A Day in the Life of an Elementary School Teacher

from Progressive Network of Southeast PA, 10/12/13

by a Chester County elementary school teacher

Elementary school teachers spend hours upon hours, seven days a week, planning, prepping, grading, inputting data, conferencing and supporting the children who benefit from their instruction and watchful eye.

However, if you think the potential to take summers off, enjoy long holiday breaks and schedule appointments at four in the afternoon are some of teaching’s best perks, you are absolutely incorrect!

So, how do elementary school teachers spend their weekly hours? In short, they spend it richly. They are tasked with the responsibility of providing an effective elementary school education to each child that passes through their doors.

Elementary school teachers pack each day with the kind of experiences, relationships, skill-building exercises—and, yes, challenging, enriching lessons—that equip young children to succeed in school and beyond. See the schedule below for an example of how one 4th grade elementary teacher spends her day!


7:00 – arrive at school, get more coffee and review lesson plans

7:30 – early meeting (faculty, team, primary/intermediate, I.E.P. meeting, progress monitoring, parent conference…) and any last-minute preparations

8:10 [in classroom] – Pledge of Allegiance; take attendance; take lunch/milk count; OOPS! I just realized I forgot to visit the restroom; make announcements; look at notes from home; pass out any needed materials; collect/check home assignments

8:25 – teach mini-lesson [based on students’ needs]

9:00 – accompany class to music, art or physical education [depends on the day]; RUSH to the restroom!; call 3 parents, leave messages on answering machines; check/respond to emails and phone messages; teacher planning, prepping, grading time???? NO TIME!!! Accompany students from music, art or physical education [depends on the day] back to classroom.

9:25 – teach social studies/science lesson [depends on the day]

10:45 – teach math lesson

Noon – accompany class to lunch/recess; rush to restroom (teachers alternate on lunch & recess duty, serving every other day)

1:00 –teach language arts lesson

2:55 – prep for dismissal

3:00 – teacher monitors as students go to car/bus line; after school care; rush to restroom

3:30 – late meeting (faculty, team, primary/intermediate, I.E.P. meeting, progress monitoring, parent conference…)… *and any last-minute preparations, grade papers; input grades online; prepare for next day’s activities

*These tasks can only be accomplished if you are fortunate to have someone to:

pick up your own children from day care or after-school activities
take your own children to doctors appointments
shop for & cook family dinner
clean up after family dinner
monitor homework

By 6:00 [HOPEFULLY] – Go home with any unfinished work.

By 8:00 [HOPEFULLY] – Your own children’s day comes to a close & you may have a few moments to chat with your significant other. So that you can grade papers, plan, prepare for next day’s activities…

By 11:00 [HOPEFULLY] – It’s a teacher’s bedtime.

The next day….

Between 5 – 5:30AM, my alarm sounds, I crawl out of bed, and….


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