I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

I work for only 40 weeks of the year. School finishes at 2:45pm every day.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

I teach 600 different teenagers a week, and I address each one individually by name, and ask how their weekend was, making sure to remember that John had a trip away with his choir. I stand at my classroom door and smile as they laugh at me singing songs and at me calling everyone ‘sausage’ or ‘treacle’, and wishing them an ‘amazeballs day’.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

I get to work for 7am, by 7:15am the car park is already a third full with my colleagues. If I arrive at 7:30am, there are no spaces left. I stay for 13, or 14 hour days, sometimes for parents’ evenings, or school concerts, or meetings about a trip. Sometimes I work this long when I return home after work, sat in my pyjamas staring bleary-eyed at my laptop with tomorrow’s lesson on the screen.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

I volunteer to take students away for a weekend, in order to give them a life-long learning experience. I spend evenings thinking about how I am going to help the child whose parents just don’t seem to care. I spend weekends planning how best to engage the child who doesn’t like working as part of a group.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

For each hour I spend in the classroom I spend at least another hour planning the lesson, marking their work, and entering endless data into a computer for it to tell me that despite the fact Olivia couldn’t even clap in time at the start of the year and now can play both hands together on the keyboard, I am not a good teacher as she hasn’t made enough progress against her target.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

There are some days where between the hours of 8am and 5pm I do not have even two minutes to eat my lunch, check my phone, or take a second to breathe. There are some days where I am so thirsty, but have no time to fill up my water bottle, and it’s probably best that I don’t, as I don’t have time to have a wee either. These days happen more often than not.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

At 27, I am exhausted. Working 60 hour weeks as standard means that I have little time to live my life. Getting up in the morning, driving to and leaving school in the dark in those long winter months, and being on my feet all day is taking its toll. I don’t see how I can do this for another 40 years.

I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

I strike because I care enough about your child’s education to want to fix a broken system. I strike because I care enough about your child’s education to want them to have the best possible teachers – not exhausted, stressed, on-their-knees and publicly ridiculed shells of people. But ultimately, for some, my reason for striking will always be because…I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher.

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60 thoughts on “I am a so-called ‘lazy’ teacher

  1. Yes, this is a broken system on many levels, education being but one of them. Still, I have yet to meet an actual lazy teacher. Even the ones I disliked in my youth could not be accused of laziness. It is a difficult and often thankless job. Strike or no strike, there are many of us out here who appreciate what you are doing.

  2. Your post caught my eye because I work in higher education. Yes, the system is very broken — for teachers + administrators alike. I pull the same schedule you do, but for 50+ weeks of the year, and many administrators are considered “detached” from the academic environment + students. The whole system is crazy, but I’m hopeful it will change in the future.

  3. Gemma says:

    Thank you for this, I have shared it and hope the people who slate us and really don’t understand stop and read a day in the life if ‘a lazy teacher’

    Thanks 😉

  4. Paul says:

    When I first left university and started my first job in the web industry, we used to work ridiculously long hours for no extra pay. Now older and wiser, we realise that this should not be the norm. If a project requires you do do extra hours to get it finished on time, then a manager somewhere hasn’t done their job properly. Instead of striking for the occasionally day here and there, why not just work-to-rule and do the hours that you’re contracted to do?

    • Hi Paul – thanks for your comment. You raise an interesting point – and currently my union is in action short of strike. We are encouraged by our union to ‘work to rule’. The difference, perhaps, between working long hours on web based projects for our bosses and teaching is that if we do not complete a ‘project’ on time, or in our case planning a lesson, putting on a school concert, or taking our students on a residential, it is real people who will suffer and miss out. It is a tricky one to contend with – on the one hand I agree with your point, however I find it difficult to justify not putting the hours in. What do you think? X

    • Hoox says:

      I’m curious to know – what do you think a teacher’s contracted hours are?
      8.45 – 3.15 pm?
      With approximately 5 lessons a day (30 students per class) and each student needing individual support and feedback ( written and verbal), contracted hours mean nothing.
      Actual time spent teaching in the classroom is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of actual working hours. Each lesson taught easily generates no less than 3 more hours of work due to planning, marking and ensuring that students are indeed making progress.
      Somewhere within those ‘contracted hours’ one also has to provide pastoral support to the young people we work with.
      It would be great if we only had to do contracted hours but for teachers contracted hours are a myth.

