How teachers spend professional days


Sean White, Staff Writer

At the end of each quarter, students get to stay home from school for a professional day. Aside from knowing it’s set aside for teachers, students may not know what professional days are for.

Professional days occur three times per year, yet students rarely pay attention to their purposes. Professional days are generally known for being the culprit of three-day-weekends, but that’s about it. Senior David Kolb said, “I guess they finish all of the insane amount of grading work due at the end of the semester.”

Since teachers generally have up to 160 students, professional days are used to grade assignments that the teacher didn’t have time to address. By the end of a marking period, there’s usually a collection of culminating projects and activities to grade.

English teacher Michael Dickel said, “There’s almost always some kind of summative or essay that we’re collecting near the end, so a good chunk of the day is usually grading.”

Teachers must also use this time to fully prepare for the next marking period. Since teachers constantly grade assignments, they don’t have any other time to draft a plan for the next quarter’s material. If a teacher manages to finish all of their grading during a professional day, they have a long list of other preparations to address before the new quarter starts.As photography teacher and head of the arts department Stephanie Labbe said, “Not only are we grading but included in planning for the next semester/marking period is cleaning classrooms, storing materials, and setting up materials for the next assignments and projects.”

reparations made on professional days can vary from department to department. Art teachers have to restock supplies and clean any art-related debris from their rooms, whereas PE teachers take inventory. Math teachers are often allowed more time for in-depth planning since they don’t have written projects to grade. A teacher’s department affects their professional day workload. Dickel said “English isn’t the only subject with a lot of grading, I’d say if we’re not at the top, we’re near it.”

Teachers have an intense amount of work to finish on professional days, so much so that one day may not be enough time. Being forced to mix grading time with planning time is stressful, and can cause teachers to make less detailed lesson plans. Teachers already take assignments home to grade after school and on weekends, and a singular day at the end of the quarter isn’t enough time to mitigate this. Ideally, teachers would have at least one day entirely devoted to grading, and another to planning for the next marking period, so that they can do their best at each task.

If professional days were expanded into two days, the majority of it would still likely be used for grading. But teachers would be given more flexibility in their workflow, bolstering their love of teaching rather than smothering it.