What teachers do...

Do you know what a teacher does on a typical day? Do you know how much time and money they spend on their students?

Cathy Epps, a 3rd and 4th grade teacher at Mancos Elementary, offers a glimpse into what a typical Monday is like for her.

“Today I was asked to share about the day in the life of a teacher. I’m not sure that capturing one day would show a clear picture. A week — year — lifetime in the life of a teacher?


4:30 — Wake up to exercise so I am mentally and physically prepared for each day.

7:40-9:20 — Attend meetings collaborating with colleagues on how to best meet the various academic needs of our students. Share strategies and discuss data.

9:20-10:25 — Teaching

10:25-11:15 — Meetings with team members I didn’t meet with earlier today to talk about students’ strengths and needs.

11:15-noon — Teaching

12:00-12:25 — Recess Duty

12:25-12:45 — Heat and eat lunch, use the bathroom, prepare for teaching

12:45-3:40 — Teaching

3:40-5:30 or 6 — Grading papers, entering data, lesson planning, making phone calls to parents, checking e-mails.

“The rest of the week mirrors Monday except I am not in meetings until 9:20. I begin teaching students at 8:20. Some days I have duty before school, some days I have duty after school, and some days I have duty during lunch. I do have an hour of prep each day. However, that too is often consumed with meetings.

“Sunday — 3-4 hours each week working in my classroom preparing lessons, grading papers, entering data, etc.

“Yes, the schedule above is exhausting to read. However, this is the part of teaching that is not relevant to what a day, week, or year in the life of a teacher really is.

“For me, teaching each day is not about the countless hours, the paycheck, or the $100 a month I spend of my own money in my classroom. Teaching is about seeing a child finally understand a concept they have struggled with for days. The light in their eyes is the most beautiful thing you will ever see. It is watching friendships grow through the struggles of learning what that word means, and teaching students how to positively stand up for what they believe in. It is being there when a student loses a parent and the person they want to cry with is me. Teaching is when students tell you they learned to love to read because of what you taught them. It is being invited to graduations, weddings, and baby showers because I made a difference in their lives and they want me to continue to be there for important events in their life. It is feeding them if they are hungry, hugging them if they are sad, and dancing when they are proud. It is cheering for them at academic and sporting competitions-win or lose! It is going to bed each night and praying for each and every student that has been in my classroom, that currently walks through my doors each day, and the ones that I will be blessed to teach down the road. A day, week, month, or 18 years in my life as a teacher are a blessing.

So, I’m not sure I can put a price tag on what I do. All I can do is ask that I am given the support to continue to provide the best possible education I can to each and every child I am blessed to have walk through my doors each year.”


A 7th and 8th grade English teacher spends extra hours in her classroom every day. “I’m sometimes in my room working until 5:30 or 6. I’m grading papers or assignments, planning for the next day, making copies, aligning my units/lessons to the standards, organizing my classroom, catching up on emails, getting ready for a meeting, eating a snack because I barely had time to eat lunch, and oh so much more. My one hour of planning is often not enough time to accomplish all these tasks, since I have to do all of them every day.”

This same middle school teacher, spends roughly $200 per year out of her own pocket on classroom supplies.

Outside the classroom, she tries hard not to take anything home with her “so that I can keep my home a sanctuary for my family.” But, occasionally that’s not possible. “Sometimes I look up worksheets on the internet or fine tune a lesson or make a PowerPoint for a vocabulary assignment.” This probably totals up to about four hours a month.