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi, I have just read this and I can totally relate, I work in FE from 8am -5pm, Mon- Fri, I return home around 5:40pm and my feet are swollen and i am that physically drained I don’t have the energy to interact with my own family.
    It upsets me to think small minded people don’t realise what happens in the day of a life of a teacher, we get branded as coffee drinkers who have nowt better to do than sit in the staff room, when I do actually sit with colleges it’s to discuss how we can make learning better for our students, as for holidays, my college is open all year round so don’t even get a summer hol 😦

    Regards,
    Sarah

    • Thanks for your comment Sarah – I think that lots of people work hard and care a lot about their jobs, but they don’t have their best efforts criticised in the media. It’s tough in education – but I hope that one day not only will our efforts be worth it in terms of the results for the lives of our students, but also for the way we will be portrayed – as the hard working professionals we are x

  6. Rick Teather says:

    I spent most of my life self-employed (in a number of different businesses) but at age 55 decided to go back to school to become a teacher. I’m very lucky in that, having been self employed for so long, I was used to working long hours. In those positions, you are focused on results, not on process (as is so often the case with those in government and other bureaucratic ridden positions). As a teacher (still focused on results) you have to put in the hours if you want your students to succeed. I am perpetually amazed at the ignorance of both the press and many members of the general public who would label teachers as “lazy” simply because they have a few weeks off in the summer. My break is coming up, and for a change, I’ve promised myself that I won’t do more than a couple of hours a day towards the school work that I need for next year. The time I will put in on vacation will be still more than most people’s vacation time.

    • I think you’re right – it’s the perception of us ‘lazy’ teachers in the media that is so grating.i think if we worked out the number of hours we work in a week and added it up over a year we would probably end up with less holiday time than other people with ‘normal’ jobs xx

      • Wyrd Ways Rock Show says:

        We do. Even after taking the holidays into account, we work (on average) a 50 hour week. I did the Maths not so long ago to combat that very point.

  7. Jane says:

    I’ll be the first to agree that teaching is by no means an easy job, teachers ‘generally’ are truly dedicated, committed and certainly not lazy – however – strike action for odd days won’t get results. In addition to this the huge row about taking children out of school for family holidays is high on some parents agenda / gripe list, rightly so in my opinion, so it needs to work both ways.

  8. Louise says:

    My sister’s a teacher. And my best friend. And while I do appreciate and see the hours that are put in, it is difficult to read all of these messages and articles which keep coming out about teachers.

    A number of professions are exactly the same but there aren’t these articles about them. Nurses work long hours for not great money and have increasing pressures on paperwork, bedside manner, budget cuts. They work 52 weeks a year minus 20-25days hol.

    The same for police, dealing with the lowest of the low and not having the luxury of being able to strike for their rights.

    I’m self employed. 13-15 hour days are the norm. Weekend working is the norm. Coming home from work and working in to the night on the accounts or the invoices or receipts is the norm. Holidays are few as I have to pay someone to take my place. 52 weeks a year. I don’t take home a regular and pretty decent salary, It fluctuates wildly and some months I don’t get paid as I have to pay staff before myself.

    I went it to the job with eyes wide open as I’m sure teachers and police and nurses do (especially with the mounting articles like this).

    If you don’t like what you do, change what you do, there must be a lot of good about the profession for so many people to go in to it and spend so long doing it.

    Every job has its downsides and its upsides and while I support the right to improve conditions for teachers (and their students) it’s important that teachers also recognise other careers with similar issues and not feel *quite* so hard done by.

    • Thanks for the comment Louise – really interesting. I would never put down the hard work of other professions – I agree public sector workers such as nurses and police deserve to be well-paid and looked after. I am a teacher, and I blog about my life and what I know. The recent teachers’ strike from one particular union prompted my post – and I’m glad it’s highlighting issues elsewhere too x

    • polly says:

      nurses do not have to take work home everyday after working 8-9 hours. Most teachers work 2-4 hours each night and at weekends to keep heads above water. I do think nurses should get a good wage, teachers are not striking about pay but most are striking about work / life balance which at the moment is non existent. A lot of teachers at the moment are dreading the summer holidays as they know that they have to go back and
      need to get organized during the holidays for next year.

