The amount of times I hear people moaning about teachers receiving too much holiday, only shows how little people know what is really required to educate a child.

Having grown up in a house with a parent who was a teacher and now as an adult I find myself living with another one, I can tell you nothing could be further from the truth.

The amount of time spent planning for the next lessons or marking books from the previous ones, seems like a never ending task. If the job is done right it should take a long time.

A teacher who actually cares about her pupils will take the extra time to ensure that they are able to engage and capture the attention of all of there students, no matter what their abilities may be.

My partner is a science teacher, a very good science teacher. She teaches at an all girls Catholic secondary school in London. Our evenings are not spent sitting in front of the TV watching mindless programmes. Instead she is busy designing interactive PowerPoint slides, planning experiments, marking books or answering an abundance of administrative emails.


A pupils school day may end at 15:30, but a teacher is lucky to get out of the building before 17:00. After returning home there is only time for a quick coffee break then it’s back to marking books and planning for the next day. This can take up to five hours every evening.

This is the same for the holidays. 75% of that time is taken up marking, planning and preparing to return to the classroom. I don’t think any teacher gets the opportunity to fully enjoy their breaks without stressing about the next term.

Imagine returning to work to face hundreds of new children waiting to be inspired and waiting for you to shape and mould their future. To many people that is a very daunting prospect.

Marking books correctly is more than just ticking the right answer and writing a score at the bottom of the page. You have to be able to give constructive criticism or deserved praise. That requires you to have a connection with your students and understand their unique abilities. Being able to identify when a child is underachieving or has made improvements.


The job is more than a job. It’s about nurturing and encouraging children to think and understand the concept of learning. Pushing them to the next level in a meaningful way so they themselves can look back and see their own progress. When the job is done right a child will know he or she has learnt something that day.

In this article I have focused on the imaginary ‘free time’ that people believe teachers have. I have not even begun to talk about the difficulties within the classroom dealing with difficult children, disruptive children and children with emotional instabilities coming from unstable households. All of this is just a fraction of what a teacher is expected to deal with on a daily basis.

So the next time you find yourself talking to a teacher, and you have the urge to say ‘I would love to be a teacher and get all that holiday’. Instead stop yourself, and ask yourself, do you actually have what it takes to be a teacher? Refrain from the usual condescending comment and tone and just say, Thank you.

I would like to thank all of the great teachers in the world. Keep on inspiring, keep on encouraging, keep on teaching. We all would be nowhere without you.

Sebastian Bowen.
The Fishtank Podcast.

  1. metalmantis says:

    Reblogged this on Bespoke Steps and commented:
    My teaching privately may not involve quite the hours necessary to amount to those undertaken by ‘on curriculum’ teachers, but I can FULLY empathise with the challenge involved. Respect is due!

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