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I have a planning period each day (same amount of time as a class), but most
afternoons there's a help/flex period for about 45 minutes after 6th
period--this is when kids come in to finish up work or to get more personal
attention with something they're working on. Students can choose to come to
help/flex or their teachers may require them to do so.
I'm also an advisor for six students (5th, 6th, and 7th graders) and eat
lunch with them every day--no such thing as "duty-free" lunch. I'm also
responsible for contacting their parents at least once every two weeks to
give progress reports. Our day (officially) starts at 7:50 with morning
assembly and I also sit with my advisees then.
On alternate Mondays, we have club meetings (for an hour and a half) and I'm
the sponsor for the art club.
Every Wednesday the class periods are shortened to allow for our service
program. There are several different programs available (Civil Air Patrol,
environmental, community action--in schools, nursing homes, etc.) and so
we're out in the community or working on campus about 2 hours per week.
There's no regular PE program and so teachers are enlisted to coach a
variety of sports programs, being responsible for 2 out of 3 seasons. This
occurs every afternoon from 3:30 until 5:30. So starting with the winter
sports season, my day will "officially" start at 7:50 and not end until
5:30. For teachers who are coaching sports teams that have away games, the
day can be much, much longer.
In and around this, during the month of January, regular classes are
suspended and special courses are offered. The major class meets for 4
hours per day (for 4 weeks) and the minor class meets for an hour and a
half. My major class this year is not art-related so I'm in the process of
coming up with 80 hours of academic stuff (yikes!) and my minor class will
focus on paper making.
Additionally, faculty members are responsible for working every 5th
weeknight until midnight, and every 5th weekend (the whole weekend) in order
to provide coverage as it's a boarding as well as day school. I opted out
of this, given that I'm a single mom with 2 kids--but it reduced my salary
by 20% or more.... I'd make about $7-8 thousand MORE per year if I were
teaching in a public school, and I'd have fewer hours.
There are no teacher workdays and no one-day holidays (i.e. we were in
school on Labor Day, and we'll be there tomorrow, too). Neither are there
snow days built into the schedule as most of the teachers and the majority
of the students live on campus. I don't live on campus, so this will be
I teach in a building that is about 120+ years old. I've got tons of
space--but only one small sink, no bathroom, no phone, no computer, no air
conditioning, no screens!, etc. I roasted over there this summer as I was
setting up (and early in the school year), and I've been warned that I'll
freeze this winter.
But the trade-offs (so far) make it worthwhile... The school is located
5-1/2 miles from my house so I only have about a 10 minute commute. There
are 140 students, total, between grades 5 and 12. My largest class has 14
students, my smallest class has 8. While I generally follow the guidelines
for my state SOLs and am in contact with friends who teach in the public
sector, I really have a lot of freedom in deciding what we'll do in art, and
There is wonderful backup and support for things like discipline, and
compared to public schools (I was in a large public elementary school for 7
years), discipline just really isn't much of an issue. Kids receive demerits
for any rule infractions and they generally have to work them off--by
sweeping, emptying trash, cleaning toilets, washing dishes, mopping floors,
etc., etc. If they accumulate a certain # of demerits they're on
restriction (can't do any special activities like trips to the mall or the
movies), and if they accumulate a ton of demerits, they have to leave the
You really get to know your kids in this environment and it's incredibly
supportive--if a kid is having trouble in your class, you talk with his/her
advisor, other teachers, and soon the kid has a whole bunch of adults on his
case, offering to help, etc. An added benefit is that the school is located
on a campus with 1500 acres--it's absolutely gorgeous--and that helps make
being there very pleasant, indeed. And while we don't get the random days
off, we have longer breaks at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and about 2 weeks
off for spring break.
It's demanding and it's intense, and it requires that teachers wear lots of
different "hats," but at this point I feel I'm in for the duration...