      • Thanks for your comment polly – I’ve only commented on teaching in my post as that’s what I have first hand experience of. I’m sure equally there are a lot of nurses who feel let down by the system and who deserve better x

  9. Hello, I stumbled across this thanks to one of the more exceptional teachers I used to work with, the problem I have as support staff for a number of years, is that your story is not a common one, the teachers like you will like this post and will relate to it, for the others (of whom you have to work so hard because of) will not care and will continue to do a crap job.

    I can’t tell you the raft of lessons I had to go in to “fix” something, where the teacher was being very ineffective, the teachers sitting on facebook, the teachers who leave bang on the bell, as quick as the kids, the teachers that are so bad, they get a good reference and move on to do a bad job elsewhere.

    I worked with one teacher who was terrible and managed to move on to a co-ordinator role for more money, closer to home and for a better school.
    Senior leaders who really couldn’t care about the job, happy to take their term time roles and move on to their next leadership role where they do very little teaching and get paid a hell of a lot more than those on the ground.

    Then of course, there’s the principle who used to change the figures for attendance etc so that the school appeared to be performing better, that was my favourite.
    With that all said, working long hours, corruption and ineffective staff are rife regardless of the industry /sector.
    Thanks
    Matt

    • Interesting point Matt thanks – I agree that there are ineffective staff in all walks of life.i suppose my point is that teachers at the moment face a lot of criticism in the media and I wanted to reflect the views of myself and my hard-working colleagues – I’m glad my post has become a discussion point x

    • Barbara Ashworth says:

      Absolutely agree. I know personally several teachers who have headed off abroad as soon as the school holidays began, this is ALL holidays, not just Summer. They were also first in the queue as soon as they hit 50 for “early retirement” and they got it!

      My daughter trained to teach in the 16+sector (postgrad) and as an assistant she patiently waited 2 years, conned into thinking there were going to be jobs as a teacher. She was working alongside teachers in her college who were nothing short of thick as two short planks, on a sinecure! No degrees, no insight, no commitment.
      Disgusting! She has a student loan to pay back as a result of this broken dream. She had a distinction for her work with special needs students. She works in Top Shop now.

      • I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s experience – hopefully you don’t blame me or teachers as a whole for this – your daughter not being able to follow her dream is definitely not our intention x

  10. Understandably feelings run high about taking children out of school for family holidays – but this was not implemented by teachers. Blame rather the way of measuring schools which holds them accountable for pupil absence. This is imposed by government league tables and Ofsted, not teachers.

    It is this sort of making what is measurable important rather than measuring what is truly important (which very frequently is not measurable) which leads to nonsensical rules like this, which in turns breeds resentment between parents and teachers. Parents and teachers are on the same “side” – they want what is best for their children/pupils.

  11. Claire says:

    Great article.

    If another profession that works similar hours over a year or under the same kind of pressure was being called lazy, told they work part time and that their holidays are too long, they’d also try very hard to help people get a realistic idea of what their job actually entails.

    Don’t shoot the messenger or accuse them of whinging. Calling someone lazy, and then that person pointing out why they’re not, is not whinging. It’s defending themselves.

      • David McAlpine says:

        Hi, I know teachers have a raw deal, as my daughter and niece are in the profession. However, as a lowly truck driver would it be permissible for me to have an input. I too work long hours, the maximum I can work according to the law is three days at fifteen hours and three days at thirteen. As all employers want the maximum out of their staff and equipment, most drivers are obliged to work to the legal limit. We get twenty eight days holiday per year including bank holidays. Today I started driving at 5.45 am and finished at 20.45 tonight. I have driven my truck fully loaded (44 tonne) a total of 581 kilometres, from York to Enfield then on to Chatham docks. I am currently parked on an industrial estate in Milton Keynes on route to Wednesbury for 8 am. I do all this for the princely sum of £8.50 per hour. I also have to contend with other traffic and Vosa. Vosa is a self funded government agency whose sole purpose is to make sure that all trucks and drivers are legally on the roads. If I have accrued an infringement of the drivers hours by more that 10 minutes in any period of driving, I am open to a fine of £300.00. If in the eyes of the inspector , my load is deemed to be insufficiently restrained ( only his opinion) I could be fined upto £2000 , but enough of Vosa. We also have to contend with the attitude of the general public, who see trucks as a nuisance. What people don’t realise, is, everything you have ever owned or are ever going to own, has spent some part of its life on a truck. I know all jobs have their downside, I just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone in feeling hard done by. I am going to stop there, and thank you for taking the time to read this rant. Dave

