A teaching life or a teacher's lot?
Sun, May 23, 2010
The Straits Times

I FIND Ms Aishah Quek's diary of a teacher's day last Saturday ('Work-life balance? Here's one day in the life of a teacher') misleading in detailing the lack of a work-life balance for her husband, a teacher.

Using the same diary format as Ms Quek, I would like to explain why.

  • 5am to 6am: Wake up and prepare for school. A lot of people, including students, take only half an hour to prepare for school or work.


  • Leave for school at 6am and arrive at 7am. If he needs to take one hour to reach school, Ms Quek's husband should ask for a transfer to a school nearer home.


  • 7am to 7.30am: The 'guard duty' he does is usually done by parent volunteers or rotated among teachers, so it is not a daily affair.


  • 7.30am to 1pm: Regular teaching. Teachers do not teach from 7.30am to 1pm at a stretch. They have one or two free periods in between each day.


  • 1 pm to 3.30pm: Prepare for and conduct remedial lessons. Again, this is not an everyday affair as different subject teachers will take turns to conduct remedial lessons.


  • 3.30pm to 5.30 pm: Take charge of co-curricular activities. Again this is usually only once a week for primary schools. For secondary schools, these are usually done by outside coaches or student leaders.


  • 5.30 pm to 6.30pm: Key in remarks on students for mid-term report book. This is required only twice a year, during mid-term and year-end.


  • 6.45 to 7.45pm: Travel home. He should request to teach in a school nearer home to cut travelling time.


  • 8.30pm to 1am: Marking books, worksheets and the like. Most homework is marked by students who exchange books and worksheets, with the teacher going through the answers during class time.
  • An exception is for examination papers and compositions, which are marked by teachers. These are usually marked in school during the teachers' free periods. The daily routine listed by the writer did not include lunch breaks.

While a teacher's job is stressful, so are other jobs. Having to work long hours is the norm for all jobs now. At least the workload of a teacher's job is seasonal and there are times when they can relax a little, for example, during the long mid-year and year-end holidays.

So teachers, cheer up, you are not alone, all other jobs are stressful and requires us to work long hours as well.

Tan Lee Hwang (Ms)

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

For more The Straits Times stories, click here.

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