Friday, February 17, 2012

Year 2: Week 22 - Working On The Weekend

This weekend is the first weekend in about a month that I’m not going to do any work.

For the past couple weeks I’ve been completing my grades and comments for the semester. I turned in the last batch yesterday and I’m going to take a break for doing work for school.

Now this post is not about complaining about working on the weekend. I think it’s more than a fair trade to work on a couple weekends if it means that you get summer break. What I do want to reflect on is why teachers work on weekends and what that means to the community.

My first teaching job was a high school band position. I had limited time during the day to prepare for the classes I teach. I probably had about an hour in the day. I would get to work early and stay late to plan my lessons but it wasn’t enough. My department head actually told me outright that the only way I could keep up with my teaching was by working on the weekends.

So every Sunday morning and often on Saturdays I worked. That added onto the many Saturdays through out the year that were taken up by festivals and competitions pretty much obliterated a good percentage of my weekends during the school year. This was exhausting and even with doing work on the weekends I barely was able to keep up, which was one of reasons I eventually left that job.

One of the things I mentioned during my job interview at my current gig was that I wanted to maintain a life outside of school. Now this may seem like a dumb thing to say at an interview but the response I got really attracted me to the school. I was told that a lot of teachers put in extra hours, but a lot don’t and many have very interesting lives outside of the school which the school values.

Our school includes published writers, a internationally known professional musician, stand-up comics, a boxing coach and many other things. Because our teachers have these outside interests, it makes them more relaxed and interesting people who are better teachers.

A big reason why this happens is because we a good deal more prep time in our day than most teachers. While it’s not enough time during grading time to keep work off of the weekend it is most of the time.

The other reasons sometimes I work on the weekends is because, well, I teach what I love. “Working” consists of me singing music, writing arrangements, and researching the history of songs, which is stuff I do for fun in my free time. What do you do when your hobby becomes work? Get a new hobby? Hence, the blog. . .

I know that there are plenty of people who have jobs in which they have to work unpaid overtime on weekends. For most teachers, it’s part of the gig. Should it be?  I'm not sure.  I know at least for me, having less work to do on the weekends has made me a happier person and a better teacher.

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