  12. Hey, do as I’m doing and try and enjoy your summer break. I know work is always in the back of your mind, but try and take at least a week out doing nothing but what you want to do – prep, schemes of work and lesson plans can wait, just for a little while! 🙂

  13. Kay Edwards says:

    And when you want to retire at 57 coz you’re completely disillusioned, fed up redoing it all again for the umpteenth time because someone in the government think it’s new. We work hard, keep rewriting the curriculum, try kinesthetic, kagan, team learning, peer green pen marking, WAL and WILF, PLaTs, date in both words and numerals, starters constant revisiting the WAL and they wonder way pupils don’t reach their targets;

    the government want to take15%off my lump sum and monthly pension that I’ve paid into since1979.

      • Kay Edwards says:

        Yes, and that no one listens! There are always hidden agendas! What do you do when you feel that you’ve done all that you can? Often I come home in tears with frustration and anger, mainly because I just simply have enough time (and energy) to help those pupils who really need and want it.
        whatever we do, how ever many hours we spend if the data doesn’t come up to predictions we are classed as inadequate! Oh! I give up!! I’m a burnt out, frustrated, experienced teacher who wants out, but can’t without giving the government 15% of MY pension!! I know what those not in education would say ‘Shut up and get on it.’ NO I won’t, the worms are turning! I never used to believe in industrial action, but now I have voted yes, and will strike to help those who still have years to go.

      • I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling so down Kay – I think that although I feel frustrated at times with the system and with the way my profession is portrayed in the media, I do love my job. I know it is frustrating at times – but our students and our profession needs teachers like you – please don’t give up yet! X

  14. Dee says:

    I am a parent who happens to work at my daughters school (but not as a teacher) and i see first hand how stressed and overworked teachers are! You also don’t get enough support from parents because unfortunately too many believe that while their children are in your care they’re YOUR problem. There is definitely too much criticism on your profession.Keep up the great work that you do because from little acorns mighty oaks grow!!!

  15. Frank says:

    Interesting post, interesting series of comments, of which seem to be “teacher friendly”. In order to generate a real debate then why not blog on second site that would bring a more balanced series of responses?

    As a parent of three boys I would not call teachers lazy. However I would ask a couple of questions:

    1. Against a backdrop of the UK educational standards falling against a series of international benchmarks, what is the fundamental argument against the setting of targets? Is this one proven method of driving up standards?

    2. I read in the media that the teachers are striking for reasons of pay and conditions? What does ‘pay and conditions’ actually mean in this context – reading the above I am assuming it is more than salary and pensions…..

    • Hi frank – thank you for your comments. With regards to the balance of comments – I’m allowing everything written in response to my post. I had no idea when writing this post it would be read by almost 20000 people – my blog is a personal one which is lucky to generate 100 readers usually, the majority of which are my friends. As for re-blogging onto another site to generate more discussion I would only be too glad to and it’s something I’ll look into as a result of your response.
      To answer your first question – it is not the setting of targets that I object to at all. It’s more the generic setting of targets as a blanket, one size fits all approach. Not all students develop at the same rate, or benefit from the way in which the targets are set in all subjects. I don’t have a solution for this – this was just one example of something that frustrates me as a teacher.
      To answer your second point – yes salary and pensions are important and are the reason why some unions are striking. The goalposts have been changed for many who entered the profession a long time ago who were promised certain things. We are also entering performance related pay – so if our students don’t make their targets as imposed by either the government or the school, or sometimes a combination of both, we will not advance up the pay scale. Where’s the problem with that, I hear you ask. It is the same in many other professions. The difference is that we are dealing with people, not figures. Sometimes, as I said before, students do not develop at that pace, because they are children, and there are more factors influencing their lives than just our teaching. X

