa soup and yoghurt so I can walk and talk.

1:00pm Children come back from lunch break for registration then read in groups for 20 minutes as I usually again have to deal with any lunchtime issues. Football is the major headache – any ideas on how to tackle this gratefully received!

For the rest of the afternoon two subjects are covered and provision found for my statemented child as this is the time she is tired and needs other more practical stimulus, either with us, lower down the school, or small group work led by her TA.

3:30 Time to get the children to the correct parent/carer/guardian/club, reminding them of their water bottle, packed lunch, coat, etc. Deep discussions with parents about how they do not agree with the way I do spellings, etc, etc…

If time – clear up the classroom, return resources unless…..

On a Monday there’s an SLT meeting, Tuesday a staff meeting (both can run until 5:30/6.00pm). Thursdays I run a rounders club until 4:30. Fridays I stay and sort out my interactive displays with the children’s work, SEN meetings with outside agencies and/or a meeting with my newly qualified teacher (NQT) to discuss the week’s work.

Read/answer my e-mails re:

  • other agencies;
  • headteacher or other members of staff, including request to write newsletters;
  • planning for reading/writing/maths cafe, grandparents’ lunch, Christmas/Easter events, trips out;
  • risk assessments etc, IEPs, parents’/carers’ queries, spellings, homework, times-tables, parents’ evenings, class and own assemblies, to name but a few.

Most days I get home between 6.00 and 7.00pm. Find out what my son has been doing (usually a teenage grunt!). Check his homework, make tea (alternately with my husband), do the marking, get resources ready for the next day, bed around 10.00pm.

Somewhere find time to speak to my husband about his/my day, bills, post etc. Housework sometimes gets done (occasionally shared with my husband!).

Weekends spent catching up with my housework, marking (with next steps indicated and reply time given to children), planning for the next week (taking into account the learning achieved in the last week) and gathering resources.

On some Saturdays I make tea and coffee for my son’s football club.

Sunday is family day – usually 12 to Sunday roast! Fabulous time had by all and just enough time to squeeze in the ironing before a new week starts!

Holidays: Of course, colleagues and I work most of them: planning, analysing data, preparing for educational visits, catching up with marking and preparing the classroom displays etc for the new term.

[Article written for January 2014 Your Voice.] 

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6 Responses to “A day in the life of a primary school teacher”

  1. Richard Fraser 20. Jan, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    What do you think of this blog post about the article? http://www.sjeducation.co.uk/2014/01/promoting-unhealthy-balance.html

    It was written with the aim of showing the reality of a teacher’s life when many say teachers ‘have it easy’ She has Voice’s support and she supports other members as volunteer.

    SJ Education @Mr_SJS on Twitter responded to our reply above about the aim of the article with “@Voicetheunion It does indeed, but it’s often self-inflicted. Teachers need to defend their right to a HEALTHY lifestyle. #notbeingawkward”

    @Voicetheunion: “They do eg http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk/backs
    “Important to tell people what teachers / school staff do to appreciate importance of union for support.”

  2. siobhan harris 11. Jul, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Hello there I’m Siobhan Harris a journalist for health and parenting website BootsWebMD http://www.webmd.boots.com

    I’ve written an article about guidelines for sending kids into school when they are ill, don’t send them in with high temperature, wait 48 hours after sickness etc and I’d really love a brief quote from a teacher/union rep on this matter.

    I’d just ask do parents generally play by the rules or do they just send kids in regardless? A sentence or two via mail would be brilliant

    Best Regards Siobhan

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