Is the Job of a Teacher 24/7

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I haven’t blogged for a while and have been thinking about what to blog about. I am jealous of all of those in my PLN that blog daily and sometimes more than once a day. After thinking about this for a while I decided to put my thoughts down on “paper”.

Today we talk about child centered learning and the teacher as a facilitator to learning and allowing students to drive the learning with their questions. They are right and this is a major part of the role of the teacher in the 21st Century and it must change from the Sage on the Stage model.

However I believe that this is only part of the role of a teacher. A teacher needs to be a leader and a change agent. We may not be able to change the world or accomplish everything but as it says in “Ethics of our Fathers” that doesn’t mean that we could just absolve ourselves of our responsibility.

It doesn’t end there to me the most important thing teachers need to do or be is a role model. One who leads by examples in a moral and ethical way. Their motto should be “Do as I Do.”
They need to show their students that they care about them not only in the classroom but out of the classroom as well.

I posed the following question as one of the possible topics for #jedchat

Is the the role /job of a Rebbe( Judaic male teacher)/Teacher 24/7 (ie are they expected to attend a school basketball game on Sunday)?

I think you could tell what I would say!

What do you think?


  1. The answer for me is no. If I’m truly a role model for my students, then I need to show them more than how to work all the time. We have a world that is over-worked, over-spent & over-consumed. Our students need to know there are alternatives.

    While I love my job, my family is more important — everytime. I’m not content to help raise other people’s children and not be a significant part of my own daughter’s day to day routine.

    Does that means I can’t help out sometimes? Yes. Does that mean there are things I can’t supervise, projects I can’t take on, or games I can’t attend. Absolutely. And I don’t apologize for it. I don’t think I’ll look back at my time as a teacher and think, “wow, I wish I would have attended more of my student’s basketball games.” Because while I’m at school, my students have 100% of my attention. I’m part of their lives and know what’s going on.

    Our students need to see modelled what a balanced life looks like. Part of this, I think, is people who don’t take their jobs too seriously, who know how to play & laugh, and what it means to disconnect.

    November 27, 2011
    • Shelley,
      Thank you for your comment. I do agree that everything we do needs to be done in moderation and Yes family time and down time are all important and necessary.

      I guess my point was that teachers need t oat least feel that they should care and be concerned about the students even outside the classroom. I know my students appreciate when I come to their games. I should probably also clarify that they are playing for the school team.

      Perhaps for me being in a small Jewish Day School in a small Jewish community I am constantly having my students over for a Chanukah party of some type of Sabbath program outside of school.

      So Yes moderation and family are a must and and I am not saying that ones own children need to suffer but at the same time teaching is as you said giving 100% and that 100% doesn’t always end when the bell rings.

      Thank you for your comments.

      November 27, 2011
      • This is an important discussion. Balance will look and feel different for every teacher. In fact, it will look and feel different for the same teacher at different points in his/her life and career. It’s an important topic to keep on the discussion table as striking a positive balance serves both teachers and students well.

        November 27, 2011
  2. Keith Rispin said:

    I have to agree with Shelley on this one.

    I was actually raked over the coals way back when, by a School Board Trustee for saying that my own kids come before my students. I was really quite shocked that this sort of sentiment still existed but it is a carry over from the bad old days when teachers were expected to devote their lives to their students.

    My family will always come first, as it should be but the job of “teacher” is better when you do commit some of your time beyond the classroom to your school. In a profession like teaching, you are not working for the money so you have to work for those etherial things such as the undying appreciation of the kids and the parents. It is those things that you do outside of the classroom that can make all the difference. If you are getting neither money nor appreciation, teaching is a pretty tuff go.

    I remember clearly to this very day, a Vice Principal who taught one of our seminars in my last year of my B.Ed. He said “There is a reason why teachers have one of the highest divorce rates of any profession and it is because they sacrifice their own family for their students. DO NOT make this mistake. You will regret it for your entire career. Family comes first!”

    I have lived by these words for my entire 18 years of teaching.

    November 28, 2011
  3. […]  This blog houses many posts regarding the deeper meaning of teaching.  For example I looked at Is the Job of a Teacher 24/7?  After reading through the post I decided for me the answer is yes and no.  Yes, in that I […]

    November 28, 2011
  4. Akevy, while I would respond with a emphatic yes that we are all teachers 24/7 whether we like it or not, I worry about using a school rebbe as an example.

    First, by setting up the rebbe as an example, it to imply that any other teacher who is not a rebbe or serving in the capacity of a spiritual leader would be exempt from being a leader and example (dugmah) during non-school hours. You include teacher in general on your list, but yet by highlighting the rebbe it draws attention to the separateness of that role. I imagine you’d agree that all teachers should be encouraged to be dugmaot (leaders and examples) all the time. This is not a role reserved for one person in particular.

