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What Teachers Do on Labor Day

September 5, 2022

Wonder what teachers do on Labor Day, or on other holidays, for that matter?

The answer is that teachers work on Labor Day, or, if they want to have that particular day to themselves, they have already worked on the previous weekend, or on Friday before or after school (or both), or earlier in the week, to make room for having a holiday.

Some will go in early on the day after Labor Day to make up for taking a holiday as a holiday.

Many teachers begin their school year the day after Labor Day, and many of them have made similar adjustments, using their own, unpaid time to be ready to have students on Tuesday, September 6th, 2022.

The time allotted to us to set up classrooms and prepare for students is like an algebraic equation in which x is the paid time we have to prepare for z, what is necessary to be prepared:

z = x + “yeah, you know,”

where “yeah, you know” is however many additional, unpaid hours it takes.

Note that in our profession, the equation is never z = x.

In my case, our district started school a month ago, with teachers reporting August 1st and students, August 8th. So, I am a month into 2022-23. The way I handle my extra, unpaid-time contribution is by reporting to school an hour and a half earlier each day than the school day begins.

In other words, I put in six days for every five for which I am paid. Many of my colleagues district-wide do more.

But today, today for me is a holiday. I slept in and already took a nap because of exhaustion; I forced myself to take care of all responsibilities for my life (including school) in the days leading up to today so that I might purposefully rest– in order to put in an extra-long day Tuesday– for the usual school day plus Open House tomorrow evening.

I know I am running a marathon and must pace myself.

Happy Labor Day, teachers. I hope that you can squeeze in a nap.

Yeah, you know.

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4 Comments
  1. John P permalink

    Parents and the public do not understand the math. If I am a high school teacher with 144 contacts, the time to devote five minutes a week to each student (outside of class hours) is 12 hours a week. This is not adequate, but a week is limited to 168 hours. Remote learning was even more demanding of time.
    College professors are limited to usually three classes a week (meeting only 2-3 times). They are usually limited to about 50 contacts, and have graduate TA’s to assist with the large classes. For 1/3 of the contacts and 1/3 of the contact hours, they are paid 2-3 times what secondary teachers are paid. Some difference is justified, but not this extreme difference.

    • Daedalus permalink

      John.. That was in the past. Almost no college professors exist, now. It’s all done with part-time staff (‘adjuncts’).
      Don’t pit college teachers against high school teachers. They are in the same sinking boat, and need to row together.

  2. Noble Jan permalink

    I remember one year in which we had to make up hurricane days with Thanksgiving break days. I usually used some of this Thanksgiving days to catch up on paper grading and getting ahead by preparing for the last few weeks of the semester. That year without those days almost did me in!! Breaks are essential, even when those days are really unpaid work days. Not enough hours In the day/week – ever. 😩

  3. Daedalus permalink

    Thanks, Mercedes. Most people have no idea. And, I was lucky enough to be able to pick and choose my schools (science background) and demand fairly small classes. Still, the day never ended.

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