Battling deadline after deadline: The nature of teachers’ work

At this moment I’m up to my eyes in grading term papers. (That’s why I have
to keep this post short.) The grade submission deadlines are coming up soon,
and these are deadlines I must meet. Then, there is a teachers’ workshop I will
run at a school tomorrow afternoon. And I must also prepare for the workshop.

Suddenly I think of the plight of teachers. I often encourage teachers
to spend more time on lesson planning. I’d say things like ‘better lesson
planning will ensure better quality of teaching; lesson planning enables
teachers to apply their professional knowledge, so that it is an intellectually
satisfying activity…blah, blah, blah.’

Now, I have a workshop to prepare for. And in a way, it is like lesson
planning. But compared with grading papers, which is more urgent?

The nature of teachers’ work is such that there are plenty of deadlines
to meet: deadlines for marking students’ compositions and returning the marked
compositions to them; deadlines for setting test and exam papers and submitting
them to the panel chair; deadlines for filling out students’ report cards and
submitting them to the principal for his/her signature … Deadlines for this,
and deadlines for that. And deadline after deadline.

That is why lesson planning is often relegated to a low-priority task,
if it ever gets done at all.

Haha, I can go on for another hour expounding on the importance of
lesson planning, how it is instrumental to the quality of teaching, how it
prevents teachers from feeling deskilled, how we shouldn’t replace good
teaching with massive doses of repetitive homework and then torturing ourselves
with even more meaningless marking of massive amounts of absent-mindedly done
homework, blah blah blah …

But now I must get back to my own marking, with the guilty feeling that
I’m not spending enough time on preparing for the teachers’ workshop tomorrow.


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