Tag Archives: Grading

Winter Break as an English Teacher

I hear it often, and you do too. Winter Break (Christmas Break) approaches, and community members begin to envy the two weeks away from school that teachers have and the comments begin.

“It must be nice to have two weeks off.”

“What will you do with all of your free time?”

“Must be nice to get paid and not have to work.”

These comments frustrate me, but I do try and correct the misconception with my responses, which don’t need to explain in detail here; however, I did think a good idea would be to post what my “break” is like as an English teacher.

I time one set of the students’ papers to be due around this time because I have 150 students. Each paper averages about 15 minutes to read, mark, and evaluate, which means I have about 37.5 hours of grading time during the break. This is essentially an unpaid week of work (but, as most of you know, teachers are only paid for contracted days). This is the only time of year when I bring papers home to grade because I like to work the extra hours at the school before coming home in order to keep my work life and home life separate. 

I do take 2-4 days off for family time and decorating the house and such, and then it’s back to work. Some years my wife and I take a short trip outside of family time–we’re partial to Vegas–but this year we couldn’t swing it.

Then, it’s time to prepare for the return on January 2. Usually, I re-read one of the novels I’m teaching and prepare “Big Idea” questions (ideas that allow for full discussions and essays) for each section of the novel.

I typically start going to the school each day beginning on the 27th of December to make copies, clean and re-supply my classroom, update and change the bulletin boards, and post grades. I probably average 2-4 hours per day. 

Also, I like to take January 1 off, and I schedule time to watch my favorite college and pro football games. All in all, of the 17 days of the Winter Break, I usually work 12 of them. 

What type of hours do you keep over the holidays?