You’re not alone. At least 50% (if not more) of teaching requires ugly, nasty, boring, time-consuming paperwork. Where does all this paperwork come from? From my experience, it comes from the following:
- lesson planning and grading
- communicating with parents via email/notes
- writing and modifying assessments
- documenting missing work from students
- working with the resource department (and by this, I mean REALLY working with them, not just checking the boxes.)
- printing and copying
- professional development work
- writing out detentions/disciplinary forms or reports
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.
So many college students decide upon a teaching profession because it seems like simple solution to getting a job once they graduate. Some are also under the mistaken notion that teaching is easy. It usually takes about a few months in the profession to quash that concept.
But before we get frustrated and negative about paperwork, let’s think about all the wonderful things that the paperwork actually does, assuming that we are filling it out in a disciplined, thoughtful way.
- It allows us to grow as teachers and create more exciting activities for our students.
- It allows us to help parents become better at their jobs and us to become better at reaching the student before they get to the point of giving up.
- It allows us to treat all students fairly and meet their different needs in a more effective way.
- It allows us to keep track of student work before they get so far behind that they can’t catch up.
- It allows us to work more effectively with LD and ED students and reflect caring by making stronger connections with the Resource professionals.
- Printing and copying are two functions that we can sometimes take for granted. I know of many school districts who impose very strict printing and copying restrictions on their teachers or even block off the copier with impossible codes! This function allows us to take advantage of so much from giving students typewritten tests and quizzes to including visuals and manipulatives in our classroom activities.
- It allows us to achieve our credits and maintain active and up-to-date in our profession.
- It helps us train students how to be self-disciplined and choose appropriate social behavior, taking learning beyond the academic aspect of the classroom to a level of life enrichment.
Thus, paperwork, unfortunately, is a necessary evil. (I know, it was hard to reconcile myself to it also.) Try to remember that next time you’re sitting next to a stack of essays, or trying to grade a constructed project sitting on your classroom floor. Try to remember that next time you get annoyed at having to keep paper records of your grades. Try to remember that when you get to the point of wondering why on earth you became a teacher in the first place. And also remember: We’re all in the same boat.