A secondary or primary school teacher has numerous responsibilities, which can vary per grade and school environment, i.e., private or public. Some of the basic things a school teacher does is create lesson plans, carry them out, adjust plans according to class progress or special needs of some students, maintain school disciplinary standards, evaluate ongoing student performance, and interact with students and their families. Teachers must also participate fully in staff and administrative meetings, seek continuing education for personal benefit and to maintain credentialed status, and receive training on new teaching methods or technology.
The creation of plans is key to the success of the school teacher. First, a yearly syllabus is developed that either uses books and materials recommended by a school or that address regional standards. Most teachers craft yearly plans based on regional standards, but may have flexibility in choosing some of their materials. Daily plans or unit plans help teachers figure out how they’ll accomplish the goals of a syllabus or yearly curriculum.
In carrying out lesson plans, some adjustment is required. A good school teacher should be able to detect if students are able to keep pace with a syllabus or aren’t progressing as needed. Yearly, unit or daily plans may need to be altered and should be considered fluid and based on student response. Students with learning or behavioral issues may need individualized programs or different methods of assessment, and these need to be factored in, too. All students require regular feedback on academic and behavioral performance, either with formal grades or informal discussion.
The success of planning is often determined by student performance. A school teacher must keep careful record of student work, grade it per established standards, and be able to report grades to the school and parents. Providing discipline is another responsibility, and teachers need to set rules, enforce them, or evaluate whether some students might need different rules. Planning, grading and disciplining bring teachers regularly into contact with parents who may have concerns about one or more of these areas. Parents also participate as volunteers, and teachers may need to supervise parental volunteers in classrooms or on field trips.
Teachers have responsibilities toward school administrators and faculty. Planning may exist on the faculty level and administrators may have directions on appropriate material or based on overall school performance. A credentialed school teacher also must regularly participate in continuing education, which could be part of staff training or may be more formal. Most teachers need to fulfill continuing education units in order to maintain their credentials.
The school teacher works long hours, and may work about 10-11 unpaid hours a week. The demand for greater accountability in schools and ongoing school funding issues has also led to more structured planning with less choice of materials and less assistance in the classroom. The rigorous nature of a teacher’s work fortunately does not discourage many fine educators from entering this field.