Day in the life of
Fourth Grade Teacher – Paige Bryant
My name is Paige Bryant and I am a 4th-grade teacher. As a 4th grade teacher, I teach reading, writing, math, social studies, and science on a daily basis. But teaching elementary school goes way beyond academics. You are teaching social skills and coping strategies. Some days you act as a counselor, social worker, advocate, or chaperone.
You get to watch students grow in all sorts of ways throughout your year spent with them and it is unbelievably rewarding.
My typical day
Being a fourth-grade teacher your day usually starts 1-2 hours before students arrive. This time is spent in several different ways. Usually, once a week you will have a formal collaboration time with your team (other fourth grade teachers) where you will discuss upcoming units, field trips, grading, and other day-to-day items that come up. On other days you will be informally meeting with other fourth-grade teachers to plan lessons, plan the day, and discuss concerns. Team collaboration is so essential to make sure everyone is feeling comfortable and ready for the upcoming day. A few days a month you will have a school-wide staff meeting. These meetings could focus on professional development, safety reviews, fundraising, etc. Every morning when you are not in meetings you will be planning for your upcoming day and upcoming lessons. Planning for lessons could consist of making copies, making slideshows, cutting up activities, reading and writing lessons, or searching google for fun activities to do.
During the day you are constantly watching the clock to make sure you are on schedule. In fourth grade, your students will move to other locations (classrooms, lunchroom, etc.) during the day and you need to make sure you are on time. When students first arrive in the morning you will have a “morning activity” for them to do. This could look like an academic worksheet, playing board games, or working with hand on manipulatives. For your core lessons, math, and reading/writing you will plan lessons to teach your objectives, do practice as a group, and then allow students to do independent or small group activities.
You will get a prep time, which is usually 45-60 minutes during the day where your students are with a different teacher. This time is used as additional planning time or collaboration time with other teachers. Often times you are getting ready for the next time spent with students.
A huge component of teaching elementary school that often doesn’t get talked about outside of being a teacher is the need for strong classroom management. As a teacher, you need to have a plan to know how students will line up, where they will sit when they will sit where, how you want them to ask a question, what are your expectations during different times of the day, and much more. Classroom management is something that will adjust each year, semester, month, or maybe a week depending on your group of students. There will be trial and error and lots of trying new things.
Here is a list of “Other” activities you will do outside of academics and planning
- Planning and executing field trips! These days are fun but also extremely exhausting!
- You give extra recess time and plan fun classroom parties for the different holidays.
- Throughout the year you will get new students and lose some of your students. It’s amazing how this can completely shift classroom dynamics.
- You will prepare students for and monitor state testing.
- You will respond to endless emails from parents. Emails may have concerns, questions, or feedback.
- You will always need to know how students are getting home and oftentimes will spend time reaching out to parents to figure out any changes.
- You will deal with classroom disagreements and unwanted behavior. You will collaborate with the principals and parents of students who need help with behavior.
- You will coordinate with other teachers for reading intervention, math intervention, and special ed depending on student needs. You may also work with the school social worker for help with teaching social skills or to address social concerns.
- If you are a new teacher you will be on probation for your first three years where you will have several formal observations done with your principal(s).
- You will attend baby showers, retirement parties, and wedding showers for your coworkers.
- It is endlessly creative (which can also be a con, due to how much time this can take up). You get to create lessons that try to spark interest in your students and meet them where they are at.
- It’s fun! Your students will make each day unique and entertaining. At the end of each day, you will have stories to tell that make you laugh.
- Every day is different. You will never be doing the same thing, as such, you will never be bored.
- The relationships you build with your fellow teachers is a bong like no other
- The relationships you build with your students are life-changing and you will cry when you say goodbye at the end of the year.
- You feel like you are making a difference. You get to see students grow and change throughout the year and you know that you are making an impact on their life.
- It’s exhausting, especially in your first years. You are doing so much and your energy is going so many places. I am often at school 1-2 hours before students arrive and in the evenings I am doing school work for 1-3 more hours.
- Lots and lots of meetings, which are necessary but they often feel like they are taking away from getting tangible things done for your students
- You will encounter quite a few teachers who are burnt out of the profession and this takes away from your excitement about your job
- The constant emails and calls from parents. You are extremely accessible and some parents take full advantage of that.
Paige is a 4th-grade teacher. She also writes an adventure blog LoveMinnesotaAdventure.com.