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Walking in the Shoes of a Primary School Teacher

Image credits to AsiaOne

A common misconception about teachers is that they have a shorter workday compared to everyone else who might be pulling in 8 to 12 hours daily. However, that is definitely not the case. We spoke to teachers who shone a light on how a day in their life is like and after our conversations, we have a deeper sense of appreciation and respect for them.

Let’s take a walk in their shoes for a day, shall we?


Day Starts 

Some teachers are in school as early as 6:30am, even though school starts at about 7.20am. Lessons may not start early but there is always work to do- done over paperwork, piles of books to be marked and other administrative duties. Breakfast is sometimes a rushed affair in school then off to classes!


Next up, lessons!

Like any other job, there are good and bad days. Some days teachers walk out of the classrooms feeling proud and accomplished when majority of their students pass a test or when their class wins the best decorated classroom for Racial Harmony Day, etc. Not all days are good though. There are frustrating days when students seem like they’ve consumed Energizer batteries and are way too active and loud in class and it becomes so challenging to even hold a proper lesson.

And then on other days, teachers struggle to conduct lessons when they’ve been struck by a sore throat. How do you even talk to 30 to 40 students when you’re in pain and can’t even make out what you’re saying? This dilemma occurs so frequently that major discussions take place in the staff room about various remedies and teachers even stock up on vitamins and medications on their desks!

And of course, teachers always try to put on their best smiles when they step into classrooms, no matter how they are feeling side emotionally and physically. Appreciate those smiles!



When the final bell rings, the kids rejoice. Teachers, however, stay on for meetings, CCAs or remedial lessons. On average, teachers usually remain in school for at least 3 to 4 days a week for these activities. In addition, the markings, lesson planning and administrative work happens after all these meetings and activities have ended. Still, work never ends (we see the heads nodding!) so it is not uncommon to have teachers bringing their work home or staying until the school closes at about 7pm. Teachers love big and sturdy bags to transport their worksheets and books home!

In addition, teachers plan and organise excursions for the students. Although school excursions are fun, teachers have to constantly keep an eye on their students and be responsible for them when they are out at a new place. During any trip, teachers are: ushers, headcount leaders, body guards, CCTVs and... photographers! Multi-tasking at an amazing level!  And of course, have fun with the students!


Have you seen teachers dancing and performing during campfires? Teachers can play, too!


(Weekend) Lesson Plans

Even the weeknights and weekends are not spared from the amount of work! The lesson plan for one lesson can easily take up to 2 to 3 hours. This includes the planning of the lesson’s structure, coming up with classroom activities, creating additional enrichment worksheets and PowerPoint slides. Despite all these preparation, teachers sometimes have to modify it on the spot to suit the needs of their students or if students are unable to catch up.

How to make the learning process easy and fun? Can I add  more activities for the class? What materials do I need? Do I need worksheets for the class?


More than kids

Managing students is one thing – teachers also have the task of managing parents! Yes, that means you! Communication between parents and teachers is constant these days, with text messaging and other apps that are specially designed for teachers to share with parents about what goes on during lessons or for them to track the progress of their children. With communication becoming so effortless these days, it also becomes frequent and time-consuming with all the replying to-and-fro. While we can text 3 or 4 subject teachers/form teacher, the teacher updates about close to 40 sets of parents. That IS a lot of messaging!


Do you know some teachers have facebook groups for parents to provide updates on their lessons and class activities? Some teachers even use apps like Classdojo to upload pictures! How cool is that!


Teachers also pay a lot of attention to students not performing well academically and more importantly, socially. They take time to chat with students to understand their family needs and social needs. To say teachers are also counsellors is not exactly an over statement.

We asked the teachers; with so much of your time being taken up by work, handling students and all the ups and downs that comes along with it – is it really worth it being a teacher? Their answers was a yes. Despite everything, seeing their students improving and achieving good results and when teachers get appreciated for their work, it keeps them going. They love seeing their students happy and their days are brightened when the kids do something to make them laugh.

We suppose it’s the little moments that mean so much to them and sometimes that is all they need to retain their passion.


Thank you teachers!


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