The heavier workload of teachers

Helen Huang, Staff Reporter

Fed up with homework? Resenting the people who assign it? Before you start complaining, first think about hard your teachers have. They don’t just skim through your work and make a few marks on the paper. Most of them spend hours of their time organizing lessons, planning activities, poring over essays and projects, replying to questions and going to school-related meetings.

The rigid schedule is especially tough on teachers who have other obligations, like studying for a college degree or caring for their children.

Art and Yearbook teacher Kate Weidkamp knows what it’s like to have to work on both her students’ education and her own. She’s currently taking online courses to finish her master’s degree in teaching. “I really do understand about having a heavy workload, and having to balance life and classes and work, so I can really empathize,” she says.

Kate Weidkamp acknowledges that core-class teachers tend to have more to grade than her. However, that doesn’t mean she isn’t committed to her subject. She often grades more than three hours a day. When she’s really busy and there are big summative projects to score, Kate Weidkamp simply spends her weekends in her classroom going through the assignments.

English and AP Literature teacher Martha vonEsmarch has it a bit different. Because she teaches classes that often do worksheets and write essays, Martha vonEsmarch grades just about every day, usually during her prep period or after school. When Friday’s come along, she says, “that’s when I spend eight hours or more [a day on it]. I like to get it finished on Friday afternoons or Saturdays.”

“Grading essays is part of what we [English teachers] do,” she adds. “We’re grateful for the weekends…but I think most of us don’t dread Monday.”

One more thing Kate Weidkamp and Mrs. vonEsmarch are expected to do: prepping. They both devote huge amounts of time to preparing their lessons. Mrs. Weidkamp states, “Sometimes I’ll come in during the weekends and do six to seven hours of prepping…not including grading.” Mrs. vonEsmarch often meets with other English teachers and school staff to outline their next assignments.

Yet, despite their little free time, neither teacher resents their job. In fact, they love it.

“My oldest daughter once asked me, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of teaching To Kill A Mockingbird?’” Martha vonEsmarch, the English teacher, remembers. “And I said, no. I find something new every time, and students find something new every time. [They] ask a question, or they point something out, and that’s what makes it really interesting.”

“When I’m with the students, I sort of feed off their energy,” she concludes. “And it makes me feel better during the day…The energy in the room helps you gain energy yourself.”

Kate Weidkamp agrees. “I love what I do and I love who I get to be surrounded with,” she says. “The creativity that I get to see out of my students just lights my fire every day.”