  16. My friend used to say to me the day before the GCSE results came out, “See you next July sometime!” She wasn’t really joking either! I have 4 grandchildren, three of whom I hardly saw in their infancy as I was so busy teaching. Since I retired 4 years ago this month, I have finally got a life! I do all the things I wished I could do but couldn’t when I was teaching. I loved teaching; I loved my pupils, well most of them :), I loved and respected my colleagues, but I hated that feeling that however many hours I worked & whatever I did, it just wasn’t good enough! I never managed to keep up with all the marking, not because I was lazy, I just couldn’t work 24 hours a day every day! I worry for my colleagues I left still teaching; I worry for the new teachers coming into the profession; I worry for pupils nowadays under the pressures they are also under. Good luck to you all xx

  17. jo says:

    Thanks for this. It’s so frustrating when you work so hard and get no credit. Love your comments on targets. If it was only as easy as good teaching + time = progress. They forget the equation is far more complicated as it involves actual human beings not machines. It’s probably more like good teaching + motivated child with no outside negative influences or hormones or emotional issues/needs + interest in the subject + aptitude in the subject + effort made consistently + feeling positive especially on the day of an assessment or exam + confidence and self belief = progress. And I’ve probably left 100 more factors out.

    • I do think I need to address the negative slant of my post – I love my job. Yes it’s hard work, yes I am tired, but I love it. I, and clearly many other teachers judging by the responses on here, work extremely hard, and our frustration lies in the misrepresentation in the media and those who believe that we are ‘lazy’. You’re right – a teacher can only influence how well a child does, not control. And I’m proud of how much work I and you and our colleagues put into our students to help them, to influence them, to do as well as they can. X

  18. Karla Peatling To Be says:

    I read your post on Facebook and I am just a working parent, but I am amazed people would be so critical when raising a child is a hard job and teachers play a Part in that. If you no longer have caring teachers because they are burnt out, how can you be expected to notice a odd bruise on a child and raise awareness or calm a screaming child who doesn’t want their mummy to leave. teachers being able to cope with a class full of children will always hold my respect as I have tough days with the two of my own. My daughter will start year one soon and if it wasn’t for the compassion and care that her teachers put in I’m not sure she would have settled so well. So thank you ladies and gentlemen for helping me raise a well rounded child 😊

  19. Iain says:

    Lots of interesting points! The wholesale criticism of education in the UK is appalling. Mr Gove is obsessed in comparisons to the likes of China (where I have taught). Very good at Mathis and sciences in exams because they learn by rote. In sciences they would be lucky to do any practical work! Good exam results, now try get them to use it and they have little idea, Exams are not everything and the MYP and IB systems are really taking off to evaluate the other skills within each subject students can demonstrate!

    • As a music teacher I am a big believer in practical and skills based lessons so I agree – it is difficult to compare us to other countries when we have a different system, and it does seem unfair we come under such harsh criticism x

  20. labtech says:

    I work as a school lab technician so I see how hard teachers work. It is the constant curriculum changes that, in my view, make life so difficult. You no sooner finish one scheme of work, than a whole new one is required because some idiot in Whitehall has decided to change one topic for another, seemingly at random! I would also like to point out the pkight of my profession, however. We ae generally science graduates who work hard and advise teachers. We have no chance of advancement, no sttucture for pay increases and no recognition within the school. I’m still glad I do my nomy not and not a teacher’s though lol!

  21. Kay Edwards says:

    Absolutely right! ! One of my lecturers at Uni told us that the problem is that everyone has been to school so they think they know what it’s like to be a teacher and want to change things.
    I would like to acknowledge all the hard work that TA’s and Technicians do, we wouldn’t manage without you! People don’t realise how hard you work, for little reward, and are paid pro rata too!

  22. Alan Travis says:

    If you don’t like your job, why don’t you get a different one?

    How about you compare notes with a private in Afghanistan, who goes out on patrol and risks IEDs, automatic weapons, and then sleeps on the rocks.
    He works 7 days a week for much less money than you earn, AND he doesn’t get three months off.

    Finally, may I say “wah, wah, wah.”
    Your “gimme more money” got old two decades ago.

    • Thank you for your comment Alan – many on here have shared similar views but in a far more constructive and polite way. I take your view on board – as I have said, this is a personal lifestyle blog usually only read by my friends, however I cannot agree with the negative and frankly immature way you’ve put it across.

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