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“It’s Their Job”

For some reason, “it’s their job” comments about teachers seem to follow me everywhere. Particularly the “it takes me hours to write a paper! It takes 5 minutes to read it!” variety. My response is as follows:

It’s not just reading, though. It’s taking the time to read and think carefully about what the paper is trying to say (Does it contradict itself? Does it even meet the rubric? If there’s no anti-plagiarism software that they can use, is it original work?) and correcting errant spelling and grammar and sometimes, that can be a huge struggle.

Hell, if a teacher collects a 80 papers and gives them back the next day, I am suspicious that they just scrawled a grade down (whether it benefits me or not).

I mean, really, do the math: Say a teacher takes 5 minutes per paper. Just 5! Not that long, right? Multiply that by 80. 400 minutes = 6 hours and 40 minutes. That’s 6 hours and 40 minutes spent outside of school (i.e. paid) hours grading because, at least at through high school, teachers don’t have time to grade during the day!

And after school? Meetings with other teachers. Mandatory training. Meetings with parents asking why little precious’s grade has dropped and not believing it’s because little precious doesn’t pay attention despite other teachers and the principal corroborating the story. Okay, home around 6 PM. 10 minutes for dinner. Onto grading. The teacher has young kids? They need to be fed and put to bed. But say the teacher’s spouse does that.

So, we’re still at 6:10 PM with 6 hours and 40 minutes (bare minimum) of grading to do on unpaid hours… and the teacher needs to be up at 5 again to repeat the process. (Are you doing the math? 4 hours of sleep, 1 AM to 5 AM. Maybe. If they don’t have lesson plans to write or other assignments to grade.)

If your boss told you that they consistently expected nearly 7 hours of unpaid work from you a day, would you be okay with it? I bet not. (If you are, hey, good on you. Most people I know aren’t, though.)

So yes, even though teachers sign up for this, and even though “it’s their job”, think about it: they just barely have time for the necessities of life during the school year (and it doesn’t stop there–workshops and curriculum re-shaping and “how do we deal with this terror-child and their terror-parents next year” all summer long. Again, unpaid.), and for those with a family, like my mom, that’s hard, to say the least. It’s her job and she does it, but goddammit, I am 24 and sometimes, I just want to spend some time with my mom, but often, I don’t get to. Because “that’s her job.”

Think about that the next time you don’t get your paper back the next day.


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