Working Overtime to Impact Students

Ann Lambert - Second Year Teaching Fellow - Irving Middle School Roslindale, MA

At Citizen Schools we like to think of ourselves as “second shift” educators.  Teachers have the first shift in the morning and early afternoon.  We take the second shift in the late afternoon and evening.  And parent’s take the third—the night shift.  Collectively, we’re the triple crown of influencers, if you will (If you won’t… oh well).

I see it a little differently.  In my eyes, I work a little during all three shifts—and then some.  The deal is this:  when I’m not teaching, I’m prepping.  When I’m not prepping, I’m grading.  When I’m not grading, I’m making family phone calls.  When I’m not making family phone calls I’m thinking… “I should probably be making family phone calls…”  And when I’m not doing that… I’M DREAMING ABOUT WORK.  You can’t escape your students.

The other day I was riding the bus home from work with my headphones in, taking Eminem’s advice to “lose myself in the music”, unwinding, and thinking about what I was going to cook for dinner.  My phone rings: unknown number.  “Hello?”.... "Hi, Ms. Lambert!  It’s Sabrina!”  Sabrina, if you can picture it, is one of the tiniest, cutest little sixth graders in my class.  She usually wears pig tails or a high pony, has a stutter but still wants to talk a mile a minute, and does everything with the utmost spunk that a teacher could ask for.

…. "Ummm, I’m at my grandma’s and my mom’s taking my sister to some high school night and nobody knows how to help me with my math homework.  I was going to call my math teacher but then I remembered I wrote your number in my notebook.  Can you help?”  Of course I could.  As I got off my bus at the usual stop and walked the ten minutes to my apartment, I coached Sabrina through problems one and two: mean and median.  As I walked through the door and dropped my stuff, I put the phone on speaker and began to cook dinner while we worked through problems three and four to find the mode and range of the same data set.  She thanked me when we were done and said she’d see me tomorrow; I ate dinner, answered emails, called a few parents, and went to bed only to follow a similar routine the next day.

I’m definitely not complaining.  I hung up that phone feeling elated that a.) a student felt comfortable enough to call me for help, b.) I was able to assist her in correctly completing her homework and c.) my attempts to connect with my students on a more personal level were not in vain.  However, I do stand by my conviction that the term “second shift” educator is an understatement.  When you are working with children in any capacity, if you have a pulse, it is going to consume you and infiltrate most other aspects of your life.  Whether you’re doing actual work, or simply thinking about a student, worrying about a student, or blogging about a student on a Sunday afternoon—I hate to break it to you: you’re working overtime.

I am a multiple shift educator.  Clocking out?  What’s that?

Share stories, in the comments section, of when working overtime turned into a rewarding experience for you!