    Second, I question highlighting the role of the rebbe because it seems that it places an unrealistic, unfair and gender stereotypical emphasis on any person serving in the capacity of spiritual leader. Many, many Jewish day schools, other religious day schools and parochial schools, and even secular independent schools have spiritual leaders who are women, and to continue the sole primacy of the rebbe reduces the ways in which women can embrace leadership as spiritual leaders and guides, serving as examples for a younger generation. I believe this is just as true in yeshivot as in other settings, although they may not be willing to use the title rabbah (fraught with challenge in some communities) or yoetzet.

    As others have said above, a teacher’s obligation to his or her students doesn’t end when the bell rings. We carry our work out of our classrooms and into our lives. The most important element of this for me is to maintain a life of integrity, one in which both sides of the equation are in balance. Sometimes I spend more time working with/supporting/caring for my students and school community, and sometimes my family requires more of my time. So long as those remain over time in a balance that feels honest and appropriately integrated *for you,* then you fulfill your obligations on either side of that equation.

    By the way, I often entertain students and colleagues in my home. It helps me to maintain that balance; my personal life becomes visible to them, so they appreciate it. I have never, in 18 years of Jewish professional life, welcomed someone into my home who didn’t then become more respectful of that life-work balance. Sharing my striving for that balance makes me more human in their eyes, and then I am treated accordingly. I hope the same will be for you too!

    November 29, 2011
    • Sara

      Thank you for your reply.
      I agree and the question I posed was Rebbe/ Teacher, not just limited to a Rebbe but to all teachers.

      As many have mentioned it becomes a question of balance and that is a worthy conversation to have. I think many teachers be it Judaic teachers or General Ed teachers regardless of their gender are making those personal connection.

      As I have stated the focus for me is, is it in your mindset that you feel the need to be there “24/7” ( not literally) but beyond the classroom and beyond your teaching time.

      Thanks again for your comment


      November 29, 2011
  5. Tammy Miller said:

    I have been in the teaching profession since 1983. As a person who has an interest in making our world better via leading by example, I live this daily. As a T1 diabetic, I have found that teaching may be more than I can handle with the increased stress of the job. It is a shame that the job has become so intense that many are lying to make their school look good. This is NOT why I went into teaching. The pressure to lie or make look things better than they are, is beyond my morals and values. I support my students in every way that I can. It seems the students I teach want me to do everything for them including taking their tests. Copying without processing seems to be the norm as well. The stress and anxiety from the job in conjunction with the daily requirements of my disease has taken its toll and I am on FMLA until the end of the semester. At that time, I may resign. My health is far more important.

    November 29, 2011
  6. PrincipalJ said:

    When I read this post I didn’t interpret this as literally working 24/7, because that wouldn’t be healthy for anyone. When I read this I think about the great educators that model for students by sharing stories with them about how they continue to read/learn outside of school–that they are lifelong learners. Or teachers that attend after school extracurricular functions like music concerts or sporting events…or ask the students how it went if they weren’t there. Just showing that you have a true interest in the students’ lives to build a relationship with them is 24/7 modeling.

    December 1, 2011
  7. I interpreted this blog post exactly the way Jessica did. Personally, I am at every school function or event you can think of and I work long, long hours. I delegate nothing and I believe this to be my biggest weakness. I want to have Shelley’s philosophy and every leadership book I have read discusses the importance of family, health, etc. As Maureen states, balance looks different throughout an educators career. Now that I have two small children, things must change. I really like how George Couros defined Happiness and Balance in his post here It all comes down to, “Are you happy?”

    Great discussion Akevy, I just hope my wife doesn’t read Shelley’s or Keith’s comments because she echos their beliefs daily! I agree more with you, but deep down I know I’m somewhat wrong. I have never heard a man on his death bed say, “I wish I had spent more time at work.” However, I have heard the alternative. Shawn

    December 4, 2011
    • Thank you Jessica and Shawn for clarifying and expressing my thoughts perhaps better than I did in my original post.

      I do agree that this is a bigger discussion and a more important topic than one blog post.

      Yes I would agree with Shawn that my wife probably would side with some of the other comments but we have been married for 20 years and I could only do what I do because I know deep down I have her support.

      Yes Shawn no one we will say on their death bed or on their tombstone that they wish they could spend more time at work. However what we hope that people would say the following; “do you know how many lives were impacted by Teacher X” or Teacher X cared about me as a person and therefore I am the person I am today”

      I am not sure those lines could be said if we view teaching as a “9-5” job or one that ends when the bell rings.

      Thank you Shawn and Jessica for your comments and insights.

      And Yes lets keep the discussion going


      December 4, 2011
      • I can’t agree more. When you ask a student to describe the teacher who impacted them the most, many times it’s the teacher who went beyond school hours and expressed a true interest in their life. The best educators have the total life of the child in mind.

        My mentor, Dr. Toni Jones, now the superintendent of Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia, has taught me from the day she hired me, “There is no nine to five jobs in education, only opportunities to do something great!” “Excellence doesn’t happen by accident.” If we truly have what’s best for kids in mind, then we must put in some quality hours.

        If we are creative, we can truly balance family and our job in a way that we feel accomplished and happy in all areas of our life. It just takes much discipline, determination, commitment, passion….

        December 4, 2011

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