Most people have the idea that a teacher has 12 weeks of paid holidays, knocks off at 2 pm and only has to deal with pesky students in class.
But how true are they? Here are 6 facts about school teachers in Singapore you never knew, written by an ex-teacher.
Teachers have no annual leave.
Other than childcare leave enjoyed by teachers with children, teachers have no leave at all outside of 10 days of urgent paid leave that can only be granted for valid, specific reasons such as the death of a family member (extended family not included) or marriage.
That said, no teacher in the right mind would take urgent leave to get married, because nobody wants to face their cheeky students so soon after having an intimate time with their partner.
Teachers are only free for half their school holidays.
The one week breaks in March and September are non-existent because of meetings and preparations, while the first and last weeks of the June and December holidays are taken up by the same meetings and preparations as well.
This means that teachers have no choice of when to go for a holiday, except during the school holidays where almost the whole of Singapore goes for holidays as well – enjoy the peak period prices and crowds guys!
Teachers spend more than twice the amount of time preparing for class than teaching.
Teachers today no longer simply give students worksheets or read from the textbook. More often than not, they have to prepare videos, powerpoint slideshows and interactive online materials that will be able to catch the attention of the new generation of students, whose attention span is getting shorter and shorter.
This requires a lot of time and effort trying to get everything running and prepared for the lesson, usually after lessons and remedial classes are all over. Oh look! It’s 7 pm already!
Teachers are masters of ingesting food anywhere, anytime.
The keyword here is ingesting; teachers usually don’t have much time to eat. While some teachers will have the luck and luxury of a nice timetable, most teachers are caught up with work sprouting out from all over the place in between lessons.
Thus, many teachers have learnt the art of swallowing food in record times and in the most awkward of places, usually in the school pantry where every teacher in school is trying to find a seat at, or at their desks which is usually piled with worksheets, homework, exam papers and documents.
No teacher of sound mind will eat in the canteen immediately after school, because it feels more like a zoo than anything else.
Teachers are part-time publishers, security guards and butlers.
Teachers are also part of committees that keep the school running like any other organisation would. Teachers in the publications committee have to produce newsletters, yearbooks and school magazines, while the discipline committee has to patrol the neighbourhood from time to time to make sure students don’t play a fool.
The school welfare committee probably has the most interesting job of all; they have to plan, prepare, book and execute events, prepare birthday cards and presents for staff, and make sure that the pantry is always full of food and drink or face the wrath of an angry teacher mob.
Oh look! It’s 8 pm already and I’m here at the supermarket buying 5 bags of coffee for the school pantry!
Teachers must complete 100 hours of courses every year.
To add to all those things they do beyond the classroom, teachers in Singapore have to select a total of 100 hours of courses and workshops from a buffet of programmes made available by MOE.
If you think going for a course or a workshop is a great chance to take a break, think again; this means another teacher has to relieve your class, and that you probably have to teach that lesson again within a shorter period of time.
It is even worse if the course takes place after lesson hours because you have just lost the time you could have used to plan the lessons for the next day, mark your scripts or simply have a chance to breathe.
Say goodbye to